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Year of the Tiger roars into Café Metropolitain
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Year of the Tiger roars into Café Metropolitain

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Chinese Lunar
New Year Party
February 14
Café Metropolitain


While most Seattleites recognize February 14 as Valentine's Day, this year it was also the Chinese Lunar New Year. Café Metropolitain and Quyen Luu, vice president of the Lambert House Board of Directors, wasn't about to let the event pass without a celebration. With help from the Seattle Asian and LGBT communities, Quyen produced the spectacular Lunar New Year party, "Year of the TIGER."

Now in its second year, the Lunar New Year party has grown in audience size and participation. For its 2010 party, Quyen told SGN he set out to celebrate as many of the Asian cultures as possible. To achieve this, he booked Asian-themed performances, had a free buffet of Asian cuisine, and decorated the venue to symbolize the event.

The decorations were elaborate and very well-thought-out. Quyen fastened 12 large hanging branches that were handcrafted with hundreds of cherry blossoms of pink and yellow. Each branch had a variety of paper lanterns, which, according to Quyen, symbolize the "lights that shine bright to help guide with confidence." He told SGN the flowering branches symbolize "a fresh new year."

"I also put up Chinese umbrellas and other decor to help enhance the Lunar New Year theme," he said. "Traditionally, the Chinese would celebrate the Lunar New Year for as long as 15 days. In the U.S., most celebrate less than that."

To keep in line with tradition, Quyen says he will leave the decorations up for one week.

On Febuary 14, each guest was given a "lucky red envelope" with the Chinese picture of a tiger - 2010 is the year of the tiger. The envelopes symbolize happiness and prosperity, Quyen said. "Stuffed inside the envelopes were messages about practicing safe sex, a condom, lube, and a fortune cookie," he said. "Inside every fortune cookie was a message which read as a funny sexual joke. All the messages ended with 'in bed.'"

The message I got in my fortune cookie was, "Soon you will find great joy with someone special in your next adventure, in bed."

Quyen had the cookies custom-made in the International District. "I came up with this idea a few years ago," he said. "People just love the messages, and hope it comes true for them!"

Lion dancers and kung fu performers from the Jun Hong Wu Guan (Jun Hong Kung Fu & Sports Association) opened the show. The two lions danced to the beat of a drum while firecrackers exploded all around them. The Chinese dance is believed to help start the Lunar New Year by "driving off negative energy and bad spirits from the establishments by the lions, loud drums and firecrackers," according to Quyen.

Seattle drag artist Aleksa Manila, who did a fabulous job entertaining the crowd and announcing each act, emceed the show. This is the second time Aleksa has hosted the Lunar New Year party at Café Metropolitain. "She is so funny and witty," said Quyen.

Other performances included a drag performance by Regeane, a traditional Cambodian dance by Hong Chour and Coma KC Te, a dazzling performance by Kalika Manila, a high-energy lip-sync by drag artist Sahara Dior, and a memorable performance by Diamond.

Quyen encouraged all the guests and performers to dress in red or to celebrate the Lunar New Year theme. Many in the audience picked traditional Asian dress to represent a specific culture.

Like most events at Café Metropolitain, the show's proceeds went to benefit Lambert House. "So far, we've raised over $400 from Sunday night," said Quyen. Donations were made at the door, from a raffle give-away, and Jell-O shot sales.

"I am really grateful to have so many wonderful friends and such good support," he told SGN. "There are a lot of people that care so much for our community. This event wouldn't have been possible without the help from Anh Tran, Jon Morada, Brian Beeton, Jason Hamilton, Pierre Bounposeuth, Anj Bernabe, Nhan Thai, Trent Garris, Austin Som, and the staff of Café Metropolitain."

Quyen says he didn't expect so many people to show up on "a rainy Sunday night," but was glad that they did. "Everyone was having a good time, and the large crowd really helped make this event a success."

Quyen told SGN that he hopes to continue this tradition ever year.

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