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Fire dragon dance lights up Tai Hang providing ‘real night vibes Hong Kong has long missed’

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Residents and visitors packed Tai Hang in Hong Kong on Thursday night for the return of the fire dragon dance in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, as the government is trying to encourage people to stay out later and boost the after-dark economy.

The centuries-old tradition, part of the national intangible cultural heritage, is back after a four-year, pandemic-induced hiatus.

More than 300 performers carried a dragon made of lit incense sticks, rope, rattan and straw through the streets and alleyways of the neighbourhood against the backdrop of ringing gongs and thumping drums.

For three nights in all, the dragon weaves its way through the narrow streets. Photo: Sam Tsang

Urvik Patel and his wife, in their 50s, came to watch the procession even though they knew nothing about the tradition.

“We didn’t do the homework, we just came to see what it is,” Patel said. “The smell of the incense sticks … it reminds us of home.”

Tai Hang’s fire dragon dance, a Hong Kong Mid-Autumn Festival tradition

A woman in her 40s, who only gave her surname as Hui, brought her two sons, five and seven, to the event for the first time.

“It’s tradition we want to show the children,” she said.

It is believed the dance originated in the 19th century, when Hakka residents felt they had beaten a plague by parading the fiery beast through the neighbourhood. Photo: Sam Tsang

Ben Ng, 43, a salesman who moved to Tai Hang two years ago, had long been waiting to take his six-year old son to witness the dance.

“He is excited to see what he learned at school,” he said.

Ng himself had never seen the show and said he was glad he and his son would experience it together.

Residents of all ages take part in the Tai Hang celebration. Photo: Sam Tsang

The dance started at 8.15pm and lasted about two hours. The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on Friday, and the final performance will be on Saturday.

It is believed the dance originated in the 19th century, when Hakka residents felt they had beaten a plague by parading the fiery beast through the neighbourhood.

One restaurant in an alleyway was fully booked, and manager Felix Char, 30, said he was not prepared for so many customers, but appreciated the traffic.

What is Mid-Autumn Festival all about? A complete visual explainer

“It is definitely a good start to the holiday. We did not see it coming as we were busy serving all night,” he said. “This is the real night vibes Hong Kong has long missed.”

Residents say they are happy the event is back to its regular format. Photo: Sam Tsang

The restaurant was offering a set meal at HK$200 (US$26), and while Char had not yet tallied up the receipts, he said it was the first time in months he felt confident about the night’s takings.

The government has included the dance in its “Night Vibes Hong Kong” campaign designed to energise the night economy as the city’s post-pandemic recovery has been slower than expected.

Article was originally published from here

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