Glow-den dragon to the fore

JOHOR BARU: As the Year of the Dragon approaches, the demand for unique dragon dance performances featuring glow-in-the-dark and LED dragons has surged.

Johor Baru Na Tok Kong Dragon Dance Association deputy chairman Lim Chong Meng said there has been a 30% increase in bookings for these special performances.

“Our glow-in-the-dark and LED dragons are highly requested for corporate banquet dinners and on the eighth day of the lunar new year when the Chinese – especially Hokkiens – pray through midnight for the Bai Tian Gong ceremony to give offerings to the Jade Emperor.

“Our customers are willing to pay extra for the special dragon dance performances as they hope that it will bring them a year of good luck and fortune,” he said.

Apart from the two types of dragons, Lim said the association also has a conventional dragon for those who are looking for a more economical option.

He added that the association, which won numerous awards including the dragon dance world championship in 2000 and 2002, is already booked up for the first, eighth, ninth and 15th day of the lunar new year.

The seventh day of Chinese New Year is also a popular date for dragon dance performances as many companies choose to resume their operations after the festive break, he said, adding that their customers are mostly regulars.

Another award-winning group, the Hua Tiong Wushu Club also saw an increase in bookings for night performances this year.

Its dragon dance team head Wong Yeet Khan many customers have requested for glow-in-the-dark dragons because the dragon really comes “alive” in the dark.

“Our dance troupe, made up of teenagers as young as 14 years old, have started performing at shopping malls, corporate events and dinners last week. We will be performing throughout the festive period.

“The busiest day is the first day of Chinese New Year on Feb 10, where we have scheduled performances at 18 locations in Johor Baru so far,” he said, adding that the dance troupe trains twice a week from 8.30pm to 10pm.

Although the club’s members won six gold, six silver and one bronze medals in the wushu category at the Sukma Games 2022, Wong said performing the dragon dance is their core and tradition.

Wong further explained, unlike the lion dance “cai qing” performance, where the performers reach for vegetable leaves tied on a pole, dragon dances do not have such routines.

“Instead, the troupe will go around letting the audience touch the dragon head, which weighs 2.5kg, or its beard as it symbolises longevity,” he added.