Cramping My Merlion Style



The Street Dance Culture in Singapore. A dissection. Just a bunch of research, reflections and issues!

Street dance is the term used to describe vernacular dances in an urban context. Vernacular dances are often improvisational [ Freestyle] and social in nature, encouraging interaction and contact with spectators and other dancers. While many associate street dance culture with the Hip Hop Scene , street dance culture consists of a mix of other dance genres such as Popping ,Locking , House and Waacking. Though it is notably true that it was through Hip Hop that Street dancing was popularized.

But before we can dissect the issues of Street dance Culture in Singapore, we must first understand its history and the stories behind its birth. Below is a documentary of the beginnings of Hip Hop and how it has changed over the years.

Hip Hop was a revolution and a peaceful one at that. Here’s another link on the history of Hip Hop , and the evolution of the street dance culture!


So as seen in the documentaries above , the essence of street dancing is not just a form of art but its more cultural than anything. For the OGs [Original Gangsters – A term for the first generation or people of a particular style or gang] the Hip Hop culture saved them from the violence and destruction that was common for the people in the Bronx. So one can only imagine how significant and important it was for the people living there during the 1980s. Afrika Bambata , turned from being a notorious gangster to being the founding father of Hip Hop , a culture that stood for peace , Love , Unity and Having Fun through the means of four forms of self expression. Also Commonly known as the four Pillars of Hip Hop.

These are Graffiti , B-boying [Dance] , Rap and DJ. These forms of expression enable the artist to express themselves though different mediums .

Visual aesthetics was expressed through Graffiti.

Body awareness and movement was expressed through dance.

Poetry ,philosophy, language and thought was expressed through Rap.

And lastly , rhythm and music was expressed through DJ.

All these allowed anybody to “fight” with each other without the violence. Thus, it is so, that Hip hop was as much way of life and a way out of violence back then. For some, especially the OGs who are still alive , it is Still so.



Jump forward 20 -30 years and Hip Hop has taken over the world. Different cultures have uniquely adopted Hip Hop and evolved it into something they can own. [ie. Street dance culture in Korea is very different to the street dance culture in LA. Just google it.] However, the key essence of the culture still remains the same throughout, social in nature, encouraging interaction and contact.

Through dance we express and focus on the voice we wants to bring out. Should one be into the Hip Hop culture, they will realize the need to have a backbone when it comes to an opinion or truth, is essentially crucial.

If you are a Lioncity kid, You’ll have an inkling where this is headed. Singapore isn’t very well known to be too expressive. Most locals know that we rather keep to ourselves in the comforts of silence and its sadly, very typically Asian.  We are told to follow the rules and behave within a social norm as if all cultural rules made any logical sense inmarcus such a globalized world. I cannot comprehend how much richer the Singapore dance culture would be if we didn’t have these Culturally-imposed-everyday restrictions. Everyone knows that the only way to grow is to be uncomfortable. So sometimes breaking a social norm , that’s not against the law, would do us really good.



  1. Over categorizing of space or shyness?  : No doubt in a modern society, the availability of facilities have increased and since been catered to different needs. More and more dancers are able to use studios available for rent. In fact, the lack of affordable studios was one key driving factor to the popularity of street dance in the past. So having studios to dance in is good! But in the scene, some dancers are being firm that the definition of street dance is that it still needs to be in the streets from time to time.  This is because the essence of the art is that it should be made public. Yet, the go by the book society in Singapore finds dancers a nuisance should they dance in public areas.

Dancers have also been chased away on occasions too. Below is a thread that mirrors the claim above. [ A screenshot of a conversation started by a well known street dancer in Singapore.]


Apart from the strict rules about what we can and cannot do in public spaces, another reason why dancers may not want to dance on the streets is because they are shy of judgement from other dancers and passer-by. As a street dancer myself, one of the frequent questions I’ve been asked is “Don’t you feel weird dancing in public like that?” most of the time it implies that it is weird to dance in public. Rather , that I am weird to dance in public. So it seems that the push for street dance to be done on the streets is not merely for tradition’s sake, but rather for statement and personal voice. Essentially, street dancing is tantamount to performing for a public audience and that requires immense confidence and emotional strength. If dance is communication then shouldn’t it be important that we have such confidence?

So a few question are , should the traditions and essence of the street dance culture be respected and kept? or should dancers adhere to what is expected within Singapore’s social culture?


