Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival
Dancing dragons, Bollywood numbers, Hawaiian hula dancers, kung fu martial artists, and Taiwanese metal heads were just a snippet of who was showcased at this year’s 33rd Annual Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival. Held in the Archway of D.U.M.B.O. (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in Brooklyn, NY, the festival celebrated the colorfully diverse cultures of this region of the world. Food vendors were dishing out exotic treats including my favorite Japanese okonomiyaki, Taiwanese bubble tea, and Korean pork belly buns, while performances under the Archway and on the bandstand kept the crowd entertained. It was a beautiful, clear day, and though DUMBO is notorious for the noise pollution that spills from the overhead traffic and rattling trains on the bridge, this vibrant and eclectic day of celebration made us all think otherwise.
I ran into a few old friends at the festival (next stop on our Bare Feet™ list, Malaysia!) along with members of the NY Chinese Freemasons Athletic Club (featured in our Chinese New Year post) – Jay Koo, the vice president of the group, was kind enough to give me a mini-private lesson on Chinese drumming. Much harder than it looks, I can’t imagine drumming and dancing at the same time, all while dragons are wildly animated around you in celebration of the new year. Koo along with group’s president, Greg Gong, promised me a personal inside look on the whole Dragon Dance ceremony for next New Year’s festivities – I can’t wait! Thank you again, Jay and Greg, for an amazing time at the festival!
THE BARE FEET™ FIVE:
1. The Hsu-Nami: Remember Jack Hsu, our metal rocker from the NY Times Travel Show? Him and his group The Hsu-Nami performed at the festival as well – be sure to check out one of their upcoming shows!
2. Bollywood Axion: Another group whose performance I missed, Bollywood Axion graced the stage with some energetic Bollywood and bhangra dance routines. Classes are offered weekly, for more information go to BollywoodAxion.com.
3. Hula classes: The beautiful hula dancers featured on the video were from Polynesian Dance Productions – classes offered weekly! For more information, go to PolynesianDP.com.
4. I Heart Asians!: The funky tee-shirts are for sale on DikMojo.com – and they do custom tees as well, check them out!
5. Okonomiyaki: The best okonomiyaki in NYC is at Otafuku in the East Village. Just a small take-out counter joint, this traditional Japanese dish is to die for! 236 East 9th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Ave, NY, NY).