Saigon streets come back to life after holiday with lucky lion dances

Thanh Nien News

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Lunar New Year celebrations in Vietnam are not complete without some colorful lions and dragons



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 A lion dance troupe performs in front of a shop in Ho Chi Minh City on February 15. Many companies and shops in the city are reopening after the week-long Tet break and they believe starting the year with a lion dance will bring in good luck. Photos: Thanh Tung/Tuoi Tre
Another troupe in front of a shop on Nguyen Cu Trinh Street, District 1. Performance fees range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the fame of the troupe and how big the show is.
 A staff member of a company "feeds" a lion lucky money in red envelops, a practice known locally as li xi (pronounced lee see).
People believe giving money to the dancing lions will be rewarded with luck throughout the year. Many simply want to tip the performers. 
The lions draw a big crowd on the street.  
A quick tea break during a show. 
And there are dragons too. 
A performer climbs up a pole, which is one of the most difficult lion dance acts that requires around a decade of training and constant practice.
 Some performances amuse the lion dancers themselves.
Each dance troupe has to carry along a lot of heavy equipment such as poles and drums for their performance. 
 Lion dance troupes in the city do not have a normal Tet break as it is their main time of business.

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