I was warned that an electronic music festival on my first weekend in Singapore may give me a skewed impression of life here. Singapore isn’t exactly the next Berlin apparently and Garden Beats is just an exception to the accepted rule that SG nightlife is closer to restaurants and bars than 9am ravers. And to be clear, Garden Beats is not Coachella. Also, it’s a ‘no’ to arriving with just a pack of flower garlands in lieu of cash. When you live in the most expensive city in the world, don’t expect a Burning Man barter economy to flourish.
That said. Garden Beats was clearly where all the hippest, coolest and fittest Singaporeans were this Saturday. By ‘fit’, I mean that the majority of girls in bra-lets looked as though they sleep on the elliptical and eat weights for breakfast. By ‘hip’, I realise I sound like my mother describing the 60’s or Anna Wintour describing eyebrows.
Anywahayy, I got the call up to GB by a fellow Singaporean expat and her bunch of UK/Aussie babes who all actually know their way around here. On this basis, I relied on their expertise entirely for the picnic. For a girl who was brought up on squashed honey sandwiches and a snack size packet of hula hoops for her sports day spread (thanks a lot mum), you can sure quickly get used to the M&S three-for-two on the old stuffed bell peppers, beetroot hummus and manchego/prosciutto jobbies. So, good news is, there is an M&S in Singapore, thank goodness; bad news is, it is an extortionate rip off, bull. So again, thanks BE to the girls for knowing what’s what on the picnic produce front. We ended up with a delightful array of sourdoughs, gourmet croissants, dips and immaculately imported strawberries.
All this food, in the beautiful Fort Canning Park in central Singapore, a pumping tropical house beat in the background and the sunny, 35 degree heat, all equals divine. But hold up. 35 degrees? 35 degrees and I’m a girl not a lizard? That’s too hot? Welcome to the downside of my wardrobe choice (technically, a khaki tube top: practically, a dress). Heat and clingy clothes are not symbiotic beasts. But we pushed on and hydrated via G&Ts and, though I was thrilled with how amazingly beautiful the park was and how well they’d dressed it up, it was a vast relief for the sun to finally go down and a sniff of breeze to pick up.
Almost as though by coincidence, when the sun went down, the music picked up and people got fun. One guy didn’t fancy walking round the fence for the drinks queue at all so he just charged and hurdled them until he and they were a crumpled heap on the floor. No one even called the Singaporean alcoholic police on him. Chilled as.
So here are the take away points:
- Singapore doesn’t have too shabby a music scene.
- When the music scene does crop up, everyone will be very hot (both senses).
- Fort Canning Park is delightful and well worth the walk up the hill.
- You can get a better picnic from Singapore than from my mum.
- Don’t be 25 and still wear tops as dresses.
Incidentally, after the festival finished, Singapore proved itself to be even more of a dark horse than expected. En route to Sentosa, we ended up at a warehouse party in some monolithic warehouse space that was extremely warehousey and, crucially, had free flowing vodka redbulls for $10. All in. Clearly a lot of people had seen the Facebook page and assumed there must be an outrageous catch as it wasn’t exactly stuffed full of Singaporean ravers, but by then who’s complaining. And it meant the drinks queue was dreamy. Naturally, Sunday morning I felt like an article from Vice with a headache to match and the daunting prospect of a bottomless champagne brunch in Marina Bay Sands…