Maybe death isn’t such a scary proposition after all. At least that’s what people may think based on the funeral procession for a former Taiwanese government official. In life, Tung Hsiang faithfully served the city of Chiayi as County Council Speaker. In death, he served as the source for one hell of a good time. Just ask the pole dancers.
Hsiang passed away in late December at the age of 76. He served the government for over three decades. During that time, the former speaker gained a reputation for ‘enjoying a lively and fun time.’ His son made the decision to include the pole dancers in the funeral procession. According to the young man, he had a dream three days after the elder Hsiang died. In the dream, Tung explained how much he loved crowded places. As a result, he knew including the exotic dancers would generate a lot of attention, leading to the type of crowded spectacle his father would have enjoyed.
In addition to the fifty pole dancers, the deceased’s family rented fifty brightly colored foreign cars. The dancers performed choreographed moves on these Jeeps, with each import having a stripper poll attached to the roof. Onlookers who turned out for the funeral also saw a marching band, traditional totems, and flag bearers. In total, there were over 200 people in the procession, while over 10,000 spectators watched.
While many of the urban viewers were surprised by the inclusion of pole dancers, the practice is quite common. Since the 1980s, rural funerals in both Taiwan and China frequently include the entertainment. In part, the tradition is to fulfill a religious obligation to amuse the spirits that observe funerals. In earlier generations, professional paid female wailers served this purpose. Chinese gangsters added their own flare to the practice when the replaced the wailers with strippers. However, due to recent legislation, it is illegal to have nude women at funerals.