The Dance of the Flaming Arseholes – Before hot yoga, there was this workout
Singapore’s reputation as a safe, clean and efficient nation is something the city worked hard to attain. And many visitors hardly look beyond the conglomerate of fancy and sanitized buildings. But there is a lot that is hidden from plain sight.
Back in the 1960s-70s, when Singapore was an unruly sailors’ town, the neighbourhood of Bugis Street was a thriving collection of bars, Zhi Char stalls and transvestites, all vying for the custom of thirsty, hungry, and excited military men on shore leave.
“What made the [Bugis area] busy was the sailors, that whenever their vessels came to port. Behind Hylam Street is Malabar Street, before coming to Victoria Street….our block was the block [that housed] prostitutes from Hungary.” – Mr. Choo Teck Hong.
“Bugis Street [was a food place] visited at that time by foreigners…English army and navy who made stopover in Singapore. Bugis Street is well known for services from transvestites. And the various Chinese foods, such as frogs, snakes, and so on were the favourites among the visitors.”– Mr. Mahmud Awang.
Things would get rowdy, as you would imagine, but sailors from the Royal Australian Navy took the cake – there are photographs of men on the roof of a public toilet in a Bugis Street alleyway, with something alight sticking out from their naked buttocks.
This stunt was practiced in various ports of call, and was called The Dance of The Flamers, or The Dance of The Flaming Arseholes. Here’s how it goes….
You light a rolled up tube of newspaper and stick it between your buttocks while bent over with your pants around your ankles. Then you have to shuffle from the start line to the finish line without dropping the “Torch”.
If you drop the torch you’re in trouble and will suffer a penalty ranging from having to start over to getting doused with beer before having to start over again.
Typically it’s like a right of baptism that everyone in a team or group will participate in, to both gain acceptance and strengthen ties by the age old addage of shared absurdity…. Or was it adversity….
Who really cares, pass me another beer and light my torch, will ya?!?
While visiting sailors may behave a little more restrained these days, the Be app travel app to Singapore will equip you with the know-how to explore beyond the obvious. Powered by local recommendations, we reveal our favourite spots in Singapore, from the ideal route for an early-morning run to the best places to eat and drink. Full of surprises and quirks, our guides also feature detailed design and architecture pages. Explore ‘destination neighbourhoods’ that take you away from the crowds.
Source and Pictures: Roy Tan and Mothership.SG