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SAMEAPI Culture Night

From the playing of Taiko drums to hula dancing, there was a variety of performances showcased from all over Asia at the recent South Asian Middle Eastern Asian Pacific Islander (SAMEAPI) Culture Night, which was part of the many events going on in the month of April for SAMEAPI Awareness month at Mills College.

For SAMEAPI Culture Night, the night kicked off with a bang from the playing of Taiko drums by Emeryville Taiko Drumming. Regarded as sacred throughout Japanese history, the drum was first used to drive away evil spirits and harmful pests by imitating the sound of thunder.

This was the first year the group has had all women performing, including Mills biology laboratory Professor, Dr. Elaine Tan.

Susan Horn, the lead drummer of the group, started playing the Taiko drums when she was 35 years old. While living in Japan, she saw a Taiko drum performance and became inspired but never imagined that she would be performing one day.

“Never ever in my wildest imagination would I see myself play Taiko,” Horn said.

After the performance in the student union, the group invited the audience on stage to participate in a mini lesson. Afterwards, some people in the audience asked how to participate in the group. Horn said that they offer beginning classes on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. For more information on them, visit their website at

The second performance of the night was a dance performed by the LIKHA-Pilipino Folk Ensemble. Founded in 1992, LIKHA believes in the power of dance and music to educate the community about the beauty of Philippine culture.

Not only were the performers dancing, but they also balanced candles on their heads and performed contortionist moves, like touching their legs to their head upon which a glass of wine was balanced.

The third performance of the night consisted of Iranian music, which began with instrumental pieces, picking up speed with singing and faster drumming as the performance went on.

Nicole Fox and Bay Area Hula perform hula dancing for the SAMEAPI Culture Night. (Photo by Octavia Sun)
Nicole Fox and Bay Area Hula perform hula dancing for the SAMEAPI Culture Night. (Photo by Octavia Sun)

The last performance of the night was hula dancing by Nicole Fox and Bay Area Hula. They also invited the audience to come up and participate in a hula lesson. Fox taught the audience to gyrate their hips by telling them to pretend they are cracking a coconut open by using their hips. Then she instructed them to say “mango” when their hips are pointed in the opposite direction and “pineapple” when their hips were pointed back.

The two co-presidents of Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance (APISA), Seniors Jennifer Thao and Phuong Tseng, and APISA Advisor, biology Professor Dr. Jared Young, did a lot of planning to put the SAMEAPI Culture Night together.

“We have been planning since the beginning of this semester,” Tseng said. “It took about two months to get the performers.”

For more information about the events going on in SAMEAPI Awareness Now!, visit the website at:

All of the events are co-sponsored by APISA, the Muslim Student Alliance (MSA), Mills Ohana Club, the ethnic studies department, French and francophone studies department, Diversity and Social Justice Resource Center (DSJRC), and Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC).