A collaborative event hosted by the Chinese Hongpao Society and Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) St Andrews, this year’s edition of the Chinese Lunar New Year Gala attempted to recreate the annual Chinese New Year Gala which takes place in China. First held in 1986, the CCTV Gala, is described as “the most watched television program in the world”, according to the Hollywood Reporter, with Celine Dion performing in 2013. The Year of the Goat drew to a close and revellers all over ushered in the Year of the Monkey on 8 February. Held at the Byre theatre, the audience comprised of students (both from China and abroad), locals and other Chinese members of the community who are miles away from home.
As the most important festival in China, Lunar New Year is a time for reunion and family. The committee members had set up a video on loop to wish the audience best wishes and made a montage about the struggle of being so far from home, a sentiment that resonated amongst most.
In the style of the original CCTV Gala, the St Andrean edition was also an amalgam of musical performances, skits and dances. I really enjoyed the plethora of music that was on offer – the evening began with dances from North Western China and a medley of different types of Chinese music. The outfits were stunning – far removed from the Qipaos that are commonly associated with Chinese culture. As a tribute to the Korean wave, there was a medley of Kpop music which was well received by the audience. To create a balance, there was an acoustic performance of Riptide by Vance Joy, with the performers wearing red plaid shirts, keeping with the theme of Chinese New Year (red being associated with prosperity).
One of my favourite items was a journey through music from the 1980s-2000s, where China’s KTv (or Karaoke) culture was put in the spotlight. The skit put on by the students and revolved around a director trying to hire actors for his production – the main joke of the segment revolving around the idiom ‘so happy I could die’ – had the audience in stitches.
It was a great opportunity for cultural immersion – the organisers were considerate of the non-Chinese speakers in the audience and demonstrated this through displays where translations were a play-by-play of the scene on stage. Also, the MCs of the Gala were always following up Chinese dialogue with an English translation. I think this attention to detail made the event enjoyable to all guests. It was a great night and one that I will definitely remember.