Just one word to conjure up colourful images of festivity & conviviality.
When I was a little boy, my parents used to bring me and my sister to brave the crowds along Orchard Road to catch a glimpse of those magnificent floats and performances. How I vividly remember those times, especially as I remained perched on my dad's shoulders. Until I ballooned in size during my later years that is.
Being Chingay's 40th anniversary this year, Chingay 2012 celebrates love in all its guises, flowing with passion, romance, harmony and community spirit, with the theme of "Love, Care and Kindness Everywhere".
I was kindly invited to its media conference and full dress rehearsal about 2 weeks back, and it was really an eye-opener to see how everything is put together.
Since this year is the Year of the Water Dragon, it is fitting that the whole Chingay parade takes place ON water. Yup, a 360-metres waterway has been specially constructed behind the F1 Pit Building where performers will literally make a splash with their performances.
As everyone waited for nightfall, the whole area was gradually transformed into an illuminating and magical platform right before my eyes.
And that was the perfect cue for the parade to get underway!
The grand opening segment features a whole array of - what else - dragons; from a LED Hip Hop dragon dance, straw dragons, water dragons, a human dragon from Zhangjiang, a dazzling dragon float to two magnificent dragon and phoenix from Xi'an, Shaanxi of China with 36m-long bodies and 16m-wing!
Coupled with the enthusiastic participation of the performers, it was truly a spectacle of colours, lights and sounds.
International cultures were also displayed in their fullest vibrancy, with various performances and floats from China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia and even Egypt!
One particular segment was the showcase of Chinese Culture featuring "踏歌" (Ta Ge) - a Chinese Classical Dance of Han Dynasty accompanied by a towering float.
The grandeur of the floats were replicated in the other culture segments too, with each being a performance in its own right.
2 float representatives from the NUS Rag Day (an annual float competition) even took part in the parade, with one coming from the Kent Ridge Hall & Sheares Hall while the other was a joint effort from Eusoff & Temasek Halls.
To me, these floats are the highlights as I used to have a hand in constructing this kind of floats every year during my NUS days. The floats are entirely made up of recycled materials, like newspapers, tetra paks, drink cans, etc, so it is a really Herculean task to construct one of these.
The next half of the show shifts its focus to the Community, featuring a multitude of dance forms from line dancing, folk dancing, Samba dancing to a synchronized symphony of 600 'dikir barat' singers and dancers and a tai chi fan dance, and even spectacular bicycle stunts on water.
Oh, and a point to note - be prepared to get REALLY WET if you are seated among the first few rows. The performers really know how to make full use of the water!
Barring the inevitable hiccups (since it was only a rehearsal), Chingay 2012 looks set to be a truly splashing good time for all! And I think Andy (of sengkangbabies) will attest to that too.
There are 2 parade shows on 3 and 4 Feb, but tickets are already sold out for the 4 Feb show. Limited tickets are still available for the 3 Feb one, so do hurry if you want to catch the the parade! You can purchase the tickets via Sistic HERE.
Venue: F1 Pit Building
Dates: 3 & 4 Feb 2012 (4 Feb SOLD OUT)
For prices & location, please click here: http://www.chingay.org.sg/2012/ticketing.asp
For more information on Chingay 2012, visit here: http://www.chingay.org.sg/