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Lion Dance Chinese New Year London 2004


Dan Amphlett, Sifu Ian Armstrong, Sifu Paul Burkinshaw and David Richardson

Chinese New Year 2004 we were invited to perform with Iain Armstrong’s Nam Yang Pugilistic Association at the London Chinese Community’s festival in Trafalgar Square. Not only was it a great honour to be invited to take part in this event, it was also great fun. Our troupe with two lions arrived at Sifu Iain Armstrong’s Association at around 12 noon on the Saturday to take part in the preparations. Following an afternoon of hard work, Sil Lum Kune and members of Nam Yang relaxed at an excellent local Chinese restaurant before bedding down in the Training Hall.

At 6.00 am the following morning a bunch of bleary-eyed performers crawled out of their Sleeping Bags and tottered round to the rather basic toilet facilities. They had one nasty moment during the night when they had tried to get out of the Training Hut and found that the door wouldn’t unlock. It eventually took 3 of them 20 minutes and a pair of pliers before they managed to open the door, however not without waking the entire hall up in the process at 2.00 am!The coaches were loaded and 60 or so martial artists headed into London City Centre. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was just coming up amidst crystal clear blue skies and at that time in the morning, London was like a picture postcard. We drove past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (to the comment, ‘It’s smaller than I thought’ (thank you Kevin!)) before parking at the back of China Town.


After a hot drink in a friendly China Town Café, the troupe went back to where the equipment was stored, donned their gear ready for the parade through China Town. The music started, with drums banging, cymbals and gongs crashing, the musician’s lead followed by the Lions, the dragons and at the rear the ‘Big heads’ the parade had finally begun. For nearly two hours we danced and pranced around the streets of China Town, with two circuits of Leicester Square we finally arrived, hot and sweaty and full of elation at Trafalgar Square.



Working a Lion is hard and hot work, it is also back breaking, not just for the person at the back, but also the person at the front who has to hold the head. The back end is bent double for the duration, there is no let up, fortunately the adrenalin kicks in and keep’s you going. For those not experienced it was fortunate that some of the Lion Dancers are also practicing therapists, they were able to put backs in order with massage and KaiAmea techniques.


The ceremony in Trafalgar Square commenced at 12 noon, with the Right Honourable Ken Clarke, Lord Mayor of London together with the Chinese Ambassador dotting the Lions eyes, which is part of the awakening ceremony. The lions then danced in Trafalgar Square prior to the performance by the Dragons. The celebrations lasted until early evening with thousands of visitors from all of the world enjoying the spectacle.


At 6.00pm there was a martial arts demonstration by Nam Yang Pugilistic after which we loaded up the coaches and headed back to the Training Hall. In all a very long, thoroughly enjoyable experience was had by all and we look forward for the opportunity to take part again.