Knowing that we were to celebrate the Chinese New Year this evening at The Family House in Totton, I delved into my old slide boxes and found some of a similar event taken in March 1980, just before we moved from Horse & Dolphin Yard to Gracedale Road in Furzedown, South West London. Each Chinese New Year takes its name from an animal sign of the Chinese zodiac. 2015 is the Year of the Goat.
These two pictures feature the Lion Dance which is always performed at the celebrations, dancers often visiting restaurants, such as China Garden in Morden, and The Family House.
My first image includes the Polar Bear pub at the corner of Lisle Street, which is now a ‘Ku Bar’, self-proclaimed as ‘London’s Finest Gay Bar’. The De Hems pub, in the second picture, remains in its original use. A description of our relationship with that establishment during the time we were neighbours, and certain other Soho stories, is to be found in ‘Meandering Through Soho’.
When we first saw the lion dance, we, like many others, thought it was a dragon dance. In fact the latter is very different, requiring many more dancers than the two who perform that of the lion. Dragon dancers are visible, because they prop up the mythical creature on poles. Spectators cannot see the lion dancers because they are inside the enormous puppet. Those shown here are, naturally, rather larger than those that visit eating places.
During the preparations for last year’s New Year, a couple asked me to photograph them against the backdrop of Gerrard Street, which looks very different today than it did during the 1970s.
This evening The Family House did not disappoint. I have seen a few Lion Dances since the Soho seventies, non better than The Marchwood Lion Dance group who performed during our meal tonight. Accompanied by dramatic drumming the dancers entertained the diners for some considerable time.
One of the delights of this establishment is that they play the music of our youthful era with recordings by the original artistes. It is fun trying to remember them all. I must admit Minnie Riperton’s ‘Lovin’ You’ had me beaten. But not Jackie.
We dined on a selection from the eat as much as you like menu, and drank T’Sing Tao beer.
All the way home a flashing dashboard was instructing us to ‘check emissions’. Since neither of us knew either how to do this or what to do about what we might learn, this made for quite a hairy journey home. But we made it. A visit to Downton Service Station in the morning will be in order.