This past weekend, Singapore has been under some sort of magic spell.
Singaporeans – thousands and thousands of them – took to the streets and literally enjoyed themselves. They danced, they drank out in the open with their friends and loved ones, they laughed and they cried, and they fell in love with the splendour and serendipity all around them.
The spell, as it were… was the Singapore Night Festival, which for two weekends (four nights), transformed the Bras Basah.Bugis precinct (Singapore’s arts, heritage and design precinct) into a kind of (blank) canvas, on which were “painted” a wild array of fantastic light installations and aerial performance.
There were Inuits on the facades of a museum building; gigantic birds perched in an ancient banyan tree; a riotous, psychedelic light installation that wreaked havoc with kids’ minds at a design centre; an outdoor jazz-performance that transplanted a street to somewhere in New Orleans, and a carousel of doll-like sprites suspended dozens of feet in the air, cascading feathers, confetti and goodwill over gasping bystanders (and looking like a surreal, giant, floating jellyfish).
I had to think to myself as all this happened – was I really in Singapore??
What happened to the perception that Singapore was staid and boring, soul-less and uncreative? What happened to all those preconceived notions of Singaporeans being harried, lacklustre and unable to have fun? Aren’t we supposed to be a nation unable to appreciate beauty and the finer things in life?
WRONG. As it turns out, Singapore and Singaporeans are none of those things.
I thought the HIGHLIGHT of the Singapore Night Festival was neither the psychedelic light installations, nor the Inuits, nor the airborne feather-flinging sprites. Don’t get me wrong. I have to qualify that these were all absolutely amazing in a blow-your-mind or damn-this-is-way-kewl sort of way.
But I must confess that for me, the ABSOLUTE MAIN EVENT was the SINGAPOREANS THEMSELVES (myself included), who for four nights, gamely participated as the ensemble cast in a wondrous, magical music-box of a mega street performance.
[SCENE ONE: Night. Festival. Singapore. Thousands of people enjoying themselves.]
The most enjoyable part of the entire Night Festival experience for me was observing and being one amongst the thousands and thousands of Singaporeans who were dancing, laughing and generally having a ball of a time – without abandon or inhibition.
THAT to me, speaks more about the spirit of a city than anything else. And I can safely conclude that Singapore has SPIRIT.
Hurrah to the Singapore Night Festival! And hurrah to my fellow Singaporeans! To more fun, laughter, magic, abandon and dancing in the (closed) streets!!