Watch: #BuroSocial dinner inside the pool at Tanjong Beach Club
Take the plunge
That's right, we had dinner inside the pool. I remember Kevin Lester (a.k.a. the rhyme spitting Lion City Boy) texting me a few days out just to clarify: "Hey, the invite says that it's a dining experience in the pool? Are we above the pool or are we really inside the pool with the water?" Translation: Do we need to bring swim gear? Yes, and no. Yes, we are dining inside the pool. And no, you don't need to bring your budgie smugglers because we've emptied the pool. Yup, we don't do things by halves at Buro.
What's it like to have dinner inside a pool? Watch the video below for a glimpse into the evening — including the Hugo Boss tie challenge where guests had to complete a perfect four-in-hand knot to win a necktie.
Already our third #BuroSocial dinner — conceived as a communal dining experience in an unexpected location with the sole purpose of connecting Singapore's cool creatives — the concept has grown from our first dinner in a co-working space, to then sharing a meal by a contemporary art installation within the Asian Civilisations Museum, to now eating seafood inside an empty pool. In short, it's about creating 'money can't buy' experiences.
And this latest #BuroSocial would not have been possible without our like-minded partners Tanjong Beach Club ("It's the first time we've ever done this!" revealed Tania Chan, marketing director for the Lo & Behold Group that manages the club) and Hugo Boss — who dressed our five handsome hosts for the evening: Mark De Winne (co-founder of Parable Studio); Joel Tan (founder of BBounce Studio and ex-national swimmer); Kevin Lester (a.k.a. Singapore's rapper, The Lion City Boy); Darren Lee (founder of UNIFORM and street style website SHENTONISTA); and Nat Ho (singer, actor, and this year's winner of our Buro Digital Award for Best Male Digital Influencer).
With the five male hosts each bringing friends from different industries, the seating plan for the #BuroSocial dinner was designed so that (hopefully) no one was sitting next to, or in front of, someone they already knew. Social engineering to make new friends — and to share life together — over a good meal. And as Steven Lam, managing director of Hugo Boss for Southeast Asia, talked about the changing face of men's fashion with a singer and stage producer on one end of the table; a church pastor discussed health and diet with a personal trainer at the other. Marvellous.
Treated to a coastal summer menu by Tanjong Beach Club that included freshly-shucked Fine de Claire oysters and succulent Maine lobsters to start, followed by lemongrass roast spring chicken with ginger carrot purée (a crowd favourite) served side-by-side with Angus tomahawk steaks and baked wild sea bream, guests savoured the evening slowly; washing down their cheesecakes and chocolate ice-cream desserts with red and white wines ordered through the drinks app BottlesXO, beer by Peroni Italy, as well as beach-inspired 'Copabanana' cocktails with Mount Gay Rum dreamt up by the mixologists at Tanjong Beach Club.
Illuminated by fairy lights supplied by Midnight Sparks, the sound of waves lapping onto shore in the background, and the faint briny smell of sea in the air; I pulled the five hosts aside to discuss the importance of taking risks — "taking the plunge", so to speak — in achieving their dreams and goals.
JOEL TAN, FOUNDER OF BBOUNCE STUDIO AND EX-NATIONAL SWIMMER
Tell us a time when you've taken a risk in your life?
When I left my comfortable job as a management consultant to start my own company. A huge part of my life was swimming — I used to be an ex-national swimmer — and it never really left me. I always knew that I'd go back to doing something in the fitness industry, so that's why I started BBounce Studio.
Tell us about BBounce Studio. Why is it different from other fitness studios in Singapore?
It is Singapore's first rebounding fitness studio. We focus on hybrid rebounding which involves doing exercises while you're both on and off the rebounder. It's good for your joints and it's also good for your lymphatic system, which helps make you look younger. And, of course, it is definitely fun.
When you took the risk to leave your management consultant job, there must have been an element of fear. What made you take the plunge?
To me, risk can simply be summarised into this statement: No venture, no gain.
What is your advice to others looking to change their careers but are afraid to take the plunge?
My advice is to take a calculated risk. You have to take a risk, but a calculated one. Who knows whether you'll succeed or not, you have to take the first step.
MARK DE WINNE, CO-FOUNDER OF PARABLE STUDIO
Tell us about a time when you took a big risk.
I think I took a big risk when I started up [concept and design company] Parable Studio with my business partner, Ken Yuktasevi. There were a lot of things happening at the time and, of course, there was uncertainty about whether Ken was the best person, what would we do, what work would we have. But I kind of feel like, with risks, you have to go for it. You can't be like, "I'm so scared" or whatever, you just have to plunge in, just jump into it, and believe that things will just work out. It's paid off. One and half years later, we're here. I haven't grown any new grey hairs, so it's all good.
What inspired you to start Parable Studio?
