A bit of a side interest in the wide variety of rituals surrounding death led me to a documentary I think I have to watch. In “Dancing for the Dead: Funeral strippers in Taiwan” Marc L. Moskowitz, an anthropology professor at the University of South Carolina, documents the phenomena known as “funeral stripping.” The idea of hiring strippers to help send off the dead was new to me. I can’t quite imagine it except at something like a wake on the TV show The Sopranos. Funeral stripping is pretty much what it sounds like. Scantily clad dancers gyrate around poles, flashing lights and blaring pop music — often on the back of what they call “electric flower cars,” which are part of the funeral procession.
From a description of the documentary: “Funeral strippers work on Electric Flower Cars (EFC) which are trucks that have been converted to moving stages so that women can perform as the vehicles follow along with funerals or religious processions. EFC came to Taiwan’s public attention in 1980 when newspapers began covering the phenomenon of stripping at funerals. There is a great deal of debate about whether this should be allowed to continue. In Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, one often hears middle and upper class men complain about the harmful effects of this rural practice on public morality. In contrast, people in the industry see themselves as talented performers and fans of the practice say that it makes events more exciting. Dancing for the Dead follows this story, interviewing Taiwan’s academics, government officials, and people working in the EFC industry to try to make sense of this phenomenon. The film includes footage from nine different cities across Taiwan, including EFC performances, a funeral, and several religious events.”
A trailer for the documentary follows this post. I guess I shouldn’t have to stay that a documentary about strippers may not be safe for workplace viewing but I will. NSFW, though of course that depends on your workplace. I always find that expression a bit odd. I mean strippers have jobs and this documentary trailer would be pretty tame by those workplace standards.
Other blog posts on funeral strippers:
The Closure Blog, http://www.nancyberns.com/funeral-strippers.html
Life Detox with a Pack of Cigarettes and Swear Words, “Funerals are Fun!!”
Funeral strippers in Taiwan: There is evidence that the practice dates back to the 1800s, so why do people suddenly have a problem with it? Emily Lodish