What a weird night. At around 11pm, Karen suggested a night out and we gathered a couple of people from the hostel and the bar next door. We got a free taxi as the chap gets a lot of custom from the hostel and Orchard Road was on his way home. Nice of him.
Stop one – Hard Rock Cafe. This is only the third of these I’ve ever been in, as far as I can recall. Edinburgh and Birmingham being the only other two. This one has less memorabilia, and is also quite small from what I saw. Still, it’s nice to say I’ve been. As with every Monday, apparently, they had stand-up from one of Singapore’s most famous cross-dressers, Kumar.
Well, we have Julian Clarey, the Aussies have Dame Edna, Singapore has Kumar. I needed Karen’s translations as Kumar did his/her set in a combination of heavily accented English, Singlish and Malay often mixing small bits of conversation in all three. The audience loved it, and as I think is true with comedy the world over, you can learn a lot about the locals from it.
Kumar’s humour would be classes as incredibly racist in the UK and would likely result in him being banned from everywhere, and followed by a bunch of do-gooders trying to ban him/her from performing in their towns. The thing is, Singaporeans have what is known as a “sense of humour” and realise it’s all a joke. This includes the Chinese who make up the vast majority of the population here and who were the butt of most of the jokes.
I won’t go into the price of the drinks as I don’t know how much they were. Thanks to Karen for buying a huge jug of Long Island Iced Tea for everyone to share!
After Kumar finished, we walked over the road to Orchard Towers – also known locally as “Four Floors of Whores” and with very good reason. Women (or at least, they look like women) outnumber men roughly eight to one in the clubs here. Essentially, it’s a slightly more upmarket way for them to tout for business than to walk the streets. I pretty much clung to Karen all evening…
We went to a club called Ipanema which had a live band and DJ – and no cover charge. Again, thanks to Karen for getting the beer in. Generous lady! The band were fantastic, doing material from bands as diverse as Pink Floyd, Evenescence, Pink, RHCP… The guitarist was astoundingly good and both singers (one male, one female) were astounding. The drummer even played flute as well.
Part of the fun was watching the “ladies of the night” with their customers. While facing them they were all smiles and giggles, when faced away they looked like they just wanted to go home. Alone.
The club emptied around 4am when the band finished their last set, although it didn’t close until 5:00. We left then, though, and spotted a photo machine opposite. One of our party was in desparate need of a passport photo for a work permit by 9am, so he jumped in.
Five minutes later we located the plug and managed to switch it on. This helped. Briefly.
Seconds after he dropped his money in, the machine died. Then a lady/boy/? Ripped open the curtain on the machine and proceeded to force him/her/?-self on our helpless compatriot. Of course, we took immediate action. And got our cameras out. Well, you didn’t expect us to help him, did you?
Eventually, he struggled free. He/she/? made a grab for him and he tried to lift his/her/?’s skirt. Very big mistake. I’ve read that one of the Thai kickboxing champions had “the op” a couple of years ago, and the way this individual lashed out, I have a feeling we’d just encountered her… An impressive roundhouse and a kick to the back.
At this point we did the think every journalist in the UK is trained to do – made our excuses and left.
Two taxis took us to an outdoor hawker centre where we sat and chilled (if that’s the right word in the 20-degree-plus heat of early morning) and drank beer. Well, I drank beer as I wasn’t hungry. Everyone else had food. As ever, it was a mixed group and I finally got to find out where some of the people were from. Malaysia, Nepal, the US, India, Singapore… All sat around drunk at 5:30am talking about a dodgy comedian and ladyboys.