Float your woes away... in a tank
SINCE December, more than 100 people from all walks of life - among them couples, a national athlete and a local celebrity - have streamed into an unassuming semi-detached house in Siglap.
There, they pay for the opportunity to strip off their clothes and immerse themselves in a darkened pool of saltwater kept at the soothing temperature of 33.5 deg C.
Welcome to the Palm Avenue Float Club.
This is no ordinary pool, but a floatation or isolation tank. Those who have heard about the place through word of mouth are partaking in a ritual known as sensory deprivation, or "floating".
The concept is said to have many mental and physical benefits, such as increased relaxation, improved sleep and injury relief.
MyPaper understands this is the only floatation tank open for use to the public here. The tank measures around 2m by 1.8m, and is filled with about 30cm of water, in which 550kg of epsom salts have been dissolved.
Mr Derrick Foo, who owns the tank and lives in the house with his mother, said that he decided to purchase the tank after going on a "floatation vacation" in Taiwan in September.
The 26-year-old practises muay thai and Brazilian jiu jitsu, and had decided to try floating after hearing of its popularity among mixed martial artists.
"I fell in love with the euphoric feeling I got when I got out of the tank," Mr Foo, a final-year student at the National University of Singapore, told MyPaper last month. He added that it also curbed his urge to smoke.
To ensure a high standard of hygiene, appointments are staggered, to allow the tank's filtration system to remove any dirt or hair left behind by clients.
The high concentration of salt and addition of hydrogen peroxide also kill any bacteria. Floaters must shower and shampoo in an en-suite bathroom prior to entering the tank, Mr Foo said.
Though he declined to reveal exact figures, he said he spent "enough for the downpayment of a car" on the tank and its shipping cost from Taiwan.
Although he charges $65 for an hour of floating, or $80 for 90 minutes, Mr Foo does not consider the Club a business just yet, but rather a "test-bed" for the concept.
He is looking for funding for his project, which he hopes to eventually turn into a physical "float club" with two such tanks, in the future.
Some of the money earned, for instance, has been pumped into a "pop-up gig" featuring two local bands at a neighbourhood kopitiam last month, to raise awareness about the trend.
"I just want to connect with people in a very positive way, and show them what floating is all about," he said.
Singaporean DJ and producer Niko Alphonso, 25, first floated in New York City and has since floated several times at Palm Avenue, for up to three hours at a time.
"The biggest draw for me is the fact that there is really no environment like this anywhere else... you can shut off everything and have zero distractions."
He added: "For me, it is like a reset button for my mind."