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Food, Fun Fill Plates at Chinese New Year Banquet

By William K. Lee, Crimson Staff Writer

The Chinese New Year Banquet in Leverett Dining Hall on Friday night was not a place for the fainthearted. Chioma Duru '04 was one of many attendees who was hit by flying lettuce.

A capacity crowd of about 350 students came for an eleven-course meal, but the after-dinner entertainment put the slither in the Year of the Snake celebration.

This Chinese New Year celebration began with a traditional lion dance. A pair of lion dance teams slid dramatically through the crowd on their way to the stage. The lion dance troupe from MIT then performed the customary dance, and then added a unique signature to their performance.

As a sign of good fortune, the lions swallowed a head of lettuce and then regurgitated the chewed remnants. These lion dancers, however, flung the shredded lettuce far into the dining hall, much to the surprise of the crowd. "I've seen a lot of Chinese New Year parades and a lot of lion dances," said Mark Chen '04, who is from the San Francisco Bay area, "and this was about as entertaining as any of those."

The lion dance was followed by a showcase of Chinese arts. There were performances by the Asian American Dance Troupe, who performed a pair of traditional Chinese dances; the Taiwanese Cultural Society Chinese Yo-Yo Club, who demonstrated the Chinese yo-yo, a spinning wooden object that runs along a string held by both ends; and a zither player, Elaine Kwok '02.

The showstopper was a comedy act known as "Super Sunday." Based upon a popular television show in Taiwan, Super Sunday is a Telephone-like game that features a series of participants drawn from the crowd who try to mime a concept to one another.

As volunteers tried to enact "Primal Scream" and "Britney Spears", the act often brought loud laughter, and sometimes shock, from the audience.

Inevitably, the person at the far end of the line incorrectly guessed the concept being mimed.

The provocative nature of the act was taken in good spirit by the participants. "I hope Super Sunday is an accurate representation of Chinese culture," joked Grace Bloodwell '03.

The banquet drew a diverse array of students, many of whom were not Asian. Duru, who is African-American, had never been to a Chinese New Year celebration before. "It was definitely interesting," she said. "I really liked the lions." Jessica Son '04, who is of Korean descent, did not know much about Chinese culture before attending the banquet. "It was very enlightening and fun," she remarked.

The organizers of the event, the Chinese Students Association (CSA), were pleased by the diverse makeup of the crowd. "I don't think CSA is just for Chinese people," said Leslie Tam '03, the association's co-president. "It's an association where people do Chinese things."

Chen liked the lion dance, but the food was the highlight of the evening. "The food was great," he said. "I haven't had real Chinese food in a while."

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