Join in the Sarong Party at Aliwal Arts Night Crawl

(From far left) Artist Irfan Kasban, Ms Natalie Tan from Aliwal Arts Centre, Mr Willy Beh from Arts House Limited and Mr Jamal Mohamad from Malay Heritage Centre are involved in the Aliwal Arts Night Crawl this year.
(From far left) Artist Irfan Kasban, Ms Natalie Tan from Aliwal Arts Centre, Mr Willy Beh from Arts House Limited and Mr Jamal Mohamad from Malay Heritage Centre are involved in the Aliwal Arts Night Crawl this year. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Aliwal Arts Centre pays tribute to the traditional costume at its annual festival

If you have a sarong lying around at home, wear it tomorrow and head to Kampong Glam.

Aliwal Arts Centre is throwing its free annual arts bash, the Aliwal Arts Night Crawl, with the theme of Sarong Party this year.

Activities take place all around Kampong Glam from 5pm till late.

Ms Natalie Tan, 34, the centre's senior manager of place-making, says: "This year's theme pays tribute to the sarong, the original costume of the people who lived here - from the orang laut (native fishermen) to the early settlers in Singapore."

While the garment is often seen as part of formal wear and fancy dress in Malay, Peranakan and Indonesian culture, or even linked to the notorious sarong party girl image, Ms Tan hopes that people will come dressed in the sarong and "help reclaim this important part of South-east Asian culture".

The festival, in its fourth year, highlights traditional and contemporary art and the heritage of Kampong Glam. Last year's festival attracted 8,000 people.


    WHERE: Kampong Glam 

    WHEN: Tomorrow, 5pm till late 

    ADMISSION: Free. Registration required for some events, such as Batik Trail and sundown yoga 


Highlights include Batik Boutique led by art collective RSCLS, where you can customise a tote bag using traditional copper batik stamps loaned from the 76-year- old batik shop, Toko Aljunied, in Arab Street.

At 5.30pm, there will also be a trail around Kampong Glam exploring the rich heritage of batik, guided by Ms Lee Chor Lin, a South-east Asian textile specialist and the chief executive officer of Arts House Limited, which manages Aliwal Arts Centre.

The Malay Heritage Centre at Sultan Gate will also hold its annual Hari Raya open house tomorrow. Admission is free and there is a flea market and night-time concert featuring songs, dances and comedy.

The Yoga Co, a yoga studio in Pahang Street, will conduct a free 45-minute sundown yoga session at the Aliwal Street carpark at 6.30pm. The carpark, located opposite Aliwal Arts Centre, will be closed from 5pm.

Ms Sandra Riley Tang, 25, creative director and co-founder of The Yoga Co and a member of home-grown band The Sam Willows, says: "The studio is a minute's walk from Aliwal Arts Centre, which has been a hub for the arts. I've been there for so many events so I'm excited to be able to merge yoga with the arts festival."

Vendors from The Local People Art Market will set up shop in the carpark from 5 to 11pm, and Singapore artist Yllis will perform there at 9.30pm as part of the festival's music component.

Like in previous years, tenants of Aliwal Arts Centre will join in the fun, with some collaborating with businesses in the vicinity.

For example, Malay theatre company Teater Ekamatra will host a film installation by artist Irfan Kasban at 8 and 9pm at its studio in the centre.

It will also have performances of plays-in-progress at boutique hostel Shophouse The Social Hostel in Arab Street and cafe A.R.C Coffee at Sultan Gate.

The Chinese Opera Institute, also a resident of Aliwal Arts Centre, will conduct a Chinese opera weapons workshop at 8 and 9pm and put on a traditional "face-changing" performance at 5.50pm.

Shops such as cafe Working Title in Arab Street and local design store Supermama in Beach Road will offer discounts to festivalgoers.

For those who need help navigating the various events, there is an interactive trail map this year, which can be accessed on mobile phones at

Using the map, visitors can select where to go by choosing to watch a performance, attend a workshop or shop.

Church worker Jessica Eng, 45, attended the festival for the first time last year and enjoyed the hands-on workshops and market.

She says: "This year, I hope to try the batik workshop where I can print my own tote bag design."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'Party with a sarong'. Print Edition | Subscribe