The surprising Singapore crane dance

What if I told you I was resting down by the harbour in Singapore when what I thought was a piece of industrial equipment transformed into a pair of giant mechanical cranes?

You’d think I was crazy, right? That I had been travelling too long and was out of my mind as a result?

It’s fortunate, then, that I managed to get photographs of what should be called “the surprising Singapore crane dance at Sentosa”.

The Singapore crane dance beginsThere I was, minding my own business down on the Singapore waterfront, reading a book and just recuperating from a fun-filled day exploring Sentosa (soon to be featured here at Man vs World).

My girlfriend, Nicola, was snoring next to me when, without warning, they transformed into life.

Two giant hydraulic-powered birds, with razor fins on their backs, sharp metallic beaks and giant dead-looking eyes. Naturally, I had to wake Nicola up.

As she awoke with a startle, the birds, which until that moment had been just standing there, started to dance.

One Singapore crane looks at another's insidesAt least I found out later that that was what they were doing.

On the large screens on their chest – which I hadn’t noticed until that moment – a video started playing. First it showed clips of what, I guessed, was their inner-workings, which gradually manifested into all sorts of strange images.

Meanwhile, their eyes flashed different colours. Purple, red, light blue, navy, yellow and then back to purple again. Were we hallucinating? No, a crowd started to gather behind us – everyone looking just as puzzled as us.

Now, I’m no ornithologist, zoologist or veterinarian but I do believe those two birds fell in love. I’m not sure how I know this – the videos were kind of hard to follow, except for the flashing image of what looked like a mechanical heart springing into life as the cranes kissed.

The Singapore crane dance at SentosaSchmaltzy, I know. But it was also utterly and completely random. Was it art or just a very expensive, futuristic tourism gimmick? I’m still trying to work it out.

That’s Singapore for you. The city-state may project a very serious, staid and conservative exterior, but underneath the place is just as kooky and high-spirited as its South East Asian neighbours.

How’s that for a strange travel story?


Here’s a video I pulled from YouTube of the Singapore crane dance show at Sentosa:


About Simon Petersen 506 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.


  1. Simon,

    I was trhe lead mechanical engineer on the design of those two birds (designed by McLaren Engineering Group in NY). I was wondering if it would be OK with you if I used one of those photos in a business card?


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