2) Choreography , Freestyle or both? : Dance to me is a communication. You could say a choreography is like an  essay that is planed and written while free styling is more of a casual talk with friends and the everyday chit chatter. Both are important and both are useful, but not mutually exclusive. Yet there has been a lot of flak between the dancers in the community. Usually, dancers either stick with choreography or freestyle but rarely both. So this is an issue worth investigating, after all, dance IS dance and should dance be pursued as an art , one would think to perfect it in both areas to the best of one’s ability.  I notice a lot of politics in the scene of what is considered dance Culture or not. And also questions raised about weather the new style is an elevation of the old or just “Trash” as some of the OGs have already stated. Where exactly do dancers draw the line when it comes to genre? When asked , many of my dancer friends would state that as long as one would be happy, let them dance the way they want to.


3) A mere hobby . an Art or Career ?  : Another issue raised is about the appetite of dancers today for learning and improving. As seen in the documentaries shared above, the street culture was a reaction culture and when people wanted to learn and improve, they would have worked hard and cherish whatever lessons they could get because unlike today, classes and dance events were not as easily available as it is today .

This was quoted in a recent blog post by Marzipan , a well know street dancer:

“I don’t rant that often on social media but here is an exception, there’s one thing that’s really bugging the hell out of me right now and that is the state of the street dance scene in Singapore. Yeah it’s all flowery and good and everyone is happy right now but here’s the thing. That IS the problem- where is the struggle, the hardship, the tears, the sweat and blood?

Yin and yang is so important in this world and if you are in a relationship with only smiles everyday, you know there’s something not right and waiting to blow up. The “new” generation is now built on a bed of roses and given so much support, guidance, positive words and sweets that they forgot what it’s like to be hungry. Maybe it’s our fault for indulging them. Maybe it’s because we grew up hungry ourselves that now we are stuffing the new generation with food for thought.

A hungry man will fight harder than anyone else for a piece of the pie. 

We are being served so much that we don’t care about food anymore.”

Perhaps other questions to ponder about are: Is having so many dance classes at the fingertips making dancers of today less driven to work hard and push themselves during classes? Have dancers started to rest of their laurels? Should a hobby be an excuse to not do the best we can?

4)The representation of women: This perhaps is one of the main issues I would like to focus on. Based on personal experience, many female dancers have expressed that the “Battle grounds” is an unfair playing field, stating that men are equipped to be physically stronger and therefore better at dance. I for one, would disagree about the strength because girls have already been proven to be able to attain strength that is equal to men, no doubt that is subjected to differ on a case to case basis.  Also another reason as to why I would disagree would be that the quality of dance should not and cannot be defined by strength alone.

Yet, in the hip hop scene, girls win lesser and I suspect it is not due to a bias , where men are being preferred but rather due to another form of cultural resistance. Asian girls are expected to be demure and feminine. I have been told many times by my mother that the way I dance is very “rough” and “aggressive” and more so , I have been labeled as “one of the guys” because society believes I am “manly” when I dance. Despite the fact that I am considered quite feminine in terms of the Hip Hop culture. It is obvious that the definition of femininity clashes head on when the Singapore Culture is introduced to the Hip Hop Culture.

From what I see, most girls in Singapore prefer to dance genres that emulate femininity.  Genres such as street jazz or waacking is considered more sexy and girly.  That being said, I cannot help but ponder if the preference of female dancers for such genres is shaped and somehow subconsciously dictated by a cultural construct.

I also wonder if females who do battle with Hip Hop lack confidence and hold back their full potential because of the narrative that females have to be demure.



Reflection : 52 Percent By Rafal Skalski

 images 252_Percent imagesSUMMARY

In 52 Percent, the audience follows a girl who strives hard to become a ballerina and works hard to get accepted to an infamous russian ballet academy  where most applicants are rejected.

Link to the online summary!


What I like about this documentary is that it uses juxtapositions to bring the audience into the shoes of the main character. To be honest, though the film was beautiful it was hard to watch. It portrayed clearly how many  obsess over perfection in the ballet community. Though it is for practical reasons because the academy wants only the best of the best, it is not necessarily healthy to young children who have innocent dreams and aspirations, such as Alla. It is no doubt brutal to the child’s self esteem, who may see her worth solely based on her acceptance into the academy.

