Friday 31st October 2014
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Singapore Diary

Our on-line dairy of our 5 week trip to Singapore (updated: 30/07/02).

Christi at the Botanic Gardens Monday 24th June
The Jitterbugs Swingapore studio is based in a modern shopping centre and office complex in the main shopping district of town. They've got one large studio which can be divided into two smaller studios by sliding across a moving partition wall. They run classes 7 days a week in Lindy, Jazz, Funk, Tap, Salsa, Tango, and Pilates.

On Mondays they've also started a new dance night at a club called 'Swing' on Cuppage Street. Sing and Chang Meng teach a free Lindy Class that's followed by a couple of hours of social dancing. We turned up for the social dancing and had a great time. It's a small venue with a tiny space for dancing but that just adds to the friendly intimate atmosphere. Afterwards we joined a few of the dancers for food in a Chinese restaurant just down the terrace.

Durian are big spiky green fruit that stink to high heaven when cut open. However, when eaten they're considered delicious, although we're yet to be convinced!

Christi and Ronald Thursday 27th June
Thursday is the Lindy evening at the studio. There's 4 levels of classes that are all run in 8 week courses. Students can only progress to the next level with the approval of the teachers so the ability of the dancers in each individual level is quite similar. Each class lasts an hour with the classes running in parallel using both studios. After the classes the partition wall is slid back, the lights are dimmed, and there's a couple of hours social dancing before chucking out time. We are teaching the level 3 and 4 classes and joining in the fun afterwards too...

Chendol are little green jelly worms that are very popular in desserts!

Sunday 30th June

The Jitterbugs Swingapore Performance Group rehearses every Sunday. We're teaching them a choreography so we're working with them during our stay. The session lasts 3 hours starting with a rigorous warm up routine.

The young Singaporean women are so enamoured with Dan that they whisk him off for an evening of happysexypassionatecool fun. Christi hasn't heard from him since, and is thinking of becoming a devoted catholic and joining the local nunnery.

Just kidding... After rehearsal we went to a footie party with some of the group to watch the World Cup Final. Various of our hosts had bet on the match which added to the excitement. Afterwards we went out for a fabulous meal including Spicy Sting Ray served on a banana leaf.

Orchid Flower Friday 5th July
The first of the Balboa workshops took place today. Very few of the dancers here in Singapore had heard of Balboa so we started from basics. The intimate nature of Balboa took them a while to get used too since this kind of close hold isn't generally used much by the Lindy dancers here. They relaxed a little once we'd assured them that its not possible to get pregnant while dancing Balboa! Much fun was had by all. We're now looking forward to the second workshop tomorrow.

Today's major culinary discovery was the 'Pork Floss Bun' (yummy yummy). This is an oval shaped bun sprinkled with Pork Floss. I'm not really sure what Pork floss is, but it looks a little like brown candy floss and is presumably made from pork!

Thursday 11th July

Singaporeans are extremely polite - they even put us Brits to shame... For example, when we ask the class to rotate, you can hear in unison the 'thank you' as they leave their first partner and a 'hello' as they greet the next. They also appear to enjoy clapping and seem to break out into applause at regular intervals throughout the class. We hope this is a good sign, and they are not just doing this to wake themselves up.

The hottest new drink in Singapore is Bubble Tea. This is an ice cold drink served in a variety of flavours, with the normal green tea being our favourite. The best part of this experience is the bubbles. These are round beads made out of tapioca that are slightly chewy and add to the fun whenever they get pop into your mouth from the wide straw.

Saturday 13th July

Breakfast with the animals at the Zoo is a must when visiting Singapore. Not only do you get to enjoy being in close proximity to pythons and monkeys, but the breakfast is also buffet style and includes curry, noodles and porridge (which in Asia is another name for rice in broth.) The zoo itself has free ranging animals (besides Dan) and so you can come across a monkey in your path at any time, especially if you are carrying KFC in your bag. Our favourite part of the zoo was the Fragile Rainforest, which is an enclosed area with butterflies floating in all directions, and mouse deer, birds, and bats hiding everywhere you look.

Another example of the kindness of the locals here... After raving about the bubble tea in last week's balboa classes, two girls came to today's shag class with the location of where we could buy bubbles so we can bring them back to the UK - and offering to buy them for us. A third student actually brought us the bubbles and green tea mix - enough for a party when we get back to London!

Fen, who jointly owns Jitterbugs with Sing, turned thirty today and had a big party and barbeque. This was also our first chance to see the newest addition to the Lindy Swingapore family - Jennifer Tachibana, 3 week old daughter of Eric & Li Hsien (who lived in London for a short while.)

