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Quick Q with a creative: Lion dancer Kim Pham


Kim Pham (middle) with other lion dance members.

Kim Pham, a fourth-year senior at KU, majoring in biology with a minor in Spanish, is the president of the lion dance club on campus. Lion dancing is a traditional dance in Chinese culture where performers mimic movements of a lion. They usually perform around Lunar New Year.

There was a team at my high school, and I really wanted to join and learn how to lion dance. It’s a cultural thing, and I’ve always grown up watching lion dancers at all the new year events that happened in Witchia, Kansas. There’s a big Vietnamese population there. Every new year at temples or even restaurants, they have lion dancers come out and they light firecrackers.

There’s a layer of sexism though. Boys only did lion dancing, but the club I was interested in mostly were girls.

Coming to KU was a bit of a cultural shock, because it’s not a very diverse campus. Sometimes I got really homesick, and making this lion dance team was my way of coping with that homesickness.

The lion dance is pretty common through China and parts of South and East Asia. There’s two styles: and hunx son and foot sun. I’m used to dancing in the hunx sun style. Northern China is more rooted in Kungfu movements, but there’s a greater emphasis on Kungfu. It gives you more freedom on what you can do.

It’s a dance that takes a lot of repetition. Each part of the dance has its own learning curve. I think drumming is the hardest thing, because you have all these rhythms, you gotta learn. And lion dancing, you have these tricks you have to learn with the other person, and you have to work and coordinate with them. It takes a while to build that level of communication and try to carry this person and help them land on their legs.

The lion costume is kind of heavy, and we rest it on our shoulders. You have one person carrying the head and the other hunched over carrying the tail. It’s a very noisy performance with a drummer, percussion, and gong.


Dancers performing in traditional costume for a performance at the Student Union. 

I think lion dancing is very helpful for me in maintaining a connection to my culture. There’s always this pressure to stimulate with American culture, especially white culture. I definitely don’t enjoy the idea of abandoning any part of me to fit in or whatever.

Being in biology, I also am like a EMT on the side. The percussion part, the drumming, is supposed to be the heartbeat of the lion. Translating that to the rest of my life and working as an EMT, volunteer firefighter, I respect that notion of maintaining that heartbeat. As long as that heartbeat is going, I feel like things are good.

The biggest misconception about lion dancing I’ve heard or seen is people have this assumption that you have to be Asian to learn it. I believe it’s never too late to start a new hobby. Something you are completely unfamiliar with. I’ve actually seen pretty good lion dancers who are not Asian.

The Lion Dance Club meets on Monday nights at 8 p.m. in the Woodruff Auditorium.

Person 1: This song slaps.

Person 2: Your mom slaps.

Person 1: Thank you, my mom is a kind and wonderful lady.

 Person 1: I’m so sick of alcohol.

Person 2: I don’t know, I’m getting stronger every day. I love it.

Person 1: Do you do the vegan wrap here?

Person 2: We can do the chicken wrap with no cheese?

Person 1: I’ll take the Beyond Burger please. 

Person 1: Oh my God! I feel like I know you somehow…

Person 2: Yeah, we went to high school together. 

Person 1: Oh! *walks off*

Guy 1: Is the black market even real? Has anyone ever been on it?

Guy 2: I tried once but I couldn’t figure out how to get on.

Guy 1: I stayed up until 2 am watching Disney plus

Guy 2: I told my girlfriend I fell asleep but I was actually watching the Mandalorian.

Girl 1: How long have you guys been dating?

Girl 2: Since the summer, well actually for like two years but it’s a long story.

Girl 1: Who are you looking for?

Girl 2: This guy, wait I found him. Fanny pack boy. He flipped off my professor after a test and ran out of the classroom.

Girl 1: How did you choose KU? 

Girl 2: Honestly, I flipped a coin. 

Boy 1: Did I tell you? I think I had a threesome this weekend.

Boy 2: Woah, hold up. You think?

Boy 1: I was born a Phi Delt.

Boy 2: Please don’t ever say that again.

Girl 1: How do you get your boobs to look like that?

Girl 2: I don’t ever wear a bra? I don’t know. 

Girl 1: I just really want a guy to bend me over you know?

Girl 2: How do you know? You’re a virgin!

Guy: Sometimes I wish I could just be a dog and sleep all day. 

Girl: You wake up at like three every day. 

Guy: I know.

Girl: So…

Guy: So does that make me a dog or something?

Girl 1: I wish I was a little bit taller.

Girl 2: I wish I was balder.

Girl 1: I wish I had a...wait, wait, wait balder?

Guy 1: Let’s slap dicks

Guy 2: You ever pee and it feels like throwing up?

Woman 1: *holding baby* He would have been safer at the Hawk

Woman 2: Oh absolutely.

Girl 1: I would never date that guy.

Girl 2: Well, it depends how much money he has.

Girl 1: I’m going to the doctor to see if I have bronchitis before I hook up with him again.

Girl 2: Yeah that’s smart so you don’t give it to anyone else. 

Girl 1: No I mean I want to make sure I infect him.

Guy 1: I'm cutting some of my unnecessary costs, starting with Juuling.

Guy 2: Ight man, good luck.

Guy 1: Actually I might just start chewing

Guy 1: How was work?

Guy 2: My manager was chastising me for not dressing up in a Halloween costume, she doesn’t understand I’m strictly here to get paid.

Guy 1: I am so tired of this week, man

Guy 2: Dude it’s Monday

Guy 1: I know

Person#1: I want to be on the first ship to mars

Person#2: Not me, I doubt they have Wi-Fi

Perons#1: Yeah but at least they’re evolving up there. We’re all just devolving.

Girl 1: Um, I don’t eat pig.

Girl 2: You eat bacon all the time, bitch.

Guy 1: You better get going. 

Guy 2: Yeah, see ya. I’m off to get some Adderall.

Girl 1: Are you home right now?

Girl 2: Yeah, why?

Girl 1: I bought a cat

Girl 1: I just don't understand what fishing is for.

Girl 2: I don't know. Food, maybe?

Guy: I’m just gonna have to like carry an entire box of spiders up the hill tomorrow.

Girl: What?

Guy: Yeah, just like a hundred spiders in a box.

Guy 1: Sometimes ya just gotta give yourself a haircut.

Guy 2: Dude, you shaved half your head. That’s not a haircut, that’s a mess.

Girl 1: Can you eat fruit raw?

Girl 2: How else are you supposed to eat it?

Girl: That class is killing us. ​But they say rest is for the dead.

Guy: Well, at least we'll be rested.

Girl: She's not in class this semester.

Guy: Maybe she's dead.

Girl: Or studying abroad.

Girl: They're like oil and water.

Guy: Wow, you're so good with analogies.