Balls and belly-dancing at Moshi Moshi Bollywood World Cup launch

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WHO says balls and belly-dancing cannot form a lethal sporting cocktail to kick-start the upcoming World Cup Russia 2018?

The owners of Singapore’s most famous adults dancing joint, Moshi Moshi Bollywood at Cuppage Plaza, off Koek Road, threw a mammoth football bash on Thursday (June 7) with a celebrity cast of the “Kallang Roar” heroes of the mid-1970s.

Yes, it was time to let the hairs down and to nicely shake the hips to celebrate the start of the World Cup, from June 14-July 14 and belly-dancing proved to be the right flavour, if you mix the balls well.

Even the dictionary defines it as “a type of Middle Eastern dance done by a woman who makes rhythmic movements with her hips and belly”. But, the football celebrities broke the stereotype and relished the joys of the ancient fertility dance form which is now a global phenomenon.

“We wanted to celebrate the 2018 World Cup with the heroes of the ‘Kallang Roar’, whose ‘blood, sweat and tears’ at the heights of the Malaysia Cup fever drew 60,000 fans to the National Stadium,” says Moshi Moshi Bollywood owner Sapuran Singh, popularly known as ‘Ricky’. “It’s the perfect way to pay tribute to the good ‘ole football legends and to let them know that we appreciate their sporting services.”

In the capacity banging little club, at the basement of Cuppage Plaza, were also football VIPs from Malaysia, with Datuk Santokh Singh, the Selangor-born legend who starred from 1972 to 1985, winning nine Malaysia Cups as captain of the team. He also played for Malaysia in the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran, capturing the bronze medal, and winning the SEA Games gold medal in 1977 and 1979. Notably, his partnership with “The Towkay” Soh Chin Aun was said to be the most solid defence in the much-feared Malaysian team

The Lions icons comprised Quah Kim Song, Seak Poh Leong, M. Kumar, Roy Krishnan, Lim Teng Sai, Robert Sim, Terrence Gomes and also 1981 SNOC ‘Coach of the Year’ Jita Singh, the first Sikh footballer to play for the Lions and the youngest coach at 31 years to win the Malaysia Cup in 1980.

Significantly, Samad Allapitchay, Fandi Ahmad, Razali Saat, Samsuddin Rahmat, Malek Awab and the Muslim players politely skipped the event because of observance of Ramadan month.

FOOTBALL LUMINARIES

Other football luminaries who hit the dance-floor were Belgium-born FAS Technical Director Michel Sablon (who celebrated his Thursday birthday) and former S-League Chief Executive Officer Lim Chin, ex-FAS Director of Competitions Kok Wai Leong, former Malaysia Cup trainer Justin Morais and ex-World Cup referee Nadesan Chandra. Also present were Edmond Pereira, the President of Flash Athletics Club and Singapore’s oldest Olympian, 90-year-old Ajit Singh, who took part in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

Poignantly, when Datuk Santokh was asked about his “toughest opponent”, he rightly acknowledged Kim Song, who was hailed with nicknames “Mercurial”, “Quicksilver” and “Speed Demon” by fans and media. He was named Footballer of the Year in 1974 and Player of the Year in 1976, and Datuk Santokh vividly remembers that among Kim Song’s most memorable matches was the 1977 Malaysia Cup Final at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he scored two goals in a 3-2 win for Singapore against Penang.

Hey, the groovy music and dances at Moshi Moshi would’ve even made Egyptian Liverpool midfield icon Mohamed Salah envious, too, as the Arabic expressive dance originated in Egypt and sexily emphasises complex movements of the torso.

Over the years, it has evolved to take many different forms depending on the country and region, both in costume and dance style. And, in my entertainment books, Moshi Moshi Bollywood ranks the best in town.

“Footballers usually excel in the belly dance as it s primarily a torso-driven dance, with an emphasis on articulations of the hips,” says Ricky’s property-manageress wife Puran Kaur, who was the co-host of the World Cup event. “Unlike many Western dance forms, the focus of the dance is on isolations of the torso muscles, rather than on movements of the limbs through space.”

