By Celeste Chia
Photo credit: Joey Ong
The festivals that my friends from Western countries celebrated had always interested me, especially those near the end of the year – namely Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. However, these festivals were largely quiet affairs in Singapore. Being from a Chinese cultured secondary school, I had never celebrated Halloween or attended any Halloween-themed party, nor did I have Singaporean friends who had done so. Thus, I was really thrilled when it was announced that there would be Halloween celebrations in Cinnamon College on the evening of the 31st of October.
I did not dress up for the occasion due to sheer laziness. I wondered how many people would actually dress up, and if so, to what degree. Would they “go all out” with makeup and costumes specially bought for Halloween, or would they dress up casually with a few accessories or outerwear to reflect their character identity? Those who shared the lift taking me down to the themed Halloween dinner were all dressed in plain clothes. “Maybe Halloween isn’t a big deal here after all,” I mused. But as the lift doors slid open at the lobby, a flurry of colours and costumes greeted me.
Even though the dinner had not officially begun, there was plenty of colour in the lobby – with many in suits, coats, togas, dresses, and so on in the spirit of Halloween. There were many interesting costumes that night, but personal favourites include the guy who dressed up as a sushi roll and the one who declared he was a foreign talent who had come to “steal your jobs away”. Spirits were high, with people happily chatting over Muscato wine or posing for themed photos at the photobooth as they waited for the dining hall to open. The air was thick with anticipation, not just for the decorations but also the food.
The decorations at the dining hall did not disappoint, despite the candles and the rose petals resembling more of a candlelight dinner. Once most of us were seated, Professor John Richardson took the stage to give his “speech”, where he got us to sing along to a Halloween nursery rhyme-like song. Then it was on to the food, which was, as echoed by my friends, surprisingly tasty and a huge improvement from the standard fare at the dining hall. I appreciated the effort made to centre the food and drinks around the Halloween theme, from the red napkins to the virgin Bloody Mary to the minestrone soup. Dinner was an enjoyable affair, with the emcees keeping us entertained throughout and we checked each other’s costumes out.
Unfortunately, the line-up of performances and other events scheduled to start after dinner did not start on time. The “carnival” at CTPH was pretty disappointing, with a limited scope of products sold. However, the wonderful performances more than made up for it, and it was a shame my friends and I only managed to catch the musical performances towards the end. It was great to see familiar faces showcase their renditions of songs from equally familiar artistes, from Death Cab for Cutie to Oasis to Broadway.
“USP seriously has so much talent,” my senior mused, in between songs. A group of us was supposed to leave the hall at 10.45pm to attend a house meeting, but we all stalled when we realised what the next act was going to be, and ended up staying for the act, and the act afterwards, and the next…
All in all, USC Halloween was an enjoyable affair and, for me, a nice initiation into the world of Halloween celebrations. My thanks go out to the adorable pair of emcees, the performers, and the photographers at the photobooth. Of course, this is not to forget the organising committee for Halloween – and those who enthusiastically dressed up and became part of dinner conversation. This has whetted my appetite for more themed USP events!