The queue for the 2012 Lunar New-Year Gala snaked through the corridors of the SAC like the tail of a Chinese dragon last Tuesday evening.
Students were waiting to attend the free event in celebration of the lunar year change, which occurred on January 23, hosted by the Asian Students Alliance, an undergraduate club at Stony Brook.
2012’s lunar new year is the year of the dragon – the only mythical creature represented in the Chinese calendar.
According to the gala’s organizer, Anne Chau, 21, a junior Biology and Philosophy major, the year of the dragon is a particularly special year due to its mystical origins.
“If you are born in the year of the dragon you’re considered very lucky,” said Chau, referring to the fact that the dragon is the symbol of good fortune and protection in Chinese culture.
The gala included raffles, a pin-the-tail-on-the-dragon competition, origami lessons and a peculiar game that involved marbles being picked out of a bowl with chopsticks – not easy. And then there was the food; perhaps one of the biggest draw cards of the evening.
Traditional Chinese cuisine was on hand – General Tso’s chicken, rice, dumplings, and egg rolls – all free and ready to be consumed by the roughly 400 students who stopped by.
Many of the students agreed the dinner was good, and it showed an hour after the doors opened when the food was all gone.
The hosts, Chau and two other members of ASA, kept the audience occupied during dinner with the thrill of winning a prize in one of the raffles offered throughout the evening.
There was even a brief flashback to childhood in the form of an impromptu game of “Simon Says” while the hosts waited for the real entertainment to arrive. The audience could laugh or grimace as the participants failed to do exactly as Simon, or in this case Ryan, said.
After a one-hour traffic delay, the highlight of the evening, the Dragon Dance team, arrived. The dance is traditionally performed over the 15-day New Year celebration and is no mere feat to perform, involving two or more people holding poles that move the body and head of a jumping and dancing dragon.
Some of the audience did not have the patience or desire to wait the extra hour for the dance team to arrive and left shortly after eating their fill.
While junior Yiufat Lam, who goes by the name Benny, 20, an Engineering and Studio Art double-major from Chinatown, Manhattan, said that this year’s gala was a little less organized than last year’s celebration, but he still felt it was a good way for students to honor the new year away from home.
According to Lam, the Chinatown New Year celebrations in the city are particularly fun.
“The whole of Canal Street shuts down and at midnight there are firecrackers in the street,” he said. “You wear new clothing on new year’s day, usually red.”
Lam also described the traditional act of handing out red envelopes with money in them to relatives or friends during the celebrations.
Unfortunately no red envelopes stuffed with cash were distributed at this particular gala.