Dancing lion

Troops of dancers in foil trousers leapt down from the open truck, determined to celebrate the mid-Autumn festival despite the rising river. Metal poles were hastily erected whilst the two halves of the lion psyched themselves up, springing like elastic into the night. The bulbous masked face of the lion trainer was fanned as a blur of people ran around him. An unconvincing drag queen elaborately drew in the crowd with her white gloved arms. Full Chang beers were abandoned on the tables as people ducked under the umbrellas to watch.

The music began. The heavy drums and shimmering cymbals shook the lion to life, and his curved eyebrows danced in delight to reveal glowing ruby eyes. His mouth gaped wide open under long whiskers as he jumped across the uneven poles. One misstep and the show was over. The crowd soon hungered for more and the lion doubled in height, revealing his acrobatic puppeteers who now stood on one pair of legs. There was a visible slip of a foot. A quick recovery but one that caused the spectators to look at each other. Water covered us all and it was a futile effort to keep the poles wiped dry.

The drums expanded to fill the silence. The trainer jumped up and furiously swung his fan to spur his beast on. The lion’s eyebrows were raised in surprise as he contemplated the task ahead. Without warning, he nimbly ran across the jagged line on his hind legs, before launching back down to all fours. The lion’s bottom waggled as he spat fireworks and the crowd roared.

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