Monday, April 15, 2024

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Commentary: Think Singapore is boring? That’s partly why it can attract repeat visits from Taylor Swift

Some commentators suggest that Singapore needed Taylor Swift to inject some fun into an otherwise boring country. Any city is only as interesting as you make it out to be, says writer April Zara Chua.

Fans of Taylor Swift queue for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour merchandise outside Kallang Wave Mall on Mar 2, 2024. (Photo: CNA/Eugene Goh)

SINGAPORE: Taylor Swift has left the building and the furore that swept Southeast Asia is simmering down.

As a Swiftie, the excitement truly was palpable. You can’t blame us; we have been waiting for this since July last year.

In the weeks leading up to her shows, local establishments joined in on the Tay Tay fever with Eras-Tour-themed events and activities. On the days she was in town, shops played her hits on loop, and fans of all ages donned sequined outfits and friendship bracelets.

It was in your face, whether you were in on it or not.

Taylor Swift’s fans take a photo at the National Stadium for Swift’s Eras Tour concert in Singapore on Mar 2, 2024. (Photo: Reuters/Caroline Chia)

Singapore felt so exciting then, leading some commentators to suggest that Singapore needed Ms Swift to inject some fun into an otherwise staid country.

“Can a boring city become cool – with a little help from Taylor Swift?” read a headline of a recent op-ed.

For someone who has lived most of her life here and has made Singapore home, I don’t find Singapore boring. I think feeling bored here has nothing to do with Taylor Swift – it’s merely a state of mind.

SINGAPORE WELL-EQUIPPED TO HANDLE CROWDS

I admit, for that week, Singapore was just electric because of the sheer volume of Swifties hyping it up. And this was amplified by the fact that Singapore was the only stop in the Southeast Asian leg of the Eras Tour, which caused a stir on its own.

This was Swift’s fourth time here but it’s not just her – Singapore has attracted repeat visits from many other international acts. Coldplay has performed in Singapore five times, Ed Sheeran four, Blackpink and BTS twice, and Bruno Mars’ upcoming shows in April mark his third.

Singapore’s efforts in establishing itself as a regional, if not global, entertainment hub are paying off. Geographically, we are in a prime location and are well-connected and accessible to many countries.

Singapore may have received flak for being a “fine city” in the past, but it is precisely because of the reliability, efficiency, safety and security that it is a preferred destination for prominent acts. The country also has the infrastructure to host large-scale events and capability in managing crowds.

Just hours after Swift’s concerts at the Singapore Sports Hub, international fans lauded the country’s transport system and crowd control on social media. One fan who travelled from the Philippines expected traffic to take hours as it would in her country, only to arrive at the stadium in 20 minutes.

Manila’s traffic is so bad it inspired Coldplay frontman Chris Martin to write an impromptu song about it when they performed in the Philippines in January, singing, “There is only really one thing that remains. The traffic here in Manila is completely insane.”

@erikas.era May this trip remain as an eye opener to what the Philippines is missing out on & what the Filipino commuters could have if only our transport and government system is as efficient. #cultureshock #TSTheErasTour #taylorswift #singaporetstheerastour #theerastour #firstworldproblems #thirdworldcountry #singapore ♬ Daylight by Taylor Swift sped up – brooke ⎕

ANY CITY IS ONLY AS INTERESTING AS YOU MAKE IT OUT TO BE

For tourists, Singapore offers many exciting attractions such as Gardens by the Bay, Mandai Wildlife Reserve, ArtScience Museum and Sentosa. As a resident, I’ve been to these places on multiple occasions and still enjoy them since there are always seasonal events that keep the rotation fresh.

However, Singapore’s smaller land size compared to the rest of Southeast Asia also make recreational choices limited. For example, while we take pride in being a city in a garden, we lack the natural landscapes that would thrill outdoorsy types.

An expatriate friend concurs, saying that Singapore can be a lot less exciting for expats if you’re comparing it to cities like New York, London, Hong Kong or Shanghai. But he added that if you’re looking for stability and a healthy living environment, Singapore offers enough to fill your days.

In recent years, there have also been more interesting events emerging such as thrifting, music acts and pop-ups. Even things as mundane as mall closures go out with a bang. In January, 47-year-old Peace Centre, which in its final days was a space for graffiti art and social enterprises, was bid farewell in a mall-wide party featuring DJ raves and wrestling shows.

Thanks to social media, it isn’t difficult to find something new to do over the weekend. And if you have a young family like I do, Singapore has plenty to offer from kid-friendly nature walks to indoor and outdoor playgrounds and water parks. While some are paid attractions, a bunch are free – you just need to look.

I would have dropped everything and braved the heat and rain to join my fellow Swifties at “Category 100” outside the Sports Hub to hear strains of the Eras Tour. But alas, I had commitments.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t vicariously reliving the concert atmosphere through my friends’ social media updates. I was surprised to see my non-Swiftie friends joining in on the fun, which just shows that there is always something happening in “boring Singapore” if you let yourself be open to new experiences.

April Zara Chua is a freelance content developer and mother to a preschooler and a 7-year-old cat.

By: April Zara Chua
Originally published at: Channel News Asia



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