Rekindling the kampung spirit at Dakota Crescent.

If only for one afternoon.

Last Sunday afternoon, the residents of Dakota — then and now — reunited at the estate for a celebration of the good ol’ times in an event aptly named Remember Dakota Crescent.

The estate at Dakota Crescent was once the crown jewel of the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT). Now, perhaps only half of the units are occupied as most of the original residents have relocated.

News of the impending demolishment had ignited fresh calls to conserve these 1950s era buildings. Unsuccessful, the folks of Tian Kee & Co. and Tung Ling Community Services decided to organise one last hoorah.

These photographs were sourced from the residents via an open call.
The flea market featured local illustrator Ly Yeow (L) and home-made patchworks by social enterprise TeddyThotz ‘n’ OneKind (R) amongst others.
In addition to some up-and-coming local bands — Cashew Chemists.gif and MICappella— the various residential interest groups were invited to showcase their talents to the hundred-odd audience.
This enchanted uncle was waving his arm to the cowboy performance.
One is never too young for popcorn.

The notorious back-alley barbers from Geylang Adventures were present too. We had previously collaborated on a pop-up post office beside Aljunied MRT Station, a project we call Migrant Mail.

Instead of providing free haircuts to the migrant workers, they did so for the kids and the elderly.

Back-alley barber J and his happy customer.
Auntie didn’t want to smile ’cause of the gap in between her teeth. How cute!
Some customers were trickier than others. Babies especially required more attention and patience.
Luckily we had help from the tok tok uncle.
There was a heavy shower halfway through and we had to seek shelter, but the back-alley barbers never stopped.
It was heartwarming to observe the dynamics between the ah mah and her domestic helper.
They constantly sought each other’s opinion of how the haircut was.
Uncle and his daughter got their hair cut too!

How does one remember the past?

A place is given meaning not just through the infrastructure but more so through its people and their memories — and that was what the event truly was about.

The sense of community was tangible: neighbours greeted each other with enthusiasm; old friends long lost were catching up by the blue dove playground; strangers smiled at one another without hesitation.

Somehow everyone present was a little friendlier, a little more helpful, and maybe even a little happier.

But the smiles on everyone’s faces shielded the bitter truth that this place will soon be no more.

Indeed, we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. Perhaps we shouldn’t wait until it’s too late before we scramble to collect what little memories we have left. But we never truly learn, do we?

Hopefully Remember Dakota Crescent and Chinatown’s Getai Electronica are just the first steps of a movement that celebrates the good of Singapore and Singaporeans before they disappear.

As night fell, the back-alley barbers had to close shop too. By then, their fingers were sore and their arms weak.

We boarded the old school elevator at a neighbouring block, which stopped at the sixth floor with a strong jerk. We got off and peered at the performance below.

In our minds, we had the same thought — it was a good evening.

We at Waiting for Lorry are on the look out for better ways to engage the community, with a focus on migrant workers. Do connect with us if you have an idea via Facebook or email us at .