At conventional dragon dance club, mobile telephone ban facilitates ‘keep matters actual’

One of Vancouver’s oldest martial arts members says it grapples with declining membership as younger humans flip to different pastimes.

At its top, Hon Hsing Athletic Club had around two hundred individuals in the Sixties and 70s. That wide variety dropped to 35 in 2019.

“It’s undoubtedly tough in recent times, you recognize,” says kung fu master Peter Wong. “Because computers, cellular phones — and youngsters aren’t as [focused] as they used to be.”

Since it was founded in 1939, the membership has been chargeable for dragon and lion dances at several of Metro Vancouver’s key Chinese New Year celebrations.

In Chinese culture, colorful dances help ward off negativity while ushering in the right luck and auspiciousness.

Members of the Hon Hsing Athletic Club mid-soar throughout a lion dance exercise. (Lien Yeung/CBC)
This year, the troupe of younger guys in their teenagers and twenties rehearsed for performances in Chinatown’s Spring Festival Parade and festivities at Aberdeen Centre.

“It’s a massive duty and a massive pride for us to maintain that culture for us until these days,” says the organization’s dance director Danny Quon.

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Keepin’ it actual

In combatting college ‘students’ interests, the membership has kept training loose and invites others outside the Chinese Canadian community to enroll.

While elegance is in session, Quon, 37, has also added measures to keep the students’ attention, like requiring them to deposit their mobile phones in a garbage container.

Students are asked to land mobile telephones in this container before Hong Hsing kung fu and dance practices. (Lien Yeung/CBC)
“This is the box. It’s supporting us to preserve matters here at Hon Hsing,” said Quon with fun.

Rehearsals don’t get underway till college students drop their mobile telephones into the covered container.

The brief suspension of modern-day technology appears natural at Hon Hsing.

Not best is ancient art bureaucracy being taught, but its clubhouse hearkens to a distinct time.

Members of the Hon Hsing Athletic Club stand at the back of participants of the Wong’s Benevolent Association, club shoppers. Danny Quon is in the 2nd row, fourth from the left (Lien Yeung/CBC)
Housed in a 110-year-old construction on East Pender Street, its walls are covered with a rainbow of old lion dance heads, archival photographs, and newspaper clippings from the group’s heyday.

A nearly existence-sized shrine to the club’s ancestor overlooks the space.

More than martial arts

Quon says his father introduced him to Hon Hsing when he was eight.

Over the years, he understands the institution’s cultural importance to the community. That is why he’s concerned approximately the club’s decline.

He tries to pass on an important lesson for individuals who make it to elegance.

“It’s more than just lifting a lion’s head or a dragon or doing martial arts,” said Quon. “You’re truly helping the network by retaining these locations alive.”


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