Chinese New Year’s Dragon Dance

The smell of sulfur smoke from fireworks fills my nostrils and my ears are dulled by the bang of fireworks as I crouch lower to get a better angle. The eye hole for my Canon camera is keeping the smoke out of my left eye and my right one is closed tight. I can feel flakes of paper hit my face from the long snaking string of firecrackers. My only line of sight is out of my camera.

Scene of the 2009 Chunyun period inside  Beijing West Railway Station , Photo by Charlie Fong/Wikipedia

Scene of the 2009 Chunyun period inside Beijing West Railway Station, Photo by Charlie Fong/Wikipedia

And I feel completely in the zone.

The Chinese New Year, which celebrates the lunar New Year and Chinese Spring Festival is one of the worlds most celebrated festivals with one of the largest human migrations on the planet. This was witnessed by the amount of people both young and old who attended the celebration in Washington, D.C. and also curious onlookers who were drawn by the crowd.

The Dragon Dance, which signaled the end of DC's China Town Parade, is an age old Chinese tradition where dancers hold up a dragon with wooden poles and dance up and down. The dancing dragon signifies the spirit of the Chinese and good luck and health for the New Year.

While photographing the dancers, it occurred to me that the dragon is much more of a dance to the people holding the poles than it is a display of costume. I saw in the photos I took of the dancers' feet swiping from side to side resembling Kung Fu, a traditional Chinese martial art.

I was impressed by the agility of the dancers and how they fearlessly reared the head of the dragon in front of the fireworks, saluting the power, smoke, and noise. When I got home, I thought that the pictures were so powerful I could still smell the sulfur from the fireworks. But it turns out I was just smelling smoke from my hair!

Happy Chinese New Year!