A scenario in which a seductively-dressed woman dances around a pole may be typical at some night clubs, but in China and some parts of Asia you could easily stumble upon a similar show during a funeral.
The reason why is hidden in the old saying “Do not cry because it is over, but smile because it happened”. This is apparently the Asians’ point of view when it comes to saying their final “goodbye”. Strippers are often invited to funeral processions so the deceased one can be properly sent off to rest in peace.
The funeral service tends to be very different when strippers are involved. There are dancing poles, and there are often loud audio systems included—as well as professional lighting and even fireworks. The coffin can easily become a dancing spot for the stripper.
The late Spokesman of the Chiayi Country Council—Tung Hsiang—was sent off in such a fashion after his death in 2016. Hsiang’s son arranged for his funeral to be spectacular instead of just a sad procession. The exotic dancers did their thing in the streets, dancing on luxurious vehicles. Some traditional items like drums and totems were included too, and the final result was a true spectacle.
Some of you may find such things unacceptable, but it just a tradition in China and Taiwan—nothing more.
The tradition could be traced back to the end of the 1800s; reportedly, back then women stripped at sacred temples during such events. Things were different in Taiwan—people there used to hire professional wailers to mourn at processions, but when microphones and audio speakers were introduced, the people chose to include music and dances instead of wailing.
The exotic funeral dancers became a trend four decades ago in Taiwan. At that time, the local mobsters took control of the funeral business. Since they owned strip clubs, they decided to offer a discount for the funeral service if the customer decided to hire a stripper. They cleverly advertised the new addition to the funeral options, saying that a stripper would likely attract more people to mourn and would also please all the Gods who were easily pleased by pretty women.
Some of the funeral agents even claimed that the afterlife of the deceased person would depend on the quality of the procession. The combination of death and sex turned out to be a success, and strippers quickly became popular. The popularity of this type of organization is still huge—notably, a stripper troupe could charge a thousand dollars to attend a funeral.
Not everyone likes this type of funeral, and despite the fact it has become widely popular, there are still many people who find such a show to be simply wrong; they consider it to suitable only for the working class.
It is currently illegal for a stripper to completely undress herself at a funeral, but in the past the dancers took everything off, despite the fact that there were children at the procession.
The authorities had attempted to stop this tradition multiple times after they became too extreme in the eastern parts of the country. These attempts were made after photos of such funeral services made it to the media. There were numerous cases in which dancers were reported to remain partially or completely naked, which is against the law in China—and they were later fined. Strippers were even invited to perform at the funeral of a 6-year-old boy.
Another curious case was Mr. Jong’s funeral, who was shown in a National Geographic video saying that he insisted that a hole should be cut into his casket, so he could observe the stripper show from “the other side”.
This type of performance is not terribly popular in Mainland China, but officials are still determined to put an end to it, claiming they are “uncivilized” and that they contribute to the corruption of the established social morals of the country.
Despite the government’s attempts to remove the tradition, these events still take place in some areas of the country, because the relatives of the deceased want to celebrate with them one last time. The Chinese seem to be the type that will not easily give up on their traditions—no matter how odd it may seem to others.