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Open Call: “Mambo Jambo” documentary film project needs you!

If you were born in the 70s and 80s, you will clearly remember Wednesday night in the 90s the night to congregrate at 17 Jiak Kim Street with your Uni-classmates for Mambo night. A dance culture most treasured and remembered by many Singaporeans , Mambo Jambo featured retro music such as Bananarama’s Love in the First Degree, Jason Donovan’s Too Many Broken Hearts and Rick Astley’s Together forever.

Those who frequent Mambo Jambo will know it’s not just about the music, but singing out loud to the chorus and dancing with hands coordinations to the tunes with your friends. For two decades, the themed night Mambo Jambo, then known as Mambo night to many, filled up the dance floor with 70s and 80s pop tunes, till it held it last night in mid 2012. Now leaving us with memories of our youth.

Dave Tan, known to a generation of music lovers as the songwriter and front man of Electrico, is now picking up the camera too. The artist has embarked on an independent film project to immortalize the legendary Mambo Jambo night at Zouk.

“Mambo Jambo is one of very few iconic phenomenons that is 100% local, and touched a generation of youth. In its history are countless stories to tell and it deserves to be documented in a comprehensive and entertaining way.”

Mambo Jambo was the longest running club night in the world, running weekly consecutively for 21 years. And in the process became cultural phenomenon in Singapore, and a rite of passage for thousands of young Singaporeans.

“I used to go religiously, and saw it evolve over the years. While outsiders might assume it was just a night where people synchronize in dance to retro music, Mambo Jambo embodied much more. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been the phenomenon it was, and wouldn’t have lasted so many years. There is a really interesting set of stories surrounding this piece of our history, and I want to tell it in this film…”

Making the film has been a dream of Dave’s since 2010, he just recently left his position at MTV Networks to focus on the project full­time.

“When Zouk leaves its current premises, it will truly be an end of an era. Its imperative that we finish filming in the original location, and it’s an appropriate part of our SG50 celebrations. As such, I’ve taken time off from my other work, to focus on finishing this. Hopefully in time for this year’s Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) if not for the next.”

Mambo Jambo” documentary film project calling for photos, video, and other memorabilia

Mambo Jambo” documentary film project calling for photos, video, and other memorabilia

As the project begins to take shape, there are still some significant challenges ahead which include funding of the film. Ironically, the application for SG50 funding for this project was declined and Dave has self­funded the project to date, but is planning a crowdfunding campaign, launching next month, to help cover costs.

“I am fortunate to have great support from Zouk and others who are also passionate about seeing this film get made. I don’t intend to make money on this project, to me it’s simply a film that needs to be made. But, there are filming and production costs for which I hope those whose lives were touched by Mambo over the years will help to cover.” Dave Tan

Another challenge Dave faces is the need for archive material to help support the film’s editorial journey. The majority of Mambo Jambo’s run pre­dated widespread adoption of smartphone cameras and portable video recorders. While the production team continues to collect stories to tell about that era, they’re uncovering less footage of Mambo nights than they’d like.

The artist is requesting to you to contribute your photos, clippings, flyers, posters, or even video of their old Mambo Jambo experiences, to the success of this iconic documentary. And the older the material the better! So submit in your memories taken at Mambo Jambo and let it be immortalised into the film.

Dave and his team are planning a live filming event at Zouk later this year, which will serve as the finale scene to the film and reunite the generations of Mambo Jambo punters, in what Dave hopes, will be the biggest Mambo night ever.

Says Dave, “At the end of the day, this is a film to document something truly iconic in Singapore’s pop culture history. An archive that all Singaporeans can share, and future generations can be inspired by.”

Says Zouk’s Head of Marketing and Events, Sofie Chandra, “Mambo Jambo was such a huge part, and rite of passage, for many who have lived the Zouk experience, it was the entry point into the Zouk family for most 18 year olds and the fact that it took on such a life of its own and became what it was, is testament to how colourful and special the night truly was. We’re really happy that Dave has chosen to bring it life on film, and we support his efforts to making this film a success.”

Dave Tan

If you have photos, video, or stories that you’d like to share, or you’d just like to be kept up to date about filming events and progress of the project, please visit their website at or email Dave at [email protected].

The objective of the film is targeted to be complete in time for the 2016 Singapore International Film Festival. A private screenings will be held for contributors and donors. Dave is also setting up the film’s up coming crowd funding campaign which should be up this coming June 2015. Any contributor whose material is used in the film will be acknowledged by name in the credits. All contributors will be thanked in general.

And coincidentally, Zouk will also be hosting a one-night-only Mambo Jambo night, this coming Sunday, 31st May. So grab your friends and love ones and head down to 17 Jiak Kim street and relive your Mambo nights.

Credit: images by OSG photography

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About Artitute (319 Articles)
Online magazine that promotes and markets Southeast Asia’s established and emerging visual artists and it’s art scenes. And a stepping stone for young aspiring visual artists to showcase their works to the world.
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