Chinese Lunar New Year
Kick off the Year of the Tiger at these citywide events.
Mon Feb 8 2010
If one week of celebrating the Year of the Tiger just isn’t enough, head to Queens: Flushing Town Hall (137-35 Northern Blvd between Bowne and Union Sts, Flushing, Queens; 718-463-7700, ext 222; flushingtownhall.org; Fri 12--Mar 28) is holding hosting two months of events, ranging from live music (like a performance by Meg Okura’s Pan-Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble on Sunday 14) to a traditional tea ceremony presented by Flushing’s own Luh Yu Tea Emporium. Begin by touring the ongoing exhibition “Tigers in the House” (Fri 12--Mar 28), marking the new year with tiger-inspired masks and prints by Chinese artists.
The New York Chinese Cultural Center has planned a Lunar New Year festival, featuring three different events over a two-week span. Each will include performances by renowned troupe Dance China NY and NYCCC’s School of the Arts’ students, incorporating traditional numbers like the fan dance (a fan is used to create precise movements, which build up a continuous rhythm) and new moves inspired by the power of the tiger. Locations vary; for more information, visit chinesedance.org. Sat 13 at 2, 7:30pm; Feb 21 at 12:30pm. $10--$30.
Alan Chow, the director and founder of the Chinese American Arts Council, presents “Year of the Tiger: A Chinese New Year Celebration” (David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, Broadway and W 65th St at Columbus Ave; 212-875-5456, new.lincolncenter.org/live; Thu 11 at 8:30pm, free), a colorful and explosive mix of Chinese cultures and traditions. Acts include elaborately made-up performers from the Peking Opera, who stun with their quick costume and mask changes; and traditional Chinese folk-dancing by the Chuan Opera Girls.
Chow down on Chinese food and admire the decor at the New York Lunar New Year Flower Festival (Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie St at Forsyth St; 212-964-2288, ueaa.org; Fri 12 10am--10pm, Sat 13 10am--7pm; free). The event features more than 50 vendors selling photos, Chinese lanterns, yummy prepackaged snacks (like rice cakes and dried mushrooms) and more. Since this is a flower festival, you can also contemplate the usage of blooms like the lotus and peach blossoms in Chinese homes—and, just in time for V-Day, purchase some red roses.
Underground party planners Thunder Gumbo will host Thunder Gumbo IV: Kiss of the Tiger at Wall Street Baths (88 Fulton St between Gold and Williams Sts; 646-246-8504, thundergumbo.com; Sat 13 11pm--5am; $25--$40; call or e-mail email@example.com to confirm availability on the day of the event), a 15,000-square-foot spa complex in the Financial District. Expect four DJs, two live bands, giant dragon costumes, boats in the pools, a hookah room, aromatherapy saunas, massages, a free magic hat for those who dress in kimonos or tiger-print bathing suits and, yes, even more. (Plus, proceeds go to nonprofit organization Save Tibet.) Says organizer Matt Namer: “People should come, because there will be dragons, boats, Jacuzzis, sandwiches and lots of tigers. Tiger prey is not recommended to attend.”
Enter the opulent opium den created by party-planning duo Gemini & Scorpio at the Vault of Golden Vapors (Brooklyn Urban Sanctuary Loft, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; R.S.V.P. to firstname.lastname@example.org for exact location; geminiandscorpio.com; Sun 14 7pm--2am; $20--$40). Enjoy intimate performances by Shien Lee of Dances of Vice, composer Natti Vogel, Asian-inspired burlesque performers Dame Cuchifrita and Grandma Fun, and “opium den madam” the Flying Fox. Knock back a few too many exotic alcoholic concoctions by the House of St. Eve (including lychee martinis), devour some dim sum delivered straight from Chinatown and let your mind—and maybe some other body parts—drift over to a state of euphoria.
Don’t just stay in your apartment watching Enter the Dragon; see trained martial arts experts perform kung fu live during Fighthouse’s Chinese New Year celebration (122 W 27th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-807-9202, fighthousestudios.com; Feb 21 at 2pm, $10). Demos will include twisting joint locks to escape a hold, throwing around double-edged swords and staffs, and Ying Jow Pai Eagle Claw—one of the oldest gripping takedown techniques, which involves doling out blows to a person’s pressure points.
It’s cold, the economy still sucks, and there’s going to be six more weeks of winter. But Pacific College’s Chinese New Year celebration (915 Broadway at 21st St; 212-982-3456, ext 229; pacificcollege.edu; Feb 20 10am--3pm), geared toward health and wellness, might be just the thing to chase the doldrums away. The college will offer a plethora of free activities, including tongue readings, acupuncture demonstrations and informational sessions on careers in massage therapy.
The under-40 set welcomes the New Year in boozy fashion at the Young Associates Annual Chinese New Year Soiree: The Year of the Tiger (Red Egg, 202 Centre St between Hester and Howard Sts; 212-744-8181, chinainstitute.org; Feb 20 9pm--1am, $85). On top of an open bar and dim sum, partygoers can play casino games like blackjack and craps. It’s recommended that attendees wear traditional Chinese attire, such as the Mandarin (qipao) dresses for women and Mao (zhongshan) suits for men; but if you can’t swing that, red or gold threads should do.
The annual Flushing Lunar New Year parade (begins at Union St and 37th Ave, and ends at Main St and 39th Ave, Flushing, Queens; 718-463-7700; Feb 20 11am--1pm, free) winds its way through the second-largest Chinatown in the city, and is actually three years older than the bigger event in Chinatown. Check out traditional Chinese performances, like the dragon dance, with many performers in a long dragon costume mimicking the mythical creature’s movements. Approximately 4,000 marchers are estimated to participate, and other Asian communities in Flushing often join in too.
In order to feel as if you’ve adequately ushered in the Year of the Tiger-—the first time the animal has starred on the Chinese lunar calendar since 1998—hit the biggest parade in town. Lunar New Year lasts a week, beginning Sunday 14. There are celebrations happening across the boroughs, including Better Chinatown’s firecracker ceremony and cultural festival (Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie St at Grand St, Sun 14 11am--3pm), marked by the explosion of 600,000 firecrackers at noon to chase away evil spirits. But the 11th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival on February 21 (Parade begins on Mott St at Hester St; 917-660-2402, betterchinatown.com; 11am--4pm, free) is the largest winter public event in NYC. Catching up with the spectacle shouldn’t be a problem: A roving party of 3,000 marchers—including lion, unicorn and dragon dancers—will saunter up and down every major street in Chinatown (Mott, Canal, Bayard and Forsyth Streets, and East Broadway). Approximately 400,000 spectators are expected, so the organizers recommend viewing the less-crowded proceedings from Allen Street, between Canal and Grand Streets. You can commence gorging on jau gok dumplings, mandarin oranges and a plate of Buddha’s delight immediately thereafter.