Campus celebrates Cambodian new year

Security was tight at the Cambodian New Year celebration last Saturday in Smith Center Ballroom.

Elevators were locked up and put out of operation so no one could sneak into the event. Attendees had to enter through the door facing Neuberger Hall and go through a basic scanning for the first part of the event. At the end of the cultural performances, security guards asked people to clear out in order to be scanned by a metal detector.

“Nothing happened,” said Kyra Ngo, co-president of Portland State Khmer Student Association. This was just for safety purposes.

During the second part, more people came, especially teenagers and young adults, according to Ngo. They had to turn down some people because the Ballroom capacity of 700 people was exceeded. However, Ngo is proud of the turnout.

In fact, they might plan a New Year bash again next year, using the profits the event brought in this year. Half of the proceeds will go into the Khmer Student Association account to be used for a community and member’s gathering, in an attempt to recruit more members.

Ngo said if they organize another New Year program, her club will ask the community for advice on where the event should be located and invite other dance organizations to perform.

This year the Oregon Dance Troupe faciliated the cultural dance performances and conducted a small play.

There were five dances, each lasting less than half an hour. The first dance was the “Drum Dance,” performed by young adults, as they welcomed the new year. Young girls performed the “Candle Dance” next. This dance was to ask for God’s blessing for peace and prosperity, according to the event program.

Next, young boys “monkeyed” around in what is called the “Monkey Dance.” This dance is an allegorical representation of a young boy to a monkey, both of which Cambodians describe as “naughty and restless.” This was followed by the “Flower Dance.”

Wrapping up the dance performances was the “Adolescence Dance,” which was created by a member of the Cambodian royal family. This dance “praises the perfect beauty of a young princess,” a small play which is an equivalent to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

The dance instructors were presented with a bouquet of flowers and applause from the audience for their six months of work in preparing the dancers for this event.

Later, audience members took to the dance floor and celebrated until midnight.