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An Early Glimpse of an Electric Flower Car 電子花車

Electric Flower Cars 電子花車 are a unique feature of Taiwanese culture. These neon-lit mobile stages can be found near temples and at funerals, particularly in the rural south. Variety performers sing, dance, and sometimes even strip for the entertainment of gods and ghosts alike.

I had a premonition that I would see an electric flower car today or tomorrow. It is the goddess Mazu’s birthday—the culmination of weeks of riotous celebrations all across Taiwan. Firecrackers have been going off every night since I moved to Tainan 台南 last week and I caught a bit of Taiwanese opera (or something similar) after finishing up at a cafe on the weekend.

Tonight, after finishing up at that same cafe, I headed out in the direction of Dadong Night Market. Along the way I heard music echoing through the back streets along Jinhua Road and went to investigate. And there it was: an electric flower car in full bloom.

I stayed for a little while to watch the show. Evidently it had just begun—the crowd swelled noticeably as passing motorists stopped in the intersection to enjoy the spectacle. The woman in the photo above changed her costume at one point, returning to the stage in a skimpy purple bikini. The old men up front clapped and howled enthusiastically.

After a few songs a technician jumped on stage to install a free-standing pole. A door on stage opened and another woman emerged, this one in cut-off jeans. She started to pole dance, flipping her hair back and forth, before walking down to street level to shake hands with various dumbstruck motorists.

It was an entertaining sight all right, though not one that I hadn’t seen before. My belly rumbled and I took to the streets again, grinning stupidly.

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