UPDATED: ‘Dancing aunties’ spark new Hong Kong protest

Policemen face protesters during a demonstration in the northwestern district of Tuen Mun, near the border with the Chinese city of Shenzhen, sparked by anger over provocative “dancing aunties” who have long vexed local residents. Photo via AFP.
Policemen face protesters during a demonstration in the northwestern district of Tuen Mun, near the border with the Chinese city of Shenzhen, sparked by anger over provocative “dancing aunties” who have long vexed local residents. Photo via AFP.

Renewed confrontations broke out between police and protesters in Hong Kong on Saturday evening — this time sparked by anger over provocative “dancing aunties” who have long vexed local residents near the border with China.

In the latest flashpoint with authorities, hundreds of protesters blocked roads and chanted slogans at police in the northwestern district of Tuen Mun, an AFP reporter on the scene said.

Hong Kong has been rocked by a month of huge peaceful protests as well as a series of separate violent confrontations with police sparked by a law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. Those confrontations continued last night as anti-extradition protesters filled Mong Kok and clashed with riot police.

Saturday’s rally had a much more local cause, but feeds into Hongkongers’ anxieties that the city’s unique freedoms and culture are being eroded by a resurgent Beijing.

A rally was held earlier in the day to “reclaim” a park in Tuen Mun where so-called “dancing aunties,” or “damas,” have sung Mandarin pop songs through loud microphones and danced for generally older men who give them cash donations.

The predominant language in Hong Kong is Cantonese and locals say authorities have failed for years to tackle noise complaints caused by the performers. Even politicians have taken notice of the mounting frustrations, with lawmakers in April calling for heftier fines for the so-called noise pollution, RTHK reported.

The director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Michelle Li, said at the time that while the department would explore ways to control the singers, it was a tricky move in terms of enforcement, at it isn’t illegal for people to tip singers in public places.

Protesters said police briefly deployed pepper spray as they tried to protect a man who had earlier attacked demonstrators, sparking anger from the crowds.

Police also briefly scuffled with protesters as officers retrieved another man who had been surrounded by the crowd and was being ordered to delete pictures on his phone.

“Protesters were angry about the police officers being quite biased and were protecting our attackers,” one demonstrator, who declined to give his name, told AFP.

The arrival of police yesterday to try and move protesters on sent tensions higher as the crowds refused to move and shouted “Add oil!” — a Cantonese phrase expressing encouragement.

The SCMP reported that one dama was forced to hide in a public bathroom for hours under police guard as protesters gathered outside. She was later escorted away by dozens of officers.

Protesters were heard chanting, “Reclaim Tuen Mun, give me a quiet park!” and, “Support the police’s fight against prostitution!”

Around 6pm, demonstrators took the protest to the Tuen Mun Police Station, blocking the road there for some three hours before ultimately dispersing.

 

NOTE: This story has been updated to include additional information about Saturday’s protest.

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