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Family, friends cheer on a stoic Brandon Tsay at State of the Union

Inside the Lai Lai Ballroom and Dance studio Tuesday night, the state of the union was uncertain but optimistic.

Huddled beneath the security camera that captured the mayhem when Brandon Tsay disarmed the would-be attacker who had just killed 11 people at their sister studio, Star Dance, staff and relatives at the family run business peered at a TV overhead and watched the packed halls of Congress give Brandon a standing ovation.

Relatives and friends of Brandon Tsay, a guest of honor of President Biden for the State of the Union speech, watch at the family’s Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, where Tsay stopped the Lunar New Year gunman, on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

Relatives and friends of Brandon Tsay, a guest of honor of President Biden for the State of the Union speech, watch at the family’s Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, where Tsay stopped the Lunar New Year gunman, on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

Relatives and friends of Brandon Tsay, a guest of honor of President Biden for the State of the Union speech, watch at the family’s Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, where Tsay stopped the Lunar New Year gunman, on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

Relatives and friends of Brandon Tsay, a guest of honor of President Biden for the State of the Union speech, watch at the family’s Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, where Tsay stopped the Lunar New Year gunman, on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

Relatives and friends of Brandon Tsay, a guest of honor of President Biden for the State of the Union speech, watch at the family’s Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, where Tsay stopped the Lunar New Year gunman, on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

Relatives and friends of Brandon Tsay, a guest of honor of President Biden for the State of the Union speech, watch at the family’s Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, where Tsay stopped the Lunar New Year gunman, on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

Relatives and friends of Brandon Tsay, a guest of honor of President Biden for the State of the Union speech, watch at the family’s Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, where Tsay stopped the Lunar New Year gunman, on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

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His sister Brenda Tsay waited about an hour to hear President Biden acknowledge Brandon and let out a loud applause — all while wrangling kids and greeting dancers, both gliding through the Lai Lai lobby.

Along with his grandmother, Joyce Tsay, and coworkers Nancy Zhu and Zhi Li, Brenda watched as, once again thrust into the spotlight, Brandon stoically if not awkwardly gave a pageant-style wave to the crowd.

“I don’t know how to explain it, he’s a hero but he’s still just my brother,” she said.

In the backdrop of the lobby, instructors give private lessons to young dancers, seemingly unaffected by it all.

Not typically one for politics, Brenda points to dignitaries wearing bold and colorful outfits while trying to catch a glimpse of Brandon during wide shots, and is surprised how much of the speech related to her family.

From Taiwanese chips affecting the economy of her family overseas, to the Ukrainian conflict that has affected at least a dozen of their dancers, to of course, the calls for stricter gun control laws.

The family and its business unexpectedly became a microcosm for the issues facing the nation, and they’re dealing with them in a very American way — continuing on with business as usual, but now with the cameras pointed at them.

Related links

Brandon Tsay, man who stopped Alhambra attack, to be honored at Lunar New Year festival
Biden’s State of the Union speech praises Brandon Tsay’s heroic actions; calls for assault weapons ban
A Monterey Park kung fu school had a safe space at a revered dance studio. Then came the mass shooting
‘It’s going to take some time’: Alhambra’s Lai Lai Ballroom seeks to buoy ‘healing process’ after shooting
Monterey Park leaders weigh permanent memorial, with future of Star Ballroom Dance Studio uncertain

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