While many museums close at 7pm, cravings for creativity don’t generally observe office hours. We scope out a smorgasbord of arts events that take place (and are even improved) after dark.
TEXT BY JO TAN
Published on 28 April 2015
TEXT BY JO TAN
Ever needed to experience some novel, inspiring or even subversive art after a humdrum day at the office? Or maybe you prefer appreciating artworks through the romance and mystery-tinted lens of the night? To encourage those arty instincts that come out after dark, we’ve looked beyond museums that shut in the early evening, as well as the typical after-dinner plays and performances you already know about, to present this round-up of vibrant, engaging and Twitter-worthy post-sunset arts activities.
ARTS ON OVERTIME
Some of the most established arts institutions on the island, while generally diurnal, stay open later on certain days. The intriguing Singapore Art Museum opens till 9pm on Fridays, two hours past its usual 7pm closing time, with free entry for all between 6pm and 9pm, no less. Visit www.singaporeartmuseum.sg for details.
Gillman Barracks, the art cluster comprising the Centre for Contemporary Art and 17 celebrated galleries, including the Singapore editions of Berlin’s celebrated Arndt gallery and the French-founded Michael Janssen Gallery, stays open till 10pm or later (three or more hours past the
galleries’ usual closing times) during its bi-monthly Art After Dark events. Art After Dark, which partners arts events in Singapore such as Art Week, usually involves gigs and/or screenings, workshops and other events. The addition of food and drink pop-ups lend to the festive atmosphere. The upcoming 29 May instalment runs from 7pm to 11pm and is organised in conjunction with the opening of the Singapore Open Media Art Festival, celebrating 40 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Korea. Expect over 40 videos and media installations by Korean, Singaporean and European artists on screens dotted around Gillman Barracks. Visit gillmanbarracks.com for details.
The ArtScience Museum, an integral feature of our skyline which hosts top-notch touring exhibitions featuring everything from Harry Potter to the Titanic, opens till 10pm one Thursday each month. Make the most of special rates on night-time entry to the exhibits, plus edgy bonus performances you can appreciate with a bar beverage in hand. This month’s offering (happening 7 May) is PV868 by TeZ, an experimental audiovisual performance unique to each audience member as it is triggered by brainwaves, sound and light stimulation. For upcoming acts, check here.
Even the Esplanade, which already hosts a well-known bevy of evening performances, makes further concessions to dedicated night owls with its Late Nite @ Esplanade series, with concerts highlighting Singapore musicians beginning at 9.30pm. This month, composer/guitarist Paul Danial takes the limelight on 25 May. Make a date with the Esplanade’s upcoming Late Nite acts here.
And just in case you’re still in the dark about this signature arts-and-culture event, the annual Singapore Night Festival, organised by the National Heritage Board, will take place over two weekends from 21 August, transforming the Bras Basah arts district with interactive light performances and installations taking place from 7pm till 2am. You can also expect dance, music and installation artworks by Singapore and international artists. Museums will stay open till the wee hours and even roll out special programmes. This year’s full line-up will be announced closer to the date at www.brasbasahbugis.sg.
As with some underground creatures who only emerge after sunset, these underground artists and art events come alive at night. RIOT! features various drag artists fronted by writer/performance artist Eugene Tan (who also goes by the moniker Becca D’Bus) that is equal parts entertainment and clever commentary. Catch the revue every second Saturday of the month, 8pm, at Orchard Road entertainment venue TAB. Find out more at
The versatile Tan also hosts Dr Sketchy Singapore, the monthly, non-nude Singapore edition of a worldwide life-drawing session at Artistry Cafe, where notable artists themselves, ranging from art activists to actors to pole dancers, serve as models. The crowd are legitimate art-lovers who turn up to sharpen their skills, so don’t go expecting to stare at the occasional scantily-clad poser, or you’ll be charged an extra $5 for ogling sans drawing. Find out more at his blog and Facebook Page.
Soak up the night air at Fort Canning Park’s various super-sized events. These include The Tempest, currently ongoing as part of the Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park series, and Singapore Dance Theatre’s annual Ballet Under the Stars, taking place over two weekends in June. Alternatively, you could let loose at venues like Hard Rock Hotel’s The Coliseum, where Japan’s top female rock band, Scandal, performs 8 May. Tickets for all the above are available at Sistic.
Even temporary street stages enjoy the light-and-heat minimising benefits of the night, which is why street shows are generally nocturnal. Appreciate the simply but effectively lit getai performances during the evenings of the Lunar seventh month. Or catch a wayang, which takes place throughout the year, at the courtyard of most temples.
Then there are outdoor shows where the night sky is the backdrop. Examples include light-and-water spectaculars like Wings of Time at Sentosa, or Resorts World Singapore’s Crane Dance, both featuring intricately designed images projected with lasers, lights, pyrotechnics and water effects. As it’s free entry to Sentosa during SG50, don’t miss the opportunity to take in these shows. More details at www.sentosa.com.sg.
Certain budding artists can only strut their stuff in the evening or night, because, well, they have full-time jobs. A great way to catch these raw talents is at open-mic nights, such as Cus Poetry Nights, currently at the Wallich Grill Bar Lounge, where any aspiring art-maker can register a slot to sing a song or perform a sampling of poetry and prose. Search Cus Poetry Nights on Facebook to find out details about the upcoming session on 2 May.
There’s also the touring OOOM Social Open Mike sessions for people to sing and share stories. The event often rolls out themed sessions highlighting various causes. Its 20 March instalment promoted environmental awareness with Singapore’s only solar-powered open mic, with machinery powered by a whole day of sun-soaking before being used at night. Details about upcoming open-mic sessions can be found at www.facebook.com/OOOM.sg.
The instrumental equivalent of open-mic sessions would be regular jam sessions like the
Blues & Boogie Jam at Barber Shop, where participants play together with established bands such as Chicken Shack Revival. More details at www.facebook.com/BarberShopByTimbre. If your playing preference is jazz, there are a number of jazz jams happening weekly or monthly at hangouts like the Crazy Elephant Bar or Singjazz Club, which end impressively late. Don’t be surprised if, emboldened by the cover of dusk, you are moved to go onstage to sing or play an instrument!
Singapore is full of outdoor public art, but the sweltering sunshine can hinder anyone’s appreciation of these creative works. Turn tourist one cool evening and embark on a walking tour to discover standout architecture, installations and sculptures, with the help of free visual art trails you can refer to on www.yoursingapore.com. These trails take you through areas like Orchard, the Civic District and Marina Bay, all gorgeously lit even through the night.
After your ramble, take a bite of art at 2AM Dessert Bar, an open-till-late fine-dessert restaurant serving architectural sweets and pastries by award-winning chef/artist Janice Wong. Visit www.2amdessertbar.com for more. Or head for Brew Maison, where your drink is topped with 3D or cartoon latte art by some of Singapore’s rare specialists in the craft! Log on to www.facebook.com/BrewMaison for more delicious details.