I’m sitting on the grass at UTown Green, and the freshies hit the final pose of the choreography. The cheer of the crowd finally overcomes the sound of music, and I lose it. Behind the 7 minute performance was an effort 7 weeks in the making. A journey that initially started off hot and heavy, where the initial excitement propelled us to finish teaching choreo within 2 weeks. A journey that peaked after the first preview for NUSSU but stagnated after and digressed into ennui. A journey where spontaneous crying and trauma dumping became an everyday occurrence. A journey of the most challenging yet most rewarding 7 weeks of my life.
The highlight of RAG and FLAG is the live performance – electronic dance music blasting in your face from close range, the sensory overload of colours, lights, cardboard and acrylic paint complimented by the art of dance. This was how I first experienced RAG in 2019 at Bishan Park. My own RAG in 2021 was fruitful, but nonetheless a watered down version of the real thing. COVID guidelines stripped away the opportunity to perform in person, and the final product was a music video that was aired on YouTube. Unsatisfied, I seized the opportunity to choreograph and instruct as the Dance Head in 2022.
The theme for this year was “Against All Odds”, words that came to define not only the story that was told on stage, but also the journey that got us there. My nights leading up to the start of practices in June were spent dreaming of what was to be. But soon after RAG started, sweet dreams morphed into nightmares of blockings and formations. One particularly turbulent night was spent tossing and turning as I tried to memorise the names of freshies whom I had just met the previous day. On the other hand, the floats committee spent countless sleepless nights in Block B working on construction of floats and sewing costumes. I still remember convincing Brian, our Operations Head, to join the committee by saying that it was “chill” and “fun”. Over the weeks, paint accumulated under fingernails, the moot court gradually took on the scent of Salonpas, the taste of Pad Thai from Hom Aroy grew bland and the wails of “Like a G6” haunted our sleep. Despite these new hells, I came to recognise the few things that kept us together – camaraderie, friendship, sewing thread and masking tape.
Admittedly, I was worried about the results. It took the words of one of my freshies to ground me back to earth. “Eh, getting Gold in Law RAG cannot put on your portfolio one, cannot get training contract one.” It was a comment uttered in jest, yet it did hold a grain of truth. Whichever award we attained could not come to define the time and energy that were spent so readily into those 7 weeks. Ultimately, RAG and FLAG was a competition, where the performances of the participating bodies were arbitrarily assigned labels named after some expensive metals. Although the final performance was graded “silver”, the memories, hard work and dedication of everyone involved was Gold.
Moving on is difficult, which in part explains the fractured nature of this narrative. The memories, good and bad, come in waves; which makes it difficult to concentrate on the Company law reading list. It has been a few days after the final performance on 6th August, and I still comb through the telegram chat, rewatching videos of old choreography and failed stunts attempts. Perhaps by writing in this manner, I was subconsciously trying to recreate the seemingly arbitrary passage of time during those 7 weeks. Alternatively, it is equally possible that I am simply struggling to translate such a formative experience into mere words. RAG is a magnificent event, with several dimensions that are all equally worthy of coverage. Charity, dance, performance, engineering, acting, storytelling. But above all, RAG is an orientation event where freshies hope to forge new friendships and create good memories. My greatest hope is that as a senior, I have impacted some of their lives in this way. Thank you to my fellow comm members, thank you to the seniors that supported us along the way, and thank you to this special group of freshmen. Motivation is fleeting, but Law RAG is forever.