The Mystery of the Bootscootin’ Singapore Senior Citizens

The standout is a snake-hipped old guy in a black shirt, Cuban heels and 10-gallon hat.

He knows all eyes are on him and he knows why. He’s the best bootscooter of the pack. His shoulder dips are deeper, his arse-wiggles wider, his turns swoopier, the way his thumbs are tucked into his belt loops sexier.

His enormous belt buckle dips and sways to the country beat. He could be anywhere between 60 and 80. I find it hard to tell how old some Asian people are.

Like most Singaporeans, he has a neutral-to-grumpy face, even though the moves his whippet-thin body is making is working the crowd into a frenzy.

I can recognise him now. Not just from the hat, which would cast such a big shadow if it were daytime. It’s the fourth time this mob and their boom box has appeared in the open area near my local hawker centre. And each time I’m transfixed by this guy, his outfits and his moves.

I can’t work out their schedule, this mysterious crowd of line dancers. I have an inkling its a senior citizens club, but there are some younger smoother faces in the crowd.

As usual, I don’t have my camera. This is the fourth time this has happened in the past year. And it’s too hot to walk home to get it. I have groceries to buy, then dinner to cook. (I know, my wild and raunchy Saturday night just blows you away, right?)

Without a camera, I have to describe the line dancers in words.

There’s a slump-shouldered grey haired lady, wearing grey. She is boot scootin’ in a serious manner. A graceful serious manner that has a touch of tai chi in it.

There’s the second tier star, another old guy with a magnificent wardrobe. He’s wearing black jeans, a black and grey checked cowboy shirt and a pork pie hat in a matching check. And sunglasses. Even though it’s 7pm and the sky is almost dark.

There’s a chubby lady in a sexy black spaghetti strap exercise top. She’s the only one who looks like she’s having fun. The rest have that school prefect look – a half frown of concentration with an underlying splash of smugness in doing the right thing. Singaoreans are such goodie-goodies. Even the rebels.

There’s another younger chubby type. She’s wearing black exercise clothes and has a towel draped around her neck. She is serious about this exercising gig.

There’s a granny type in the middle with rhinestone-studded white-framed glasses. They’re the most artsy-fartsy fabulous glasses I’ve ever seen. Even she’s not smiling as she turns and heel taps in time with the others.

A lady with a school teacher face. White denim skirt (a sedate over the knee length, of course), a checked shirt and white fringed mid calf cowbow boots.

A slow song comes on and everything slows down. I can’t believe no one drapes themselves over the old guy in the 10-gallon hat for a proper slow dance, like we did for the last song at a school disco.

They’re still at it when I pass by on the way home, with a backpack laden with floor cleaner, toilet duck, rice, wine and vegetables.

They make me smile. The fact that no one else is smiling makes me shake my head in wonder. Singapore is a very strange place.

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9 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. jamie - cloud people adventures says:

    although i respect and admire your intricate descriptions of the dancers, why oh why oh why did you not have a camera!!??? it would have been epic amazing. still a great post though, kinda makes me want to go to singapore!

  2. robin says:

    I hope I’m like that guy when I’m eighty.

    And I’m glad you didn’t have your camera because it made you write this beautiful post – fantastic little character sketches, brief but rich.
    robin recently posted..Playa

  3. Great descriptions. I would have loved to see that. Thinking of wintering in Singapore in a year or two. Will absolutely look out for these senior dancers then. Where in Singapore are they?
    Sophie@Sophie’s World recently posted..Where in the world

    • The Dropout says:

      I think they must move around a bit. We see them near Marine Parade Central in the East Coast area. Do your research before arriving in Singapore, Sophie, it’s REALLY expensive here.

  4. inka says:

    You did a brilliant job, even sans camera. Those old guys are just such an inspiration.
    inka recently posted..Visit Hasankeyf before it’s gone forever!

  5. I love older people! Today they offer such hope and inspiration. Great story to share with us all.
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Langauge- A Necessary Part of Travel

  6. what FUN! i can so imagine this. i also loved your shopping list. LOL!
    wandering educators recently posted..MEN Painting MEN

  7. Laurel says:

    Seriously, line dancing seniors in Singapore? I love it. But how can you not be smiling and having a good time when line dancing. Would love to see a photo of this the next time you go (I hate it when I forget my camera too).
    Laurel recently posted..How Losing Weight is Like Learning a Foreign Language

  8. I totally do not believe that you saw this in Singapore. Carry that camera! These pics would have been priceless. (I should take my own advice.)
    The Travel Chica recently posted..I Came All the Way to South America to Drink Gato Negro

    • The Dropout says:

      I totally did see this in Singapore. I will try to carry the camera more but … there’s so much stuff to carry around when you’re entourage includes a baby. When I am without the little princess, it’s a joy to be unencumbered!

  9. I’m kind of glad there are no photos with this. I can picture them – great description, and Mr whippet-thin is the slinkiest of them all.

    I am guessing you are a dancer or love to dance or yearn to dance.

    David @ The Quillcards Blog recently posted..Six Angles To Shoot London

  10. Renee says:

    I like the idea of imagining descriptive pieces in my head, in my mind’s eye, I feel like I am there somehow looking on as the colorful, motley crew perform in perfect rhythm…for me, not pics are necessary.
    Renee recently posted..Rolling on the Mississippi River with the Creole Queen!

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