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Dancing in Their Light

A Daughter's Unfinished Memoir
by Debbie Chinn

$30, Softcover, 6x9 inches, 294 pages
172 black & white and color photos

ISBN: 978-0-578-35599-3

Published in March, 2022
by Strange Fate Publishing
San Francisco, California

Book design and production
by Lucky Valley Press
Jacksonville, Oregon
www.luckyvalleypress.com

Distributed worldwide by Ingram
Returnable by retailers

To contact the author, please visit: www.debbiechinn.com


View or download a one-page promo pdf.



 

Dancing in Their Light

A Daughter's Unfinished Memoir

by Debbie Chinn

"Growing up in a restaurant and nightclub, selling cigarettes at the age of three, working as a bartender's helper at the age of six, and spending my weekends performing during my teenage years are naturally good fodder for a memoir. There aren't many people whose childhood included learning how to walk on fire..."

Debbie Chinn begins this colorful memoir by tracing her roots back to China. In the 19th Century a Southern Baptist missionary by happenstance started her family. Horrors of war, the Japanese occupation of China, the brutalities of starvation and poverty, and the Communist takeover of China in 1949 forced her family to flee their homeland, becoming immigrants in the United States.

They brought with them their specialized skills, connections, and a spirit of invention, all of which greatly contributed to this country's economic growth and reputation in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, nursing, research, aerospace, higher education, cultural diplomacy, and artistic heritage during the 20th Century. The broad influences of their achievements are now international in scope and still utilized today.

Debbie's parents were pioneers in the Chinese restaurant and nightclub industry, therefore a commanding portion of this book is a prime seat to transport the reader back to the bygone era of fine restaurant dining and when Polynesian nightclubs were ubiquitous during the 1960s and 1970s.

Growing up in this environment, the author was a gawky teenager by day and a performer by night. Her childhood world was a restaurant playground encircled by an endless stream of food and liquor, nightclub entertainers, politicians, Catholic priests, Hollywood and Broadway celebrities, barflys, gamblers, sports icons, and the mob.

Dancing in Their Light is a colorful compilation of inspiring and unfathomable stories woven together by humor, pathos, confluences of fate, and the eternal guiding hands of her ancestors.


Dennis BrittenThe proud daughter of Chinese immigrants, Debbie Chinn was born and raised on Long Island, New York. While other children participated in sleep-overs, summer camps, and sports activities, Debbie's childhood was spent at The House of Mah Jong, her family's Chinese restaurant where she entered the workforce at the age of three. Her first job was selling cigarettes. By the age of six, her responsibilities expanded and she spent time on a bar stool inserting umbrellas into cherries and pineapple slices for an assortment of exotic drinks.

The family business grew in popularity and fame, and Mah Jong evolved into a Polynesian nightclub, a ubiquitous dining experiences in the 60s and 70s. As a teenager, Debbie became a regular in the show, performing at night while attending middle and high school by day.

In their quest to assimilate in the United States, her parents abided by the value of strong work ethics, fanatical hospitality, the importance of building and maintaining relationships, supporting organizations who do good work in our communities, and always taking care of others — a family ethos that is known today as philanthropy.

Inspired by her Mah Jong upbringing, Debbie established a distinguished 30 year career as an arts activist, non-profit consultant, and CEO — leading some of the country's most renowned cultural institutions and their programs. She has long championed equity and inclusion, and she has an insatiable appetite for forging bridges via the arts, humanities, and cultural heritage.

Debbie currently serves on a variety of non-profit boards providing advice on governance, finance, fundraising, marketing, strategic planning, artistic programming, and board/staff relations.

She lives in Northern California with her two cats, Kona and Leilani, surrounded by her collection of 100+ bottles of wine.