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The Hangar was Singapore's first gay pub-cum-disco located in a hard-to-find offshoot from Upper East Coast Road near Bedok. It was operational from the 1970s to the early 1980s.

One had to trudge along a length of unpaved road up a mild slope to gain access to the bar, which was housed in a whitewashed, relatively linear, cluster of elongated, small, single-storey bungalows known as The Summit Hotel. However, for those who drove, parking (albeit illegal) was easy to find along the slope. If this area was full of cars, they could just as conveniently park on the opposite side of Upper East Coast Road as it was then just a patch of undeveloped grassy land and not where one finds the complex of condominiums, such as Bayshore Park, that exists today.

The Summit Hotel was probably a clump of former colonial bungalows which was converted into a budget hotel to cater to Caucasian and Asian visitors. Today, a condominium called The Summit sits in its place.

The Hangar contained a lovely courtyard garden with a small pool. This nook was a welcome retreat where the loud music did not penetrate and where patrons could actually hold conversations after a bout of energetic dancing.

The patrons of the Sunday-only gay disco were Westerners as well as locals, although its existence was not very widely known. Due to its relatively secluded location, the clientele tended to be more bold and intimate in their behaviour compared to corresponding establishments in town. Looking back, some customers presently in their late fifties could not imagine how they could have grooved to the now seemingly uncool hits of that era like 'Beautiful Sunday' by Daniel Boone. Drag queen shows were sometimes held on Sundays.

In centrally located nightspots like Pebble Bar, which was Singapore's iconic gay bar of the 1970s and 1980s, men were initially prohibited by the police and discouraged by the management from dancing with each other. But since discos like The Hangar and Marmota was far from the city area and less likely to attract the public's attention, male-male dancing was tolerated.

A Singaporean who visited the place in the 1980s, near the time of its closure, recalls that it had the atmosphere of a cheap disco for the working class where patrons could just buy one drink and sit or dance for a long time. During a change of proprietorship, he was introduced to a couple of shareholders who actually, coincidentally, worked in the hangar of some engineering company![1]

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This article was written by Roy Tan.

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