Penn Lions was founded in 2007 during Lunar New Year when one of the founding members, Henry Chow, realized that such an integral art and tradition was missing from a campus that had such a large Asian population. The idea first began during CSA’s Lunar New Year celebration when Henry Chow and Alan Hsu put together a makeshift lion dance in two weeks – Alan later chose to pursue med school.  Starting a lion dance troupe was no easy task. Henry had a difficult time trying to convince people to join a non-existent dance troupe specializing in a dance that he didn’t know how to dance. A lot research was done on troupes at other schools and a mission statement was drafted: to learn, demonstrate, and teach the traditional art of lion dance. After reading all the information on reserving space, noise restrictions, and aquiring funding, recruitment became the main focus.

In the following fall, Henry met Winston Ma during the activities fair. Winston had about ten years of lion dancing experience and could lift some of the burden from Henry who had been consulting Youtube to learn the art. Winston would help teach the rest of the troupe the fundamentals, and soon enough the troupe started to form. The first class of members included Henry Chow (‘10), Derek Ma (‘10), Carlin Yuen (‘10), Philip Hsiao (‘11), Winston Ma (‘11),  Samantha Ni (‘11), and Michael Zhao (‘11). They practiced all over campus, from McClelland South Lounge to ARCH 314 while moving equipment to and from dorm rooms. Penn Lions made its official debut on February 7, 2008 at the Lunar New Year Celebration in Harnwell’s Rooftop Lounge.

Following the performance, Penn Lions had about ten more that semester. Four years later, Penn Lions has had over 30 lion dancers and 70 performances. In the spring of 2010, Penn Lions won the Ivy League Champion title at the East Coast Intercollegiate Lion Dance Competition held at Columbia University. In 2012, Penn Lions organized the second annual east coast intercollegiate lions dance competition and hosted seven different troupes. Other past performances include performances for Philadelphia’s Mayor Nutter, Delaware Senators, US ambassadors, US Men’s national soccer team, CCTV, NBC, ABC, weddings, and numerous nonprofit organizations.