Arts & Culture

Taiwanese Night Market showcases cultural performances, Asian cuisine

Hosted by Brown Taiwan Society, market offers festival fare from Banh-Mi’s to Impulse Dance

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sayles Hall was packed with students lined up for Night Market's offerings, including Vietnamese Banh-Mi's and bubble tea. The event also featured performances by Impulse, Daebak, Lion Dance and others.

Sayles Hall was packed Friday night as  students flocked to Night Market, an annual event hosted by the Brown Taiwan Society. Walking in, an excited hum greeted visitors, with people sharing food and stories.

Featuring student-run cultural organizations, performance groups and authentic homemade food, the 11th annual of Night Market received a “tremendous” response, said Claire Su ’17, president of BTS.

The origin of a Night Market — a place for socializing, snacking and cultural immersion — is very Taiwanese, Su said, adding that Brown’s version is less traditional and more of a place to laugh and enjoy oneself. Justin Liang ’18, social chair at BTS, said that some alums come back to Brown for the market after they graduate.

This year, culinary options ranged from Vietnamese Banh-Mi to Korean Kimchi Fried Rice, catering to a variety of tastes and spice tolerances.

Christina Chu ’18 of the Brown Vietnamese Students Association said that Night Market was successful because it was not what people expected. “It’s not like Andrews (Commons food) at all,” Chu said. “It tastes so much better.”

The amount of work involved for the participating student organizations can be stressful, said Michelle Zabat ’18 of the Filipino Alliance. “We have to make 250 portions of each dish,” Zabat said.

Michelle Ng ’18, treasurer of the Hong Kong Students Association, said she sees her participation in the Night Market as an extension of her duty as an international student to represent her country. “Even in a cosmopolitan school like Brown, there is scope for making people aware of our culture. And with food you don’t need a language.”

With an atmosphere of adventure, Night Market attracts students with varying degrees of exposure to Asian culture, with the vibrant colors and smells of Asian foods drawing in the casual passerby.

While Liang said it is hard to represent cultures solely through food or performance, he believes that they serve as a good “starting point“ for cultural appreciation.

During the market, a variety of performances including Lion Dance, Impulse and Daebak accompanied the array of food.

This year, Night Market raised over $4,800, which will be distributed amongst the participant groups depending on their food sales. But, Liu said, “it’s not a competitive atmosphere at all.”

“We strongly believe that it’s the spirit of the event and not the money that matters,” Su added.

Liang said almost all of the stalls sell out of food.

While they could not cite exact figures, Su and Liu said they would use the money raised by BTS to subsidize cultural events and gatherings. These may include workshops on how to make dumplings, scallion pancakes and mochi — a kind of Asian rice cake.