Singing, dance performances and students eating green onion pancakes dominated the Main Mall at the ninth annual night market hosted by the Taiwanese American Students’ Association.
Association co-president Bryan Han said night markets are an important cultural tradition in East Asia, especially in Taiwan, which has the biggest night markets in the region. Han said night markets are the Taiwanese equivalent to a state fair and offer unique food at low prices. Han said the organization designed the event, which about 1,000 people attended Friday night, to highlight the Taiwanese culture, which is frequently overshadowed by the Chinese culture.
“There’s this ongoing argument whether Taiwan is its own nation or whether it’s under China,” Han said. “We try to embrace the Taiwanese culture as a separate identity to China, but we also embrace our shared culture together.”
Han said the night market’s interactive elements, such as a food station that showed people how to make green onion pancakes, allow non-Asian students to actively learn about Taiwanese culture.
“Food is just so universal that everyone can understand it,” Han said. “This is a piece of Taiwanese culture that people can embrace and they can make it for themselves on a daily basis.”
Seventeen student organizations hosted booths at the fair that offered games, face painting and crafts. Nine musical and dance acts performed, including a Chinese lion dancing group, traditional Chinese fan dancers and Los Angeles Taiwanese-American musician Dawen.
The Texas Dragon/Lion Dance Team performed a lion dance with two performers under a red and black lion while six other performers danced and played percussion. Client contact manager Jin Kwon said their lion performance, frequently used in Chinese New Year celebrations, helps spread awareness of East Asian culture.
“America is a diverse, multicultural country,” Kwon said. “I feel like it’s always important for people to see what other kind of cultures there are and what other cultures do.”
The three members of the Texas Chinese Fan Dance Company performed a dance with fabric fans that incorporated modern elements like music that featured saxophones. Company co-founder Janet Zhou said the group’s performance helped overturn misconceptions people may have had about Chinese dance.
“Our main thing was just showing them how unique, how beautiful Chinese dance can be,” Zhou said. “When I say I do Chinese dance, [people] think ‘Oh, is that the really slow kind of thing the grannies do in the parks?’ And it’s like, ‘No, not really, there is a different side to it.’”
Studio art freshman Briana Blacknall said she enjoyed the large number of activities at the event and the large crowd.
“It’s really lively and when I first got here it was really exciting,” Blacknal said. “It makes me want to go to Taiwan and go to an actual night market.”