As for the cinematography and aesthetic, I felt that the film was amazing. One that is obvious is the use of juxtaposition. The line of old judges contrasting the line of young dancers. The childishness of Alla contrasts her mature determination. [ Sense of adult dream Vs. Childish distractions]

Another point to note would be the camera angles used. The close up shots that depicts the physical closeness of Alla to the people around her, from the medical check up scene to the intimate moments between her and her mother ironically are also filmed in moments of discomfort for Alla. Perhaps this is a reason as to why it was so upsetting to watch. Because though the audience are presented with the rawness of her discomfort and pain, we have no choice but to agree that it was necessary for her to pull through with it in order to achieve her dreams.

Documentary Film Making- LETS START


Noun: using pictures or interviews with people involved in real events to provide a factual report on a particular subject.

Now I procrastinate quite a bit so what better way to do so than to watch documentaries right?  I love learning vicariously ! I’ve always been keen on documentaries. Perhaps it was the pursue of knowledge and what was considered unique that pushed me to watch countless hours of theses documentaries.

A few of my go to sources, I’ll link them up so we can share more on research!
Barcroft ,
Seriously Strange _ Rob Dyke

and Here’s the links to some of the topics and research I have explored!

[Do note that the links are still being constantly updated]

How To make a Language

I was inspired by the fictional languages shown in Avatar , Game of Thrones and lord of the Rings. These languages have been developed extensively, some over the years while others over a span of months, but non the less it is amazing to see their cult following. [ I literally have friends that can ‘speak’ and communicate in elf]  So this made me think, what if I developed my own language? I managed to find this on instructables.

For languages, linguist have traditionally focused on :
-Word Creation

All these languages actually back up the worlds that they were created for. Made them so much more real to their viewers. These are some of the successful fictional worlds .

I really like the idea of developing a storyline that is similar to an animation story boarding / script writing. I think it is good to balance fiction and fact in this dictionary.

This is a link for fictional language that we can really learn and communicate with. That’s pretty cool!



it makes sense that I focus on making a ‘legend’ and link in a visual language. I was inspired by the idea of a codex and glyphs. Here are some research I have done for my symbol developing.

Below are some examples of fictional alphabets – Functions the same way as the English language and can be used as a typeface. 

Ancient Symbols by *monstee on deviantART:

Also the usage of glyphs to convey meaning is interesting because that too can be translated.

glyphs tattoo designs                                                                                                                                     tattoos:

Alchemy is also vastly interesting on its on. It is similar to my idea but rather in a Celtic  fashion .

The alchemical table of symbols:


Dictionary – A Reflection

The more I research and reflect, I realise the words that I have chosen are nouns that describe emotions of a state of being.  I guess this is only natural with regards to the project brief. 

In my reflections for dictionary , I decided to create narratives from words that links Dance and Design. These, apart from my religion are the two things that I treasure a lot in life because they allow me to communicate without the usage of words. So I would say dance and design to me is a language. In light of this , I would very much like to translate them over into readable and understandable words. 

I have also come to realise it would be good to venture into the codex and the habit of decoding something through the means of symbols, glyphs and iconographies. 

The vibe I am going for would be something similar to that of archaeology and a historical past. Possibly creating my own narrative and storyline to uncover this “dictionary” of myself. 


.  F I C T I O N A L  .  C O N T E X T  .


The narrative :

In the distance ancient land of Paginores , a dairy has been found belonging to a girl, only known as Rospcha . In it are depictions oh her attained emotions and alongside them history and stories untold. Now with advance technology, we have uncovered their true meaning and have developed an accurate translation. Uncover the past, a lost civilization  awaits you…


The Concept: 

By using the idea of storytelling as a tool, it would be easier for people to empathize and it would remained interesting. As a young child, I have always been interested with archaeology and have imagined myself digging through the sands of Egpyt or china in search of lost history, numerous time. Thus by creating a viable product that could contain my reflections and keeping it decodable, I would feel it very much fun and very true to my desires and wants.

This project for dictionary has been nothing short of great because I was able to ground and develop as sense of self clarity through my research.  Of course, the story of Rospcha will mirror my own personal experiences of how dance and design has liberated my emotions and feelings.

  Paginores – Singapore                                                                                                   Raspcha – Rachops [my Stage name]


The development: 

Through this, I was inspired by many artist and literature professors who have written and developed their own languages . You may check out this post with regard to my research.


Fictional languages are constructed Languages created as part of a fictional setting, for example in books, movies and video games. Fictional languages are intended to be the languages of a fictional world and are often designed with the intent of giving more depth and an appearance of plausibility to the fictional worlds with which they are associated, and to have their characters communicate in a fashion which is both alien and dislocated.



