The calm before the storm.
This was it.
The final night of F1 Rocks! And you could tell, too. For starters, the gatekeepers were far stricter inspecting VIP lists this time around. And no wonder - we got to the venue at 7 p.m. and there was already a massive crowd gathered, unlike the previous night when it took awhile for the audience to reach critical mass.
The crowding was evident even in the VIP lounges, where we had to fight tooth and manicured nail to secure a spot. Luckily one of us was able to stake out a nice cozy divan, where we plopped our belongings as placemarkers and stationed a couple of guys from our entourage to stand guard.
Barbarians at the gates.
Even the balconies were full of already-tipsy revelers, and there was much jostling and shoving of beautiful people. As the evening progressed, it didn't matter if the VIP lounges were populated by some of Singapore's local elites and expats. Svelte models and slinky socialites hungrily eyed our divan as they clutched their drinks. Their burly escorts tried to muscle in on our territory by grabbing seats we already said were reserved, or plopping their asses down unceremoniously on our divan without so much as a "May I?" It was a classic display of Singaporean kiasu.*We had to go for drink runs one by one, in order not to lose our precious spot.
The crowd was pumped and ready to rumble.
Outside, the Black-Eyed Peas got the party started with - what else? - Let's Get It Started. It was nice to see Allan Pineda aka Apl.de.ap ("Dude, Pinoy, pareeeee!!!" ) whipping the crowd into a frenzy with Where Is The Love? Foxy Fergie - back to her brunette roots, thank God - fueled the fire with Don't Funk With My Heart, before the group launched into Boom Boom Pow! Things got really wild by the time they got to their latest smash -I Got A Feeling - at which point I, too, got a feeling. A feeling that I wanted a drink, doctor's orders be damned.
After the black eyes, there was no peace.
And so it passed that I violated my short alcohol abstinence via two tall, cold glasses of Heineken. The taste of alcohol felt strange on my lips after months of sobriety, and while it was refreshing to actually drink at a party - especially one such as this - I realized I didn't really miss it that much.
Mistah Boombastics, with pyroclastics.
I didn't invade the buffet table that night, having been force-fed a heavy dinner before proceeding to the venue. Besides, I was in no mood to elbow Calcarrie models lunging for salad and salmon. In the concert pit, after Fergie and the rest of the BEP had finished their set with jets of confetti and fanfare, intermission entertainment consisted of a few guys getting into shoving matches. I can't say I was surprised; if the air-conditioned lounges had turned into carpeted saunas due to sheer body warmth, I could only imagine the steaming temperatures and flaring tempers in the jampacked open field.
Fergie revving up the revelers.
There was also much jockeying for position in the balconies where we also managed to secure strategic strongholds - how fitting that the venue used to be a battlefort. But the combatants there were not starving models, but fellow photographers hungry for a good shot. From cell phone snappers to professionals with huge telescopic lenses, we all hawk-eyed one another's vantage points like snipers.
Domo arigato, Mister Robotos.
Finally, as the clock struck midnight, the stage lights went dark, signaling that our common target would soon be in sight:
From stage darkness, there were diva lights.
The crowd - 10,000 strong by official count - roared as Beyonce, in her first-ever performance in Singapore, shone solo in the spotlight.
The Queen B.
The midnight star opened with a bootylicious version of Crazy In Love, and oh, what a naughty, naughty girl she was!
The Golden Girl, front and center.
To the left, to the left.
Beyonce continued whipping the audience into a frenzy by launching into a series of crowd-pleasers: If I Were A Boy, which she cleverly interspersed with stanzas from Alanis' You Oughtta Know.
Ohhh, mercy, mercy, B?
No one else Knowles how to whip those weaves.
A medley of Destiny's Child hits was next, followed by a couple of ballads, some tribute to Michael Jackson, then a couple of fast numbers I wasn't familiar with.
Oh, these steps remind me of Orlando.
Will she stumble?
Will she fall?
Fall, damn you, fall!
There's still time to fall, Bey.
Of course, the crowd went nuts when the Bey Babe asked them to sing along for her smash hit Irreplaceable. Having the audience sing the chorus of the very popular song also helped her catch her breath in between her livewire performance. Clever girl.
"Now whatchu'all lookin' at?"
"Oops! There goes my skirt, right over my knees, oh my!"
Naturally, when the YouTube video montage of internet camwhores doing their versions of Single Ladies came on, the place just combusted. Beyonce then re-emerged to do a live version of that worldwide hit, whose video prompted that Kanye West meltdown on the VMAs.
"Where'll all mah independent women at?"
"Shake yo' head, shake that thang!"
"Stop! In the name of love!"
And just like the previous night, having seen what we had come here to see, my entourage wisely decided to avoid the hordes of departing concert-goers by exiting before Beyonce gave her encore.
It had been swell. But now it was time to rest, and the next day, off to home.
Home where another force of nature was taking the country by storm.
*Kiasu: Hokkien adjective literally meaning, "afraid of losing". A highly pejorative description beloved of Singaporeans, and possibly their defining national characteristic. The nearest English equivalent is "dog in a manger", though even that is pretty mild.This word is so widely used by Singaporeans and Malaysians that it is incorporated into their English vocabulary (in the form of Singlish). It is often used in describing the social attitudes of people, especially about South East Asian society and its values. Its widespread use is often because these attitudes are common—to not lose out in a highly competitive society, or to the extent of parents imposing heavy study labour on their children in their wish to make them at the very top of all other students. Growing up with this attitude, these students often become ambitious businesspeople, with the desire to be on top in wealth and prestige regardless of whether the most prestigious careers are aligned with their true capabilities. From Wiki and TalkingCock.
And no, TalkingCock doesn't mean what you're thinking. Roughly, it's a Singlish term for gossip, slang, or idle talk. Imagine cocks crowing. Or hens clucking. It's a lot like that.