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Monday, July 11, 2011

Putting The Fun In Funerals

And here I thought it was during the wake where people were expected to whoop it up. Silly me.

From the Daily Mail: Ashes To Flashes: The Funeral Strippers Who Dance To Honour The Dead
They bring new meaning to the phrase Drop Dead Gorgeous - as the strippers who dance for the deceased at funerals.

For a modest fee the scantily-clad women arrive on the neon-lit back of a diesel truck, dubbed an Electric Flower Car, to erotically gyrate in front of the departed and his mourners.

The Taiwanese phenomenon is labelled by some as scandalous, but many hail it as an important part of the grieving process - and the perfect way of sending off their loved ones with a smile.

The authorities are trying to crack down on the mainly rural practice documented by anthropologist Marc L Moskowitz in his new film 'Dancing for the Dead: Funeral Strippers in Taiwan'.


During his research, Moskowitz said he heard several explanations as to why people hired them for funerals.

Some said it was because new ghosts get picked on by older ghosts so the performance was to distract the older ones to let the newer ones get used to his environment.

Others said the lower gods, usually ghosts of real people who were deified because people worshiped them, liked the entertainment so it was for them.

A third theory said that they were employed because the deceased enjoyed watching strippers when alive.

And a final reason was the more people who attended the funeral then the more honour was given to the deceased - and so the strippers were used to 'bribe' mourners to turn up.
(n.b. - there are a couple videos and photos at the Daily Mail site. I've chosen not to show them here for obvious reasons.)

I'll go with Reason #5 - just another way to make money.

Now, I'll admit - perhaps part of the 'Dancing for the Dead' events contain a cultural component. So the 'old ghosts' vs 'young ghosts' seems valid enough, despite it being a non-Christian belief. Chinese funeral customs are ancient, and I'm kinda clueless on their meanings and such - but pole dancing? I have to believe that's a rather modern innovation tacked onto a venerable heritage.

And will the "Stripped-down Funeral" catch on in the U.S.?

Give it time.