Thai Night 2008 draws over 200 for food, dance

Christina Chaey

More than 200 people experienced the music and dance of the traditional Thai countryside at the 13th annual Thai Night 2008 on Friday night at Ryan Family Auditorium. Hosted by the Northwestern Thai Club, the event differed from previous years by showing students a slice of life outside the urban scene of cities such as Bangkok.

Every year, Thai Night features a short love story in the form of a performance. This year’s show centered around “The Field of Love,” an adaptation of the contemporary Thai musical comedy “Monrak Luk Thung.” The story follows a poor farmer who falls in love with a girl from a wealthy family.

The show incorporated classic Thai music, dancing and kick-boxing, all of which were performed by members of the Thai Club, the Thai Cultural and Fine Arts Institute of Chicago, and Wat Dhammaram, a Thai Buddhist temple in Chicago.

“We wanted to show the NU community and the Evanston community Thai culture by incorporating it into the play,” said McCormick sophomore Pear Uttarapatriyakul, one of the co-presidents of the Thai Club. “It’s entertaining as well as educating.”

During one of the musical numbers, a slide show of famous buildings and monuments in Thailand was shown on a large projection screen.

“I think it’s very Thai,” said Weinberg freshman Mengyi Jiang. “It’s about relaxing, enjoying life and having fun.”

After the show, students could purchase all-you-can-eat Pad Thai, green curry and other traditional Thai foods from local restaurants for $5.

In the past, the Thai Club focused on traditional aspects of Thai culture from more than 100 years ago, Uttarapatriyakul said. This year, the group wanted to showcase more contemporary Thai culture.

“We wanted to make it more colorful by showing (students) about the countryside and how they live their lives, which hasn’t been portrayed as much in previous years,” she said. “This is how people live their lives in the countryside.”

Attendance at this year’s show was a vast improvement from last year’s, though the group is still looking for a bigger audience, Uttarapatriyakul said.

“We tried to keep it fun this year so that people enjoy it,” she said.

“We practiced a lot, we put a lot of energy into it, and we worked really hard to get our transitions smooth, so that’s what I’m pleased about,” McCormick sophomore Chon Klomjit said.

The Thai Club tries to attract people who may not necessarily be Thai, but are still interested in the culture, Uttarapatriyakul said.

“This year we got more foreigners to join and be a part of Thai Night,” she said.

SESP junior Kelly Kirkpatrick joined the group at the start of Spring Quarter after returning from a study abroad program in Thailand.

“I wanted to find a way to stay connected to the culture,” Kirkpatrick said. “Seeing all sorts of people (at Thai Night) was really fun.”

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