Art Of The Mix

On Alec’s previous visits here, failing to take him to a performance at the Esplanade was my most glaring omission out of many, but I finally remedied that on Friday. The SSO was doing Beethoven’s 6th, Schubert’s 2nd, and Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave from The Hebrides, and for the princely sum of $21.75 (that’s total, not each), we enjoyed sound so divine from the third circle that even a sub-par SSO sounded great.

[I don’t mean the SSO is generally a sub-par orchestra, I just mean they weren’t really on fire on Friday. There were little timing hiccups here and there; perhaps they didn’t gel with the guest conductor as well as they normally do with Lan Shui. Some harshness in the violins, and I think there was one clarinet screwup. Also the Allegro ma non troppo which starts the Beethoven felt a little too non troppo for my liking, but perhaps I was just too impatient to get to the rollicking third movement.]

My Esplanade bliss is nothing new, but being able to share the place that makes me happiest in Singapore with the person who makes me happiest in Singapore was rather lovely.

* * *

Chinese New Year reunion dinner on Sunday at Chef Kang’s Canton Wok confirmed the fact that not only my mother but my entire extended family seems determined to make my boyfriend fat by forcing multiple servings of everything on him.

I’m not convinced that Canton Wok is “the best cze char in Singapore” as the newspaper articles claim, because I don’t think I saw it at its best on Sunday night. I didn’t have a problem with the ambience – eating on a cramped walkway in the depths of a Hougang HDB estate (a public housing estate) is fine by me – but the service was pretty poor. We waited for more than half an hour to be seated despite having made a reservation far in advance. When the first dish arrived we had plates but no chopsticks or spoons to eat with, cue exaggerated pawing motions at red wine chicken until the staff got the hint. Neither moist towelettes nor lemon water accompanied the crab, so anyone who wanted the rest of their meal to be non-sticky had to venture inside in search of a rather grotty basin.

Food-wise, some dishes were great (red wine chicken, crab with glutinous rice, coffee pork ribs, abalone and spinach), and others were pleasant but forgettable (steamed motherfucking big cod, those brown noodles which I think are called yu fu noodles). I’d like to go back there again to try dishes which were featured in the food reviews and looked really interesting, but weren’t on the festive set menu. But anyway, Alec wasn’t complaining. His mouth was too full.

* * *

And now Saturday. Toxic Jungle Saturday.

The party started off quite normal. True, the birthday boy had chosen to interpret the theme (The Beast Within) by wearing a snake in his crotch, but apart from that everything was fairly civilized.

Jacob and his snake
Jacob’s trouser snake

I hadn’t bothered to tell people other than East-dwellers about the party, but was pleasantly surprised when Kelly and Patrick decided it sounded like an interesting change from Zouk and came along. Karen, who I’d never met, turned up too, en route to Thumper with Ken. Then Ida and David. Then Mayee and Shao and Hwee Yee and Evan.

Since I’ve never been much of a “Circulate, darling!” type, this would have been more than enough people to keep me happily and drunkenly and uneventfully chatting the night away. But Jacob had other plans. Soon after twelve he unveiled karaoke hour, as well as the girls he’d hired to be back-up dancers for the karaokers.

I think the plan had been for karaokers to stand on the small stage in the middle of the bar while singing their songs, and for the girls to then do their thang around the singer. Unfortunately, a problem soon emerged – people were singing soppy ballads instead of songs conducive to girls shaking boo-tay in knee-high stiletto boots. I was equally complicit in this bloody waste, having put my name down earlier for Nothing Compares To You. The girls managed some lesbian slow-dance action to this, but it still wasn’t playing to their real strengths, and I felt guilty.

So when Jacob came round again saying they needed more songs to finish up the karaoke hour, I decided to revisit Toxic. I had expected to sing the song comfortably from my seat, while watching the girls shake boo-tay on stage. But the girls had other plans, and I didn’t feel like forcefully resisting two girls wearing little more than knee-high stiletto boots and little strips of cloth covering their naughty bits. Who knows what may have given way in the course of a struggle.

Forgive me, Britney, for I have sinned

I certainly don’t think of myself as an exhibitionist (at least insofar as anyone who keeps a blog can be said to not be an exhibitionist), but I like to be a good sport. Frankly I’d do it again. The girls were great.

The party went on for a couple of hours more after that. I had fun comparing childhood objects of lust with Mayee and Shao. Got beaten at pool by Alec, fuck! Continued on to Jacob’s place after the bar closed for a prata and champagne supper. Then finally staggered home.

I like weekends.

The Black Forest Of Katong

There I was, standing awkwardly outside Katong Mall at 11 pm on Boxing Day, having just been told by the mall security guard and the 7-11 staff that they were absolutely sure there was no Black Forest Bar in the basement, and in fact that the entire building was closed.

At this point I was sorely tempted to go home, since the wisdom of scouring the dodgy bars of Katong (basically, that would be all the bars of Katong, and there are lots of them) in search of a random ang moh I only knew on the Internet seemed debatable to say the least. Also, the ah peks in the coffee shop across the road were giving me curious glances, even though I was dressed quite conservatively because of a party I’d attended earlier. Also, I had a geography teacher in school who we used to call Black Forest for puerile reasons (it wasn’t racial), and the words still make me giggle.

So there I was. And then suddenly, I spotted a sheet of paper stuck to a wall, with Black Forest Bar and a down arrow scribbled on it, and a little stick figure turntablist. I followed the arrow into the bowels of the building, and when I heard Dizzee Rascal in the distance I knew I’d finally found the right place.

I was a little shy, because it’s always weird meeting an Internet person in real life, and I didn’t drink enough to really reduce my inhibitions either. This was, however, a good thing when Jacob played The Knife’s Heartbeats, because that always makes me imagine thrashing around in suffocating black velvet. Anyway, Jacob and his friends were a lot of fun. I wasn’t just impressed by his record-playing choices, but also his karaoke choices, which included Lemon Tree and It’s A Small World After All. This is clearly an ang moh who truly understands the joy of karaoke.

I’ve never sung karaoke in a bar area, just the tacky faux-opulent private rooms in lounges, but I wasn’t spared. After telling J my number one song for the year was Toxic, I later found it cued up on the karaoke system and the mike thrust into my hand. I did my best but without the air stewardess uniform I felt like a phony. I followed this by mauling half of An Jing with my speech-defect-quality Chinese, and belting out All Out Of Love with Joe Ng. The thought crossed my mind at some point that I was singing karaoke with a voice that had been played on John Peel. My geekiness deepens by the day.

Oh, and Black Forest Bar is unbelievable. It has a pond with actual fish in it, and fake greenery everywhere, and it’s almost completely empty. Alec, the next time you come here I’ve got another so-shit-it’s-lovely bar to take you to!