Capturing the all-American fervor of parade competition, CHINATOWN 2-STEP profiles the Los Angeles Chinese Drum and Bugle Corps, an important fixture of the Chinese American community.

“…offers a more contemporary look at maintaining urban social ties."

Joshua Glick, Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977
Synopsis: 

The Los Angeles Chinese Drum and Bugle Corps is an important fixture of the Chinese American community — not only serving as its representative in parades and events, but also as an activity bringing the young Chinese American middle class together. CHINATOWN TWO-STEP spotlights the importance of these and other community institutions. One interview subject shocks the viewer as he recounts being turned away from a swimming pool because “Chinese were not allowed”. And for others, exposure and interaction with other Chinese American Angeleno kids was limited. Opportunities for Chinese American kids to socialize with their peers was important for identity formation, but difficult to realize. Thus, formation of the Los Angeles Chinese Drum Corps served to address this situation, providing an essential environment for kids to socialize and form their identities over a common interest. Not only was the Chinese Drum and Bugle Corps an important fixture of the Chinese American community, but also as an activity bringing the young Chinese American middle class together. Capturing the all-American fervor of parade competition, CHINATOWN 2-STEP takes the viewer through the group’s performances and interviews with the Corps’ members and their parents.

Reviews

Director's Commentary: 

What started out as a cine-verite look at a Chinese American marching band became a film essay on the Chinese American middle class. The title of the documentary CHINATOWN TWO-STEP alludes to the movement of generation of poor Chinatown kids who grew up during the Depression to become more economically secure, thoroughly Americanized folk. Becoming middle class professionals meant moving out of Chinatown and to suburbia where there were opportunities for their kids to socialize with other Chinese Americans. Thus, for the children, drum corps provided a pre-mating dance of sorts.

— Excerpted from “LA Chinese Imperial Dragons”, FROM THE VC VAULT, January 27, 2004