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!


  1. Came across your blog and was wondering if you are an ex-KCian.

    Because I seem to recall a certain Mrs **** having the same nickname.

    Apologies if you are not. There were quite a few Michelles in my batch.

  2. Hi Desiree, I’m from the same KC batch as you. :) Hope you don’t mind, but I’ve asterisked out the teacher’s name because it’s one of those things that no one else needs to know apart from KC girls, who will know who it is instantly anyway!

  3. I’ve a bit of a hangover this morning and I’m feeling juvenile. Anyone else remember former teachers with amusing nick names. I remember a priest and civics teacher who was known as “piss pot”. Thankfully I was never told the origins of the nick name.

  4. It’s good to know. :)

    Nice blog, Michelle. It is amazing how the Internet brings us back the past. It seems like yesterday that the Black Forest was teaching us.

  5. We never managed anything other than gratuitous insults of personal appearance at my comp.

    One teacher was “torpedo tits”.

  6. Black Forest was a gratuituous insult of personal appearance, or personal grooming to be exact.

  7. You know, I think your teacher runs a sotong stall at Newton now. We call her “Robert Smith Auntie”.

    (Unless it’s a more, er, personal kind of ‘Black Forest’)

    And cheers for the big up! Was great to meet you…

  8. Laces: A more personal kind of Black Forest. Perhaps she was a closet feminist. Or French.

    Does Robert Smith Auntie do good sotong? Is it barbecued or grilled or samballed? Marinated with black eyeliner?

  9. I like mine grilled in plain butter sauce with sambal on the side…

    But mostly the advantage of Robert Smith Auntie is that she wanders around the tables so you don’t have to get up from your seat, is easy to spot due to the hairstyle, and she carries on serving sotong at all hours.

    And I think that her sotong has a particular kind of melodic melancholy flavour…

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