Meet Tampines' Dancing King
He has danced his way into his golden years, and is showing no signs of slowing down as he continues to contribute to the vibrancy and youthful enthusiasm of the Tampines community. Mr. Roland Chua Kim Seng, 73, more affectionately known as Uncle Roland, has become one of the familiar faces of Tampines after six years of busking outside the MRT station.
Dancing was not something the former mariner picked up forbusking’s sake. His passion for dancing goes way back. When he was younger, he began developing an interest in dance after attending the tea dances that were popular in Singapore at the time. Back then, he did not know how to dance so he simply moved his body along with the music. He began putting in effort to remember the types of dances that suited different kind of music, after he got teased for not dancing properly. Today, hehas mastered up to 46 different styles of dance, and is even able to do head spins.
“I didn’t have a teacher. I was my own teacher.”
One of the simple joys that Uncle Roland derives from dancing in public is seeing how his performances bring happiness to everyone passing by. His likeable presence extends beyond his usual spot between Tampines 1 and the MRT station. When people see him on the streets, they approach him in surprise and ask him what he was doing there. His identity as the Tampines Dancing Uncle is so iconic to heartlanders that it might strike some as strange to see him going about his everyday life doing common daily activities. “I don’t just dance, you know,” Uncle Roland says. “I do head outside to eat, go for strolls, I even shop too!”
Not only has he won the hearts of Tampines residents, people from across the country and even from abroad have made the trip down to Tampines to catch Uncle Roland in action. A family of five who live in Jurong West travelled the distance just to show their support for him, the dancing uncle who danced his way onto the big and small screens. Some young Australians who told him that they have seen his dance footage at a shopping mall in their country also popped by to dance with him while on a trip to Singapore . A heartwarming video of this special moment can be found online.
“I can say that I have brought Singapore to international fame,” he says.
During the years he has been dancing in Tampines, Uncle Roland has been given a variety of interesting nicknames. To some, he is known as ‘Tampines Uncle’. To others, he is their ‘Dancing King’. To Uncle Roland, who has already attracted a small but ardent fanbase, Tampines feels like home. When he does not turn up to busk according to his usual schedule, he gets approached the next day with friendly jests from supporters who missed his lively music and sprightly dance moves. “Tampines residents are like brothers and sisters to me. Every day, familiar faces smile and donate some money. It feels like we are very close, almost as if we are family”, he says.
Perhaps it is because of the warm and friendly residents, that Uncle Roland can confidently say that, of all the locations he has danced at, Tampines remains his all-time favourite. “It’s never about the place, it’s always about the people.”