Traditional Asian celebration shares tasty grub and good times
February 6, 2016
As opposed to typical, business-like day markets filled with people running errands and hurrying from place to place, Asian night markets are known for their leisurely atmosphere for eating, shopping and strolling. Though found popularly in Taiwan as well as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Thailand, the Philippines and international Chinatowns, Santa Clara’s Asian-Pacific Islander Student Union has, over the years, brought this tradition to the Santa Clara community on Jan. 30.
It is the club’s biggest event of Winter Quarter, with planning starting in the Fall. Attendees can play games and participate in raffles, while watching live music and student performances and snacking on grub offered by 10 different Multicultural Center-run food stands.
Each MCC group had a tent decorated with Christmas lights and paper lanterns, and offered between one and six dishes. I immediately spent the three dollars I brought to the event on the Korean Student Association’s kimchi fried rice—a chili-smeared pickled cabbage mixed in with traditional fried rice—and was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was.
As I was now out of money, my friend, fellow first year and member of KSA, APSU and Barkada (the Filipino student association), Will Villamayor, purchased a spam musubi for the both of us to try. Made simply of rice, nori, spam and sesame seeds, the snack was light and, just as Will promised, familiar tasting—like sushi.
Then the performances began with a trio singing, keyboarding and beatboxing to the song “Kanye” by Chainsmokers. First year Junha Park followed up after them, accompanied solely by a Diabolo (a Chinese yo-yo). Founded during the ancient Ming dynasty, the yo-yo consists of two discs connected by an axle and is kept spinning on a string tied between the two sticks Park employed.
Transitioning back into the twenty-first century, Vickie Whang sang and played Tori Kelly’s “Beautiful Things” on her guitar, and Marissa Martinez performed two spoken-word poems about on-campus events and movements she’s experienced over the past four years, like the Black Lives Matter movement.
It was in the first intermission that I tried my first egg puff, courtesy the Chinese Student Association, who had been cooking in Benson since 11 a.m. A tiny snack, about a quarter the size of my palm, the puffs are comprised of puff pastry sheets filled with half a boiled egg, salt and pepper, and brushed with milk.
“The egg puffs are always my favorite,” said junior Nick Spinelli as he popped a few into his mouth. “They just taste like waffles mixed with pancakes.”
Around us, students continued to meander between stands in search of the perfect dish or game. I destroyed Will at Duck War, a game involving shooting rubber ducks across a foil pan of water with water guns, and was allowed to put my winning ticket in the next raffle. Everything was right in the world.
Not fifteen minutes later, and following a trio of hula dancers, sophomore Mikey Hao and I performed a series of slam poems on stage about our love for our mothers, the complexities of love and the universality of slam poetry. I was mildly terrified when my mic went out at one point and I could not find a familiar face in the crowd to focus on, but everyone’s encouragement calmed me down. The 80 English tea bags I was given as a gift for performing will surely have the opposite effect.
Without a doubt, the most enchanting performances of the night came after the second intermission. Chelsea Andon, Audrey Gomes and Songyi Chun sang a Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys medley, while Andon led on her acoustic guitar. With recognizable songs like “Isn’t She Lovely” and “If I Ain’t Got You,” the trio was accompanied, also, by the singing of the crowd. I think it goes without saying that we were all a little in the feels for those few minutes.
In preparation for senior and emcee-proclaimed “all-time favorite of Night Market” junior David Lyons’ juggling act, all lights in Locatelli were shut off. In exchange, Lyons brought out three color-changing balls and wowed the audience for about eight minutes with the seamless coordination and professionalism his fans always expect.
“I usually get a few nerves before juggling,” Lyons said, “especially at bigger events like Love Jones, but (Night Market) was so much more casual and laid-back. It was nice to know people weren’t there only to watch the performances, and they didn’t have to watch me if they were more interested in the food or talking to friends in the back.”
But if there was one performance that most assuredly everyone watched, it was Hipnotik—Santa Clara’s number one hip-hop dance team, who will be dancing at Super Bowl 50’s halftime show this Sunday. Decked out all in black, the troupe entertained as always with their signature, fast-paced gyrations, splits and other moves. If you weren’t already planning on watching the Super Bowl, you have every reason to now.
With the evening’s performances done, Wong came up on stage around midnight to thank all the participating clubs and acts, but the event didn’t close down until well around 1 a.m.—the MCC clubs were still giving away their remaining food to any remaining hungry souls.
All entertainment aside, APSU’s Night Market is most importantly a opportunity for students to learn about different Asian cultures by sampling their food and jamming out to the entertainment.
“I guess it’s kind of a hybrid event. That’s what I really enjoy about it,” Lyons said. “It’s very educational. The atmosphere is incredible and every time I go I learn about a new dish that I didn’t even know existed.”