Hostile Architecture – A solution? PART ONE

I was wondering , Why were these laws in the void deck implemented in the first place.  There’s always a rationale behind it!

And the reasons are disappointing.

Its because Singaporeans lack a sense of responsibility. How should we go about proving this is otherwise?

Here are some evidence.

The usual during Chinese New Year – Bring the mess from your home to outside your home! [ Come, I clap for you ]

Image result for void deck rubbish

“Aww come on!  This is a shared space!”

Not sure if this is a Dada art piece for a community gallery or vandalism. 

It really seems that the Singaporean Attitude is also an issue we should tackle!

Yo yo, this just in.

The article states: 

I refer to the letter “Allow ball games at void decks to promote healthy lifestyle, bonding” (Sept 2). I agree with the point about infusing kampung spirit into the heartlands. However, I can understand the reasons the relevant authority has restricted ball games, especially football, from being played at void decks.

A couple of years ago, we lived at a block where we had to access the car park through a function hall. Teenagers played soccer illegally in this hall very frequently, ignoring the “No ball games” sign. On a few occasions, residents, including myself, were almost hit by a ball that was coming towards us at ferocious speed. I cannot imagine the extent of the injury sustained if one were to get hit. The residents had to make sure they had the attention of the players when accessing the car park to avoid any unnecessary mishaps.

Moreover, when players are immersed in the game, they are oblivious to danger to their own lives and may run after the ball across the road and kick it too hard or too high. This has, at times, resulted in damage to property and created negative sentiments among neighbours.


I suppose that makes sense. But also, this type of measures can be easily tackled.

[ Hostile Architecture ] An issue in Singapore?



The issue is direct , Singapore’s Kampong Spirit is dying. The social construct is conservative to the point, neighbours are no longer considered important to sustain each other. Unlike in the past [during the kampong days] , neighbours relied heavily on each other for daily providence [ borrowing food and money] to baby sitting and running errands.

In came the HDB and there is evidence that trust has been lost over the years. I myself do not know my neighbours yet alone trust them.

However the open concept of kampong houses has been replaced by closed metal gates. This is physiologically influencing neighbours to keep a distance from each other.

But one thing is certain , as a child, I had the privileged to run in voidecks , which had walls that were nails free. Playing in open spaces that allowed me and the children in my neighbourhood to run free and play traditional games like ‘ Water and ice’ , ‘ Police and Theif’ , ‘Twist!’ , ‘ Hop scotch’ just to name a few.

And often where there were children , there would be elderly. Sitting around for a chit chat  or playing chess at the facility provided.

These spaces were planned for a purpose. They were planned for interaction due to proximity. But also, they were a reflection of the culture of friendship.

But I was also in the generation that saw the changes implemented by the government with regard to these space.

Imagine, going down as a kid to play soccer and seeing the constructions lathering the walls with cement and placing the nails one by one.

BUT … Is it fair to blame the lack of kampong spirit on hostile architecture alone? 

lol,  I don’t think so. Its the same as blaming a smoker for the world’s air pollution. Outrageous.

There are so many other factors such as a change in interest , an increase of technologically savvy children. Such that no child would want to play at the void deck but rather play fifa on their xbox.

But hostile architecture still plays a heavy contributor to this issue. Given that Singapore has such little land and spatial constraints and an increasingly alarming culture of diverting confrontation, it does not make sense that they would barricade and lesson the function of a space that is necessary, not only for interaction but also so the physical support of the building itself. Legit. Period. 

I mean its already there right, why not use it to the fullest potential.



Research source:


Science behind Time

I usually watch documentaries to understand the concepts of time. Below are a few that serves as bite sized information and summaries

On my own reflections , I came to a conclusion that if we question time , then we should question reality and also our rationality [conciousness] . This video summarizes the scientific explanation of our reality and perception of time and also gives insight of the human fallibility. Our understanding of  time is deemed to be easily manipulated and physically changed [ Brain undergoes actual physical change ]



Philosophy of Time : TIME IS ART

The idea of time and the divine realm. This articles and move brings in the idea of synchronizing and deja vu.  It questions if time is not just linear and aimless as it is perceived now but something that is rather complex and underlined with different patterns and space. It also questions the idea of reality.

Check out the article here : TIME IS ART

As a society we tend to downplay the meaning of an event as long as it is not immediately verifiable, so in the end we would say  ” that is just a coincidence”  when in fact synchronicity proves the effects of a universal conscientiousness.

In all disorder there is a secret order. – Carl Jung