Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg hosted a huge, multi-day celebration of Chinese New Year... and just like last year, the Pipsqueak's dance class from the CCACC school performed for the crowd (February 7th). Last year her class performed a ribbon dance that was later repeated at several venues over the course of the year, but this year they were learning a more complex dance from another part of China -- it actually looks & sounds vaguely Arabic so it might be from the Uighur or another Western Chinese group, but I really don't know.
AJ always takes Miri to the mall early for costume change, set-up, etc. and the rest of us follow later in another car. This was a good thing last year, since I was running up to the stage literally as the girls lined up to begin their performance. This year we got there a lot earlier -- only to find Cousin E and family already holding seats for us in front of the performance area near some of our friends whose daughters were also dancing. AJ periodically appeared & disappeared as backstage preparations moved forward, but we were able to enjoy the opening lion dance and several other performances before our girls came on.
|The Tai Yim Kung Fu group getting ready.|
|Working the crowd...|
|A quick personnel change mid-dance|
|Oh, no -- I'm being eaten by the lion! (This happens to me every 2-3 years||...)|
|AJ feeds the hungry beast.|
|Great luck -- Mom caught some lettuce when the lion barfed! LOL|
Performances or not, the kids were all soon getting restless so we all headed farther down the mall to see some of the CNY-related exhibits. There were a couple of "just plain shopping" stops along the way, so I took a few minutes to run back & watch some of the kung fu demonstrations that left me convinced there are kids out there less than 1/4 my age who could break me in half if they wanted to.
Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned at the restaurant. We had hoped to be there in time for their usual afternoon dim sum offering (which is usually pretty good) but after being brusquely offered several items we didn't want from one single cart and having to order a couple of things from the regular menu, it became nearly impossible to get hold of a member of the serving staff. It didn't take too long to figure out why -- in plain view of the (increasingly annoyed) patrons of the restaurant, the staff all gathered at one end of the dining room for their own Chinese New Year celebration! We all agreed that they were certainly allowed to celebrate all they wanted -- but should have either closed the place or at least warned the customers that service would essentially be suspended for nearly an hour while they did. (I posted my first really negative Yelp review from my iPhone.) We eventually had enough food, but none of us felt a need to stay any longer than absolutely necessary so -- after clearing up a mistake in which we were billed for food we never got -- we started rounding up the kids for our respective trips home.
 Sorry, but I'm still working on finding out which region and/or ethnic minority this year's dance is from! I'll post the info when I get it.