The Ricky-Puran hubby-wife pair have been banking on sports and dancing with unique concepts to keep attracting the multi-cultural crowds the past decade.

Moshi Moshi means ‘Hello’ in Japanese and it since its opening in 2007  in the basement of a building that caters largely to a Japanese audience, it’s been doing brisk entertainment business.

MOVIE ACTOR

“We have quite a multi-cultural crowd here. We created an ambience where our Indian regulars can bring their Caucasian or Chinese colleagues and still feel comfortable,” says Ricky, a die-hard football fanatic, who recently made his Bollywood acting debut in the Hindi romantic-thriller, Pareshaan Parinda, as a Mafia don with outdoor scenes shot in Sydney, Australia).

Back to the football heroes: They were truly having a ball-of-a-time as talented emcee K.P. Sandhu fired the evening with his thriller showtime antics. As I watched the classy chemistry between balls and belly-dancing, with the East European dancers in stunning form, I’m reminded of the artistry of sports and dance.

In addition to these torso movements, the sexy dancers in many styles smartly use level changes, travelling steps, turns and spins.

I found it exhilarating that their arms are used to frame and accentuate movements of the hips, for dramatic gestures, and to create beautiful lines and shapes with the body, particularly in the more balletic, Westernised styles. It was a nocturnal marvel to see their other movements used as occasional accents, such as low kicks and arabesques, backbends and head tosses.

What a bombshell of a football evening.

As Datuk Santokh Singh says: “If only we could incorporate some of the belly-moves during our hey-days we would’ve been like Mohamed Salah today, easily the best-footed dancer-like footballer, who’s most unpredictable with his jiffy movements.”

To add to the multi-cultural flavour to the evening, I was impressed by veteran psychiatrist  Dr Ang Yong Guan’s  crooning of the world’s most popular Hokkien song: Ai Pia Jia Eh Yia / 爱拼才会赢 ! (Hokkien for “success only comes with perseverance!”)  For the record, Dr Ang holds the rank of Colonel (retired) in the Singapore Armed Forces and was the head of the Psychological Medicine Branch before he retired from the SAF. A grassroots leader, he was a former Singaporeans First (SF) general election candidate.

‘KALLANG ROAR’ HEROES

Former S-League Chief Executive Officer Lim Chin praised Moshi Moshi for recognising the “Kallang Roar heroes during the start of the World Cup 2018”.

He says: “What an awesome bash. We were inspired by the power and unity that sports and music bring to the world. Moshi Moshi’s content plan to capture this spirit celebrates the creative passion of footballers with music and how both of these awesome forces inspire and honour the legends of yesteryears.”

Indeed on the lips of the celebrities to who will win the Russian edition of the World Cup, Germany ranks as the favored with World Cup odds at 7-2. Traditional power Brazil follows closely at 4-1, and a trio of teams — France, Spain and Argentina are going off at 6-1.

But “birthday boy” Sablon, who celebrated his 71st birthday, is banking on his home team – Belgium, a squad going off at 10-1 in the latest World Cup odds.

He says: “Belgium boasts one of the most young and talented squads in this competition. The Red Devils (Belgium’s nickname) topped their qualification group in style, winning nine out of their 10 matches. Belgium’s attack, which is spearheaded by Premier League playmakers Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, scored 43 goals in qualification. In my opinion, this could be the year the talented youngsters cash in.”

For Moshi Moshi Bollywood host Sapuran Singh, he’s keeping his cards very close to the belly. But he tells me that it would be a surprise if the winners came from outside of Germany, Spain, France, Brazil and Argentina.

Keep a lookout for the Facebook page of Moshi Moshi Bollywood which will list the “live” matches that will be shown from June 14.

Remember the place: B1-26/27,  5 Koek Road, Cuppage Plaza, Singapore 228796 . – By SURESH NAIR

 

  • Suresh Nair is a Singapore-based journalist who has covered the hey-days of the ‘Kallang Roar’ from the late1970s.
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