The Long Bar

The thing about having drinks at the Long Bar at the Raffles, is that you can’t help but be self-conscious about the whole thing. So you start thinking about things like the fact that Asian customers weren’t allowed in the bar in colonial times — but how did the different Asian ethnicities rank in the grand colonial hierarchy of discrimination? Who was higher on the hierarchy of non-white races: the Chinese or the Indians? And what about people who were a mixed bag of Asian ethnic mixtures, like me — did they rank higher or lower than those of “pure” Asian blood?

Of course, looking around us, it would seem that it was indeed a throwback to colonial times because the bar staff notwithstanding, we were just about the only locals in the entire place. But I suspect most of the customers were tourists too — suitably armed with the Singapore Sling in all its blood-red glory — and that locals would only go there if their friends from overseas wanted to. After all, it’s not exactly an authentic Singapore experience — albeit, ironically, perhaps uniquely Singapore.

The other question on our minds was, how often do they sweep up the peanut shells from the floor, and is there a service standard for how much of the floor needs to be littered with them, for the “authentic” Long Bar look? Do they have some kind of guideline like, “make sure at least 70% of the room corners and 80% of the table areas are scattered with peanut shells”? At a certain point, do they simply sweep the whole lot out so that they know they aren’t accumulating germs from the last New Year’s Eve party?

Questions to ponder, while the fans sway rhythmically overhead…

The weirdest fans I've ever seen

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