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grant avenue follies
via AARP

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    The Grant Avenue Follies, a dance troupe of seniors from San Francisco’s Chinatown, kicked off the Lunar New Year with a rap song and music video.

    The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a nonprofit interest group for those over the age of 50, released the music video they funded titled “That Lunar Cheer,” featuring the Grant Avenue Follies and Los Angeles-based rapper Jason Chu, on Saturday.

    The video features four members of the Follies, aged between 61 and 87, as they rap about the celebration’s traditions, including playing mahjong, eating dim sum, giving away red envelopes and wearing red clothing and gold jewelry. 

    “We teamed up with The Follies and Chinese American rapper and activist Jason Chu to celebrate Lunar New Year in unforgettable fashion,” the AARP captioned its post. 

    With firm roots in Black American culture, AARP acknowledges its founders and innovators—especially as hip hop celebrates its 50th year—who have blazed a path for all cultures and generations to appreciate and participate in the rap art form.

    The Follies started with four professional dancers from San Francisco Chinatown’s nightclub culture of the 1950s and ‘60s before it became a full-fledged dancing troupe. 

    The group has been forming in the decades since, playing a major role in entertaining and raising funds for senior citizen groups.

    The grandmothers previously made headlines with a series of rap music videos that tackled social justice issues, including the spike in attacks on Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    “We’ve been through a couple challenging years and we want to wish everybody a happy new year as well as making sure that it will be a peaceful and healthy new year. That is very important to us,” Follies co-founder Cynthia Yee told NPR. “We have customs that have to be followed, such as cleaning the house before New Year’s Day to sweep away all the bad luck and welcome the new.”

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