It’s a cool afternoon at the Deck, where I’m scheduled to meet the newly crowned King and Queen of Arts Bash, Weirong and Janella.
Organised by the Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FASS), the Arts Bash is a popular, annual pageant contest, which brings together 10 freshie contestants to compete for the (non-literal) crown. The Arts King and Queen then go on to become the faculty’s representatives for the coming year.
Before long, I spot 20-year-old Janella – tall, slim and fair-skinned, with long wavy hair and a smile on her face. When we introduce ourselves, I notice that she’s a lot more dynamic in person. 21-year-old Weirong joins us a while later – he too is tall, and well-built, looking very well-groomed. It’s not hard to see why they’ve emerged from the pageant with the coveted titles of King and Queen: they look every inch the part.
Yet the pair actually hadn’t expected to win – in fact Janella tells us that there was no clear predictions before the Bash, which took place in front of a 500-strong audience last Saturday (15 August) at Zouk.
Janella, who’s considering majoring in either Communications & New Media or Social Work, is a sweet, humble girl with a friendly disposition.
“Honestly speaking, I was really shocked. I think when they announced my name, all my friends were just laughing at me because my mouth was just like (drops jaw). I really didn’t think it would be me!”
On the other hand, Weirong, who is majoring in Economics, is more reserved. He tells us that he plans to join softball or dance in Temasek Hall, where he’s currently staying.
“Nothing like we expected”
So, how did these two get involved in Arts Bash?
“Basically some seniors will scout you out and choose you, and then you decide whether you want to join,” Weirong says. And since he had never taken part in something like this before, his mentality was: “Just try lah.”
On the other hand, Janella joined it to make new friends. “I guess it’s because they portrayed it as a very friendly environment.”
While joining a beauty pageant may sound daunting, the duo tell us it was nothing like that.
“I expected the competition to be very tough, but everybody was friendly,” says Weirong.
In fact, Arts Bash wasn’t so much a competition as it was an opportunity for people to “have a good time, enjoy themselves and work hard together to do each other proud,” as Janella phrases it.
(The Arts Bash Project Director, Trevor, also tells us that the Bash was intended to be a collective group effort, with everyone celebrating each other’s wins, no matter who won which titles.)
Janella goes on to add, “I know the common perception of pageants are that they are just some beauty contest or aesthetic contest, but I don’t think it’s like that. From what I’ve heard from my seniors who chose the contestants, they choose people not just based on looks but they also base it a lot on personality, [like] whether they are nice people or have a friendly vibe.”
But it wasn’t all just fun and games – the contestants also had to undergo intense physical training to prepare themselves for Bash. This included training up to four times a week, as well as Tabata workout regimes, a type of high-intensity interval training. They also spent time learning how to catwalk and pose with confidence.
Having spent all this time together, it explains why they seem so at ease in each other’s presence, almost like old friends.
When I asked them about their initial impressions of each other, they laughed, Janella prodding (or daring) Weirong to be honest.
“At first I thought she [might be] very bitchy, like those [who] talk bad about people behind their backs. But now, not really lah. She’s different, and not what I expected her to be, in a good way.”
As for Weirong, Janella’s first impression of him as a “very comical person” was right. “He turned out to be a major guailan king [annoying] who’s always insulting everyone, but he always makes everyone laugh lah!”
Handling their newfound fame
After almost a week of being crowned King and Queen, has anyone recognised the two… or have they had to deal with any paparazzi yet?
Weirong jokingly says that “a few” people might’ve recognised him, although he doesn’t take it very seriously.
Janella laughs, “Usually it’s just your friends that will guailan [annoy] you and laugh at you about it.”
Regardless of whatever attention they’re receiving, the duo are grateful for the support they got during the Bash event. This is what the Arts King & Queen had to say:
Weirong: “Thank you to all for coming down, especially my hall people from Temasek Hall. Majority of them came down to support me, [which] I appreciate very much. I heard random cheers also from people I don’t know, so I also want to thank them.”
Janella: “Thank you so much for spending your time and money to come and support me. I really appreciate everyone of you who bothered to see the performances. I hope you guys enjoyed the dances and I hope you had a great night!”
Want to find out more about the Bash winners from the different faculties?