Jon and I went to campus A yesterday to see a dragon dance for the new year. There were only a few people watching, but they performed for us. When they started dancing, Jon told me that it was to scare away evil spirits. The drumming was starting and they began dancing. At first there were four dragons, each with two people under them and controlling them. They had bright colors and had big eyes and moustaches. While they were dancing, a guy dressed up in a mask and large fake belly came over to the few of us that were watching and shook our hands and fanned us; Jon told me he was fanning to evil spirits away. All this time the drumming happening with a very fast rhythm along with small crashes of cymbals. Jon was holding a long pole out above the dancers with an envelope attached to the end containing tip money. Eventually the drumming became dramatic as one of the dancers hopped on another’s shoulders, still holding the dragon head on his own head, and reached through the mouth of the dragon to grab the tip.

But it wasn’t over yet. Then they had about ten guys carrying a very long, snakelike dragon. They all held onto a pole about three feet long and basically did what the guy in front of them did. They had them doing really intricate patterns, swirling everywhere and making cool shapes. But that wasn’t all. Then they brought out another so they had two of the long dragons dancing at the same time. It was incredible. All the while the drumming maintained its intensity. Several little kids who sell lottery tickets on Vo Thi Sau street had followed the dancers into campus and stood there watching everything with us.

They had the two long dragons going, but then they got the four smaller dragons up and going with the two people controlling them. The drumming kept increasing its tempo and they were building a crescendo… And then it was over. Really amazing. If I was an evil spirit lurking around the university, I would have been scared off by the bright colors and complex movements of the dragon dance, and really scared by the drumming.

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