I think what inspired me to start up Parable Studio was the great friendship that I had with Ken — you have that certain amount of trust that, as great friends, you're going to stick it through together. We also have similar values and a shared belief that we can both make a real difference in design. We are both very passionate about people, and very passionate about telling people's stories.
How do you know when a risk is worth taking or not worth taking?
You don't know, you just have to take the risk! It's kind of like standing right before a bungee jump. If you don't jump, if you don't leap, you will never experience the thrill of it. I think every risk, there is a ride involved and there is some element of, you know, rush in that sense. I'm not saying just go out and do anything risky — you have to weigh up your options first. I prayed a lot. I felt that Parable Studio was something I could believe in and could see a future for. You just have a hunch. You just trust that hunch, and when you're in it, and crap happens, you dig extra deep to make it work.
Are you someone that likes taking risks or are you risk averse?
I used to be totally all about risk, but recently, after I started the company [content and branding studio THE UNIFORM] and we got more people on board, I am slightly more risk-averse now.
Why are you more risk averse now?
Because I really care about keeping the company afloat. I just want to make sure that everyone is taken care of. At the end of the day, that is the most important thing to me.
Do you think that, in order to run a successful company, you need to constantly take risks?
I think risks are unavoidable. I think sometimes you need to make a cautious decision to do it, but at the same time, everyone should be responsible when taking risks. I know it's kind of a contradiction, but you have to balance out what you really want in life and what's really important; that's critical.
What has been the biggest risk you've taken in your life so far?
Definitely setting up THE UNIFORM because everyone was all like, "No, it's not going to happen", "Everything is going to be really bad", "Your life is going to be terrible" — which is kind of true [laughs] — but at the same time, after doing it, you realise that even though you might not be making a lot of money, but based on the relationships we have, based on the people we meet, it's really awesome. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
KEVIN LESTER (a.k.a THE LION CITY BOY), RAPPER AND PRODUCER
Do you agree that there's always an element of risk to being an artist? You constantly have to evolve and do new things to take your music to the next level.
I think people would say being a rapper in Singapore is a big risk already. One of the things about evolving is that, as a music fan, you grow up with a band and when they progress to a big stage, you always think, "Ah, they've sold out! When they were less famous, they were much better." But you have to evolve as an artist, because you change as a person as well. When I first started out at Open Mics and joining various competitions, I was a different person. Now I have a family, so I tell different stories. It's important to grow with your fan base and make sure you tell the stories that they can understand, and that they can relate to. I'm been trying to focus on that and ensure that my stories are honest. It's hip-hop. You have to reflect the environment.
On the topic of new music, you just released an album called Paradise. What's the story there?
It's about the space that I was in. When I was writing this album, it was below a restaurant. And when this restaurant was overbooked, they would take my table and chairs. So everyday I had to set up my recording space all over again; but it was enough for me, it was my "paradise". And now as I progress to this next stage, where all these cool opportunities are happening because of the album, there will be new stories to tell from that perspective. I think it's important to keep sharing my journey with people.
Do you think you're someone that likes taking risks?
Love taking risks! The more risks the better! [laughs] No, I really think so, you know. That thrill, that adrenaline rush, has always attracted me. Maybe that's why I've landed myself into this space in Singapore as a rapper. And that extra thrill of doing something that is based on my own decisions; I'm quite addicted to it. I mean, if I can make a career out of this — make a journey, make an adventure — it's a pretty cool life to live.
NAT HO, SINGER AND ACTOR
Tell us a time when you've taken a plunge; taken a risk.
One of the times I've really taken a risk in my career was when I left Singapore to go to Taiwan. My Taiwanese friends actually asked me, "You're doing well in Singapore, what made you give up everything to come here and start from scratch? No one knows who you are here." But to me it was simple. I told myself, if I could go to Taiwan and start from scratch again, come back with something, then that meant, hey, you know, I do have what it takes. I wasn't just lucky in Singapore. And that was a very empowering moment for me. It was a hunch that I did not regret taking.
What would you advise others who are considering taking a risk now?
I would say just do it. Of course, it has to be a calculated risk. You know, you don't jump in blind. Make sure you have some financial back-up and plans in place. But other than that, just do it, because you are only young once. What really pushes me to take risks is the "what if?" I don't want to be like 50 years old one day and look back on my life and go, "What if I had taken that risk?" I don't want to think: What if I had done that thing I had really wanted to do but didn't dare to do because, you know, society is really conservative or it wasn't what was expected of me or whatever. Just do it. Don't regret.
Do you consider yourself as someone who likes taking risks?
I'm definitely a risk-taker. In person, I'm a little bit mellow and mild, but I am crazy when it comes to taking risks because I believe in living life to the fullest. And, if you want to do something, just set your mind to it, make a decision, and go all out for it. I'm sure you'll get something out of it.
Check back every Monday for another @MusingMutley column from Norman Tan, Editor-in-Chief of Buro 24/7 Singapore. Read more columns from @MusingMutley.
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- Video: Justin Chen
- Image: Robin Thang
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