Uncertain economy hits lion dancers

They are usually busy during the Chinese New Year period, visiting businesses, shopping malls and HDB homes to usher in good luck.

But the slowdown in the Singapore economy has resulted in a drop in bookings for lion dance troupes this year.

Many have experienced a 10 per cent decrease in bookings, with a few suffering a 30 per cent dip, according to lion dance troupes The New Paper spoke to.

Hequan Institute of Wushu and Lion Dance used to average 100 performances at HDB flats every year, but it has received only around 70 so far this year.

Mr John Lee, 36, the coordinator at the institute, told The New Paper yesterday: "There has been a drop for HDB flats. Bookings from companies and shopping malls remain the same."

Mr Nicholas Cheong, 43, lion dance coach at Xin Cheng Events and Entertainment, revealed business has dropped by 30 per cent.


He said: "It is a bad trend. Business keeps going down."

The troupe used to perform eight to nine times a day during the Chinese New Year period,but so far this year, it has averaged six performances daily.

Clients used to call for bookings, but this time, Mr Cheong and his troupe members have been picking up the phone to drum up business.

Mr Calvin Loke, 38, a coach at Nam Sieng Dragon and Lion Dance Activity Centre, said his troupe had around 100 more bookings at this stage of the festive season last year.

To lessen the impact, the centre has increased the cost of a performance, from $388 to $500 for a package featuring two lions.

In general, it can cost upwards of $1,000 to hire a lion dance troupe.

For some, there has been a silver lining, though.

Although business has dropped, Mr John Lee, of Hequan Institute, said the red packets from clients have contained more money, perhaps to increase their luck for the new year.

And there are a handful of troupes that are actually seeing a spike in bookings.

On Monday, Shin Min Daily News reported that many companies are booking lion dances to help their business flourish amid the uncertain times.

Nam Long Tan Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe has about 20 more bookings compared to last year.

Lion Dance Singapore has seen an even bigger spike - a 120 per cent increase for its troupe compared to last year.

Said Mr Cyrus Lee, 27, coordinator at Lion Dance Singapore: "We were expecting business to drop drastically.

"It was a good surprise for us."


This article was first published on February 1, 2017
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