If anyone needed further proof of the Vancouver Police Department’s reputation as a giant wet blanket, a good example played out on the city’s East Side this past Saturday. Four or five costumed young men, probably from a local martial-arts school, were working their way down the north side of Hastings Street west of Nanaimo, performing the 1,000-year-old lion dance in front of Chinese-owned businesses.
The dance, involving ritual moves by two people inside an elaborate lion costume while accompanied by cymbals and a large drum, is meant to bring good fortune to the shop. It usually involves setting off a small string of firecrackers to chase away evil spirits. It is a common sight in Chinatown and any area with a large number of Chinese businesses during the new-year period. On this day, at about 1:45 p.m., passersby were watching and clearly enjoyng the dance in front of Como Market at 2431 East Hastings. Passing buses full of tourists heading out to the nearby Pacific Coliseum Olympic venue were obviously charmed by the colourful spectacle.
Then a Vancouver police car came cruising down the Olympic lane in front of the store, turned the corner, and stopped. A female officer strode up and told the performers to move along, saying they were a hazard on the sidewalk. The young men and the audience seemed stunned. One woman called the cop a “spoilsport’, to which she responded: “I can’t turn a blind eye to this!”
She stood there determinedly, with onlookers shaking their heads, until the men rather shamefacedly walked west on Hastings. Then she got back in her car.
That will teach people to perform a centuries-old cultural tradition within a few blocks of an Olympic venue.
Besides, those firecrackers were, technically, tiny sticks of dynamite.