Christi eating Chicken feet Tuesday 16th July
Just to show that it really is a small world, particularly within the Lindy Hop community, we happened to bump into Patti Hardwick at Jitterbugs Swingapore. For those Londoners that have been dancing a while, you may remember Patti - an American with very long hair who was in London about 5 years ago. Anyway, she has just been married to Chuen Ming who is living in Singapore and they invited us to their wedding dinner. The dinner was in a Peranakan restaurant - which is a style of food that is particular to Malaysia and Singapore. They served more than 10 dishes, with our favourites being the Kew Piu Tie and the Gula Melaka. At the end of the meal, the wedding couple visited our table for a toast as we yelled YAAAAAM SING at the top of our voices!

Yesterday we tasted chicken's feet, and to our surprise it was delicious.  Okay, it does come looking like the feet of a fowl, and you have to make sure not to eat any bones, but if you can get past that the flavour is well worth it.

Friday 19th July

To our surprise last night, just after dancing Sing's Charleston stroll at the Swing fling, they played the tune 'Funk Soul Brother'. The floor soon was amass with with dancers doing monkeys and swims and all sorts of interesting jazz steps. Apparently, this is a stroll that one of the dancers, Asman, choreographed. It is definitely one to bring back if we can! The regular Thursday dance was yet another success, with the room getting steamy by the end.

Today was conveyor belt sushi day. This particular one put even the San Francisco ones to shame. Christi was especially mesmerised by the variety of raw fish slowly passing by her. Thankfully, we had Jason and Jureen from the studio to help us choose and get us to try the soft shell crab and steamed egg. They also took us for sweetcorn ice cream served on brightly coloured bread by a street vendor. Probably not something that will catch on back home, but we enjoyed it all the same.

Sunday 21st July

In Chinese culture, when babies are born there's traditionally a confinement period of one month for both the mother and baby. During this time, the mother is fed many traditional dishes that ensures their good health and well being. They are also assigned a confinement nurse who does all the cooking and cleaning. After one month, there is a party for friends and family to meet the baby. This morning we went to the one month celebration for Eric and Li Hsien's daughter Jennifer. We met the whole family, and found it particularly interesting chatting with Hsien's father who helped enlighten us with various Chinese customs.

Today we also had our last session with the Jitterbugs Swingapore performance group. The piece we've been teaching them is a complex choreography but they managed to put the whole thing together in today's session. They've got to the stage where the whole piece is starting to really come to life. Its been fun working with them and we wish them well for their debut performance of the new piece.

We went out to eat afterwards with Sharon & Hong Wee, Justin, and Ting Nging (please correct our spelling since our knowledge of Chinese is a little scant). They took us to 'Muthu's Curry' in the 'Little India' part of town. We had a great selection of currys all eaten from a banana leaf. The most spectacular of which was the 'Fish Head Curry' which is a local dish popular with many Singaporeans particularly for the eye and cheeks that are considered delicacies (yum yum).

Those singles amongst you should remember that 'The tree nearest the lake catches the moon first' (confused us said)!

Friday 26th July

Our last week went so quickly - dancing on Monday at Swing on Cuppage, Wednesday at the University where Jitterbugs Swingapore runs weekly classes, and the Swing Fling on Thursday. And when we weren't dancing, we were being taken out for food. For some reason we have developed a reputation for being foodies... We just can't understand why???

To say thanks to everyone for being so nice and welcoming to us, we decided to throw a party. We chose Raffles Hotel, where there is a resident 3-piece swing band every night. The hotel staff moved tables for us so we could have a bit of dancing. About 40 people showed up, and at one point, there were 5 couples doing Balboa!!

Two of the dancers, Jerrine and Jason, stayed up with us until it was time to go to the airport at 4am. They ensured we got our last meal at one of the things we will miss most about Singapore - the 24 hour hawker stalls. It was the perfect way to end our holiday, and made the wee morning hours not so lonely.

When reflecting upon our time in Singapore, we could not have asked for a better 5 weeks. It was an amazing cultural experience, with visits around the island and up into Malaysia - and of course the food was amazing and exotic. However, what made our time in Singapore particularly memorable were the people from Jitterbugs Swingapore: Sing's amazing amount of talent and energy for Lindy Hop, Fen's ability to pick up the Dean Collins Shim Sham faster than anyone I know, Koi Jun's melt your heart smile, Chen Meng's taste in music, Sinclair's funny wail whenever he missed a step, Hong Wee's patience when driving us around the last day, and all those who bought us dinner, bubble tea, food, books, or just spent time with us. We're going to miss everyone and hope that it won't be too long before we are back!

 

Details of our teaching schedule in Singapore can be found at Jitterbugs Swingapore.

 

 

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