Kampong Gelam, a living heritage by day and an explosive nightspot by dark. More frequently gv accessed by our Muslim community in Singapore, I decided to change up my habits and explore the area. Under the brightly illuminated moon and glittering stars, I noticed the excitement at the end of Baghdad Street. Curious, I followed the crowd to the road between Kampong Gelam Cafe and the famous ‘Sarbat Stall’ near Bussorah Street.
At that moment, I noticed how I instantly became the minority instead of the majority. However, I was more amazed by the array of food on the tables to be troubled by that. As the mixture of various scents and sounds engulfed me, a gentle breeze kissed my cheeks urging me to move forward. Soon, I arrived in the middle of the streets where a set up for an upcoming display could be seen. My inquisitive nature tinkles and I plotted myself amongst the multicultural audience. At that moment, the production started.
Hosted by the Malay Heritage Centre, Neighbourhood Sketches was a dance performance presented by the dance group of NTU and NIE. In celebration of Women Success, this performance focused on the distinct actions and culture of The Malay Lady. Despite having Malay friends, I realised that my mind draws to a blank when it comes to the Muslim culture. How dare I say I lived in a multi-cultural society when I do not know the first thing about my neighbour’s customs. Determined to learn, I shifted my focus to the performance. Soon, I found myself enthralled by the display in front of me.
The dancers moved gracefully under the orange streetlights, limbs in constant and precise motions. Highlighting the traditional straw hats, Terendak, as the focal point, they painted a picture sound alone could not achieve. Their bare feet swiftly cut the air, mesmerising the audience. At the corner of my eyes, I noticed how in that instance everyone became one. Regardless of their background, social economic status or race, this encounter truly draws everybody together. After the dance performance, the programme moved to a fun culture lesson, beneficial for all.
Before I knew it, it was time for the programme to end. I closed my eyes tightly as I try to retain as much of these emotions as possible. The exact emotions that got me returning to Kampong Gelam over and over again.
Written By : Shi Hui