Tue, Jun 13, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Pole dancing under a 101 sky

Celebrating ‘tradition’ with pole dancers, one of the Taiwan’s more eyebrow raising traditions

AFP, Taipei

Dancers pole dance on electric flower trucks during a carnival to promote beer in Taipei on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Dozens of pole dancers performed on ornate neon floats at a festival in Taipei on Saturday in celebration of one of the nation’s more eyebrow raising cultural traditions.

The event sought to promote Taiwan’s famous electronic flower trucks (電子花車), traveling floats loaded with garish lights in the shape of everything from dragons to ferris wheels.

The trucks are used to take performers — usually scantily-clad women and musicians — to private and public events, including weddings and even funerals, and are particularly popular in smaller towns and rural areas.

The tradition, dating back to the 1970s, reflects Taiwan’s folk religion and culture, which is a unique mixture of the spiritual and the earthly. For some, the trucks and their colorful performers are seen as the best way to create maximum fun and noise at important events.

But critics dismiss them as vulgar and tawdry. Over the decades, performances on the trucks usually featured striptease — with pole dancing a more recent addition. Stripping nude is rarely seen in public now because it is a criminal offense, but partial stripping is still often performed, even at grave sites.

Spokeswoman Wang Yi-ting said Saturday’s “Taiwan Color Stage Fest” — which is in its second year — aimed to bring the flower truck tradition to the capital, where it is less known than in central and southern Taiwan. Pole dancers performed to pop music on 22 trucks at a square near the capital’s landmark skyscraper Taipei 101 as the crowds, despite the rain, enjoyed snacks and free beer. There was no stripping and dancers were instructed to wear “more conservative” outfits, Wang said.

“We also want to encourage people in this unique and traditional performing business who are concerned about being eliminated in today’s diverse and digitalized entertainment industry,” Wang added. The event was partly inspired by a book by acclaimed Taiwanese photographer Shen Chao-liang (沈昭良), who traveled across the island to shoot the floats.

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