In the footsteps of dancers

Mr Marcus Tan, 30, and Ms Rachel Lee, 26, at their favourite spot in Singapore - a life-size chess board at the Sports Hub.
Mr Marcus Tan, 30, and Ms Rachel Lee, 26, at their favourite spot in Singapore - a life-size chess board at the Sports Hub.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Singapore Invites, launched by the Singapore Tourism Board, encourages residents and people from around the world to invite their family and friends to experience Singapore together. In the first of a five-part series, street dancers Marcus Tan and Rachel Lee share a slice of Singapore that holds a special place in their hearts.

Street dancers Marcus Tan and Rachel Lee often find themselves back at square one, literally.

Their favourite spot in Singapore is a life-size chess board called Giant Chess at the Sports Hub, on Level 3, above the Singapore Sports Museum.

The black-and-white board, painted on the floor, comes with 24-inch chess pieces that enable gameplay; but that is not why the couple go there. They practise popping, the style of dancing in which they specialise.

The square, and a nearby grass patch, present them with unobstructed dancing space; but it is the view that makes it special to them.

"It's in the perfect location, among different backdrops. There's the city skyline, Flyer, the Tanjong Rhu estate and the Indoor Stadium," said Mr Tan, 30, a marketing manager. The chess board is a quirky feature, in contrast to the urban Singapore he can see from there, he added.

UNIQUE SIGHTS

They won't get this itinerary if they Google to find 10 things to do in Singapore.

STREET DANCER RACHEL LEE, on taking out-of-town friends to lesser-known spots in Singapore

  • DANCING IN SINGAPORE

  • Mr Marcus Tan and Ms Rachel Lee have entertained their foreign dancer friends many times. These locations come in tops for dancing on their list - with good reason.

    *SCAPE

    Located in Orchard Link, it is central and the best place to catch all kinds of dancers and dance styles. There are also other street artists taking part in events and activities such as parkour and cheerleading. Power points are provided for speakers as well.

    SINGAPORE MANAGEMENT UNIVERSITY UNDERPASS

    It is sheltered and there is good ventilation. There are power points for speakers to use. Like *Scape, it is centrally located, and offers dining and shopping options nearby.

    THE ESPLANADE UNDERPASS

    A popular dancing spot, it boasts a big open space. It also attracts heavy human traffic, so there is always an audience.

    REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC

    There are many different spots for dancing - and air-conditioning too. This makes it one of the more comfortable places to practise.

    VOID DECKS OF HDB BLOCKS

    These spots, say the couple, are the most convenient locations for dancers to meet up with those living nearby.

He also appreciates the spot for the openness and freedom it provides. What is more, the area is always lit up, making it a good place to practise or have a gathering, even late into the night.

Ms Lee, 26, a freelance designer, said it has all that a tourist needs to enjoy Singapore's skyline, except crowds. The couple practise dancing there at least once a week.

Having travelled all over the world to dance, they have fellow dancers from other countries asking to be taken around Singapore every other month.

Such friends are lucky, as they see parts of Singapore that other tourists usually do not. Apart from the Sports Hub, the Esplanade underpass, *Scape in Orchard Link and even the Rail Corridor are popular spots among dancers here.

Mr Tan also takes his guests on a three- to four-hour drive round Singapore. "Usually, it's after dinner. We will be too full to dance or do anything else, so a road trip is the best thing to do," he said.

The drive also offers their friends an authentic side of Singapore, said Ms Lee.

They would go to places such as Geylang, where they sit by the roadside to eat tropical fruits such as durian, mangosteen and rambutan.

Other places include Labrador Park, Little India and Changi Village. The road trip would sometimes turn up gems. Once, they chanced upon an Egyptian-themed house on Sentosa, complete with a pair of pharaohs at the entrance.

The drive would also take them to places such as Jurong Hill, which has a lookout tower on its summit and offers a bird's eye view of Jurong.

Ms Lee said she likes being able to take friends to lesser-known parts of Singapore: "They won't get this itinerary if they Google to find 10 things to do in Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 25, 2015, with the headline 'In the footsteps of dancers'. Print Edition | Subscribe