Guide To Somerset In The 2000s
The year is 200X. Location: Singapore. You are a teenager with a fair bit of time, an equal amount of zits, but alas, no money.
This is the guide you wish you had when you were a teen.
Located in the heart of Orchard and conveniently accessible through Somerset MRT station, for those seeking purpose in life, exploring their identity as they navigate the ugly reality that is puberty, or even just looking for a date spot: this was where teens wanted to see and be seen.
Take a trip back in time with us to find out why.
For an affordable way to keep up with fashion trends, look no further than 77th Street at Heeren for all your clothing needs or even piercings.
Even though piercings are banned in schools, teens would simply place a transparent piercing or not wear one at all while at school, before swapping them out for more noticeable designs after school.
Remember those chains dangling off your jeans? They probably bought that at 77th Street too, along with any other streetwear one could possibly imagine.
The pursuit of fashion often involves sacrificing comfort for a sense of belonging, especially in a pre-Instagram era.
Back then, the ones being impressed wouldn’t be nameless, faceless strangers you’d never meet, but nameless strangers on the streets of Orchard.
Heeren was also home to a substantial amount of Neoprint machines – the decorative pictures girlfriends would take.
These pictures, cringy yet a reminder of one’s more carefree past, are a must during outings as keepsakes.
Now we can do photo-ops and change out of our clothes without taking a single step out of our houses.
For a true display of youth culture in the flesh, one cannot miss Orchard Cineleisure, with its abundant outdoor space adjacent to the skate park, which was much smaller than it is now.
Cineleisure is where the kids would go – be it for after school movies at the cinema, or Friday night hangouts with other skaters.
Cheap food? There’s KFC and a food court.
Trendy shoes on a budget? Cineleisure has those.
Even the Famous Amos strategically located close to the entrance is synonymous with the Cineleisure experience.
Different youths from all walks of life would hang around the benches – maybe to wait for their date, or have a place to consume their finger food.
Somerset Skate Park
Close to Cineleisure is the place where skaters converge from all over Singapore in their characteristic skate wear – Thrasher t-shirts before everyone who definitely weren’t skaters started co-opting them, cargo shorts or skinny jeans, DC shoes, and of course their trusty and well-worn skateboards.
Want to unleash your inner creativity on a wall? Good luck finding a canvas for your work here as the walls are already so filled with graffiti that any trace of the concrete’s natural colour – like the hair of many skaters who populate the skate park – has become shrouded in a multi-colour coat of spraypaint.
New initiatives being rolled out for youths in Somerset Belt
So HMV and 77th Street are gone, as have the Neoprint machines. Heeren caters to a markedly different demographic these days.
While we can’t bring these things back, an initiative looking at revamping the Somerset area wants your input on what should be included in this space in the future.
Led by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Shape Your Somerset is an initiative that calls for youths to share their ideas on what they hope to see within the Somerset Belt.
The Somerset Belt consists of the area around *SCAPE, stretching through The Red Box and Tripleone Somerset, and ending behind the Somerset Skate Park.
There are some interesting ideas, such as a technologically-advanced space blended with nature which will include multipurpose pavillions for performances or resting, as well as interactive sensor shelters.
Another cool idea proposed is an air-conditioned indoor space next to the Somerset Skate Park, where we can simultaneously recharge after practicing some tricks and admire your crush doing their thing.
Personally, I’d like to see more outdoor spaces for people to hang out while events related to music occur. Some of them exist around the city but rarely in an area where anything else is happening.
But we want your suggestions and thoughts as well, so you can head down to the Shape Your Somerset Facebook page to check out other cool concepts and leave your comments on them!
New memories are just waiting to be made in this space.
This post is brought to you in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY).