Monday, February 02, 2009

Ocean Park Hotel 60s - A Time To Dine & Dance

Ocean Park Hotel was another rendezvous for both fans and bands alike. Many commercial organisations in the 60s held their yearly Dinner & Dance at the hotel dance floor. Situated near St. Patrick's School at East Coast Road, the hotel attracted many people during its weekend dance sessions.
I remember making an appearance there for a grand show in December 1963 where Cyril Pereira was the MC for the night. The CheckMates, Cyclones, Eunice Sim, Henry Suriya, David Baskaran and other personalities were in the lineup. It was sponsored by Hitachi.

Where are these people now?
Image: National Heritage Board; Alec Audley 1;

Article In Full:

Ocean Park Hotel: Rehearsal To Reality Dec 1963.

Ocean Park Hotel Dinner & Dance Venue was held at an open concert hall where the sea breeze, cool evening and great entertainment made it a memorable night for many patrons, guests and performers.

It was situated at Upper East Coast Road near the present St. Patrick's School and Jackie's Bowl, one of the first few bowling alleys in the 60s. Andy Young is seen singing to Susan during a rehearsal for an end of year dinner and dance at the hotel. It was held on December 21st, 1963.

The practice song was Paul Anka's Diana as Andy had to sing it to Susan that evening. The song became Andy's signature tune whenever he appeared during the many variety shows held in the 1960's. All this came about before he joined the Velvetones and the Silver Strings. 
Partying at Ocean Park Hotel. Image by Mun Chor Seng
For the show that evening, Andy was accompanied by Robert Suriya and his band, one of the groups that performed. Both Robert and Henry Suriya came from St. Andrew's School so they were familiar faces then. Were they known as The Boys already? Naomi wasn't present that night.

Called the Queen of Queens Grand Finale, the other guest artistes included MC Siri Perera, The Checkmates, Kiss Me Quick singer David Baskaran, Siva and James Choy better known as the Cyclones, talentime winner and jazz specialist Eunice Sim, Singapore cowpoke Henry Suriya (he came well before Matthew Tan) and the 60's version of cross-dresser Kumar, Ms Percy Leceister.

Percy could wow the crowd with his shimmy, songs and sensuality. The crowd would get very excited when Percy appeared as they would shout his name and clapped whenever he did his Latin dance routines on stage to the beat of bongo drums and the maracas.
It was organised by Hitachi and a fashion house. The night was hauntingly frightful because a pontianak and vampire were roaming around the nightclub, disturbing the young ladies... Remember it was late 1963 and the bands and singers were just blooming.

Because there was hardly any entertainment in the evenings back then and the usual sophisticates could not adapt themselves to the crowd at the Happy World in Geylang, many Katongnites, Siglapians, the Peranakans and Eurasians would patronise these dances during the weekends. Because such an activity came few and far between, a night like this one practically drew the East Coast Road population to Ocean Park.

As Elvis would say it in one of his songs, Such A Night!
Image 1/original article: Andy Lim Collection.
Image 2: by Mun Chor Seng.
Image 3: by

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