Uncle After Hours (Bridge Cafe Project, Singapore Arts Festival)

Uncles breaking out into song and dance in an ice cream café? The Bridge Café Project in the Singapore Arts Festival Village is one of those concepts that had me from hello. We dropped by on Saturday evening for dessert and some new dance moves for Alec, and were as charmed as we had expected to be. But I didn’t write this entry to tell you about the experience the ArtsFest intended us to have, but rather the unexpected delight that we happened to encounter later on – a collateral benefit, you could call it – when art left the Festival Village and seeped into life.

You should visit the Bridge Café Project yourself to enjoy the full 3D uncle experience, but if you can’t, there’s a video here. In case it isn’t already clear from the video, the appeal of the experience doesn’t lie in the finesse of their performances but in their unbridled enthusiasm. 

Dancing Bridge Cafe Project Uncles, Singapore Arts Festival

When the uncles aren’t performing, they are exceptionally snazzy café waiters.

Bridge Cafe Project Uncle, Singapore Arts Festival

But wait, you say – this entry wasn’t supposed to be about the café itself, but about some nebulous arty thing that happened afterwards! Get to it!

This is where I introduce you to my favourite Bridge Café Project uncle.

Bridge Cafe Project Uncle, Singapore Arts Festival

I don’t have any better photos of him because I was using a manual focus Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 58/1.4 lens with my Nex and let’s just say manually focusing on vigorous dancing uncles is not part of my photography skill set yet. But I hope it’s at least clear that he seems lovely.

After our ice cream we strolled through the flea market area of the Festival Village, and Favourite Uncle just happened to be at one of the stalls, playing a woodblock. Because he could, I suppose.

Later, we watched the kickass musicianship of Soumik Datta and Bernhard Schimpelsberger at the main stage, and once that was done we decided it was time to head home. A now-familiar figure stood at the bus stop, presumably on his own way home now that his duties at the café had ended for the night.

I don’t know if he knew I was filming him. While it would be reasonable to assume that anyone who signs up to burst into song and dance every twenty minutes in an ice cream café is unlikely to be a shrinking violet, he was not (here, or in the café) conspicuously extroverted or attention-seeking. He stood at the side of the bus stop facing away from the few other people there, not seeming particularly interested in the world beyond the umbrella and his fingertip. I wanted to tell him I had enjoyed his performance in the café, but because of this slight detachment I sensed from him, and my own shyness, I didn’t.

Our bus came and we got on. Favourite Uncle didn’t. Without wishing him too much of a delay before his bus arrived, I hope a few more people got to experience their own little moments of unlooked-for joy before he headed home for a well-deserved rest.