Hiring a Chinese lion dance troupe is a sure way to create a memorable cultural experience and get some fun photos. Lion dances are performed for important occasions, such as Chinese New Year, business grand openings, and of course weddings! The lion dance is meant to serve as a blessing to the newlyweds. The lions represents wisdom and luck and are supposed to chase away evil spirits.
Each lion consists of two athletes who are usually members of a martial arts school. The dancers mimic the movements of playful and high energy lions.The lions perform in front of the couple, who presents an offering of a payment inside of a red envelope, which is tied to a green vegetable (lettuce or bok choy works well). Make sure you ask the lion dancers what kind of participation is expected from the bride and groom ahead of time. They may expect you to stand in front of the room holding a leafy vegetable on a stick. Meanwhile, the lions will present the couple with a scrolls displaying lucky messages, such as “a hundred years of harmony” or “an everlasting union of hearts.”
The lions then dance around the room and interact with the guests. You can hand out red envelopes with small bills to some of the guests ($2 is fine) and have them feed them to the lion. The dance is accompanied by a group of percussionists who drum loudly and bang on cymbals to scare away the spirits.
You should hire at least two lions, but if you want to go all out, you can request more. The going rate to hire a dance troupe is around $300-$800 and they will generally dance for 10-20 minutes. It may seem like 10 minutes won’t be long enough, but it that is generally 2-3 songs. As festive as the lion dance is, it’s loud and can get tedious if it goes on for two long. Although lion dances are traditionally performed during receptions, 20 minutes can be a bit long to fit into a reception with a full program. As an alternative, you can hire the lions to perform during cocktail hour at a lower volume and energy level.