The Night Festival

(The story below is purely fictional, however is based on an actual non-fictional event. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely “coincidental”)


The entire city area was ablaze with excitement as I was swept by a sea of people towards the entrance to the National Museum. Everywhere I looked, there were people as far as the eye could see. Slowly making my past a family of four, who looked like tourists and a couple deep in conversation, I arrived at the main archway leading into the museum. Many of the alabaster white walls of the museum were covered with the dark black posters for the Night Festival. As I stepped through the portal in another world, a guide passed me a booklet of the festival and a hand-held plastic fan showing the locations of all the events happening.
Museum Halls

Wandering the halls, history came alive and I was captivated by the various sights, sounds and even smells of the past. Multi-media displays dazzled and physical artefacts on display gave me a glimpse of what life was like back in the old days. Exhibit after exhibit passed me by as I slowly made my way through time. It did not take me long to finish combing through all the wings of the museum. Looking for something new, I browsed the A5-size Festival booklet to check out the events happening. Noticing that many of the events were taking place at the Singapore Institute of Management’s Campus Green, I made my way over.

Crossing the road from the museum, I was drawn to loud music in the middle of the open space. A stage had been set up and there was a performance going on. The large crowd in front however was a huge turn-off. As I wandered on past a huge manually operated billboard, which flashed messages that people had SMS-ed, the lights dimmed and the people manning the board quickly scrambled to change the letters. A girl had sms-ed in to propose to her boyfriend! The crowd cheered and I assumed that the lucky guy had accepted the proposal.

I walked on. Arriving at the edge of the College Green, I came across an illuminated sign which read:

Curious, I flipped through the Festival booklet and read what was written inside:

As I was about to put away the booklet, an announcement was made, “Come, come, don’t shy! We are the taxi girls and boys from JB. We’ll only be here for one more hour before we head back to JB for our next set! Come and dance with our beautiful Taxi girls and handsome Taxi boys!”

Taxi Boys & Girls

Just beyond the illuminated sign board, a small crowd formed a ring, surrounding an area that became a dance floor. There were many people dancing, but it was apparent who the taxi boys and girls were.  They were dressed to kill and had a numbered small yellow star tag pinned onto their clothes. The music moved me and I could not help but sway to it. As the song ended, the taxi boys and girls approached members of the audience and invited them to dance for the next song. A taxi girl dressed in a traditional Nonya costume approached a young man standing near me and they stepped out onto the dance floor. It was at the moment in which I noticed her…

As my eyes met with hers, I felt a sense of connection. She was clad in a pure white dress with black motifs dancing lazily across it. The dress hugged her slim figure perfectly, accentuating her small frame. She looked young, perhaps in her 20s, her layer hair fixed in a bob. Under the lighting of the street lights, the glitter in her hair sparkled like stardust. Gracefully, she sashayed over to me, opening a black lace fan and fanning herself.

“Would you like to dance?” her full lips enunciated every word.

“But… I…” words failed to come to me as I struggled to come up with a response.

She giggled, “Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to”
She held out her delicate hand and reached for mine. Her grip firm, yet gentle. Slowly she led me to an empty area of the dance floor. Taking my hand, she placed in on her slender waist. Music washed over us and despite the crowd and other dancers around us, we were in a world of our own. Although I did not know the steps to the dance, she led me patiently, teaching me the footwork step-by-step. Many times I made mistakes, stepping or placing my weight on the wrong foot, however we laughed it off, the humor making up for the awkwardness. With each move, her dress swiveled about her in a blur of white silk. Slowly, I grew more and more confident and comfortable and was able to take over the lead form her.

Unfortunately, as quickly as it had begun, the song that brought us together came to an end. I thanked her for the dance and she excused herself to attend to others in the crowd. Leaving me with nothing, but an unforgettable memory and the lingering scent of her floral perfume.


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