Haul 'em down, you Zulu Warrior was a song chanted by visiting Caucasian sailors, especially from Australia and New Zealand, to accompany the Dance of the Flaming Arseholes performed by their compatriots on the roof of an infamous public toilet at Bugis Street when the latter was a congregation point for Singaporean transwomen from the 1950s to the mid-1980s.
The Dance of the Flaming Arseholes or Dance Of The Flamers was one of the ritualistic "hallowed traditions" bestowed upon the Bugis Street area by sojourning sailors, especially from Australia and New Zealand, when the vicinity was a congregation point for transgender women from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. It was held on the roof of the infamous public toilet there.
The performers' compatriots on the ground would chant the signature "Haul 'em down, you Zulu Warrior" song for "musical accompaniment" whilst the matelots performed their act either completely naked or with their trousers and underwear removed. The dance was carried out after stuffing one end of a length of toilet or any rolled-up piece of paper into the dancer's anus while the other end was set aflame (see videos of modern iterations:,,,,).
Origin of song
A slight variation of the sailors' vocal accompaniment, "Haul 'em down, you Zulu Warrior", is performed in the following video by a veteran serviceman. This version is entitled, "Hold 'em down, Zulu warrior" but the tune is exactly the same:
Over the years this became almost a mandatory exercise and although it may seem to many to be a gross act of indecency, it was generally well received by the throng of sometimes up to hundreds of tourists and locals who crowded outside the toilet to witness the spectacle. The kai tais or beanie boys, as the transwomen were referred to by Anglophone white visitors, certainly did not mind either. By the mid-1970s, Singapore started a crackdown on this type of lewd behaviour and sailors were arrested at gunpoint by the local authorities for upholding the tradition. By this time those sailors brave enough to try it were dealt with severely and even shipped home in disgrace.
In one instance, reported in The Straits Times on 23 March 1974, two Australian sailors were arrested for indecent exposure at Bugis Street on Sunday morning, 17 March 1974. The sailors, from the destroyer "HMAS Vendetta" which was in Singapore for naval exercises, caused a furore when they stripped and performed the dance on the roof of the public toilet. An ANZUK spokesman said that officers from Beach Road police station arrested the pair and handed them over to the military police. They were subsequently sent to the captain of the destroyer for disciplinary action.
Recreation of dance in Bugis Street (the movie)
Yonfan, the Hong Kong director of the movie Bugis Street, attempted to recreate the iconic Dance of the Flaming Arseholes in his film. However, since the original toilet had been demolished during the redevelopment of Bugis Street in the mid-1980s, he used a contemporary building at New Bugis Street as a substitute. Unfortunately, the building was not an exact replica of the original and the Caucasian actors merely mooned at the audience in the movie instead of actually inserting a roll of paper into their anuses and setting it alight.
This article was written by Roy Tan.