SINGAPORE 60's: ANDY's POP MUSIC INFLUENCE IS A PERSONAL MUSIC, MEMORY TRAIL. BLOGGER DOES NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO VIDEOS, AUDIO TRACKS AND IMAGES. THEY ARE UPLOADED FOR FUN, EDUCATIONAL, ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES AND HAVE BEEN CREDITED. BLOG IS NOT SPONSORED IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER. INFORM BLOGGER OF COPYRIGHT ISSUES AND POST WILL BE DELETED IMMEDIATELY. ANDY LIM LA (NOVEMBER, 2008).
Sunday, October 30, 2011
West Point Gardens Pasir Panjang: When Fairyland Beckons: Singapore 50s Music
Dance and Pop Band Venues in the 50s:
I remember when I was in my early twenties being chauffeur driven in the night in an Opel Record (image 3) to *West Point Gardens. A good friend had suggested that we experienced the place and I agreed.
To the uninitiated West Point was a distance away from the Orchard Road belt of nightclubs, dance floors, lounges, pubs and bars. From its name description, it was also on the west end of Singapore compared to another music hot spot, the more populated east coast.
So it was the first time in my life that I went there and as we were approaching the area under cover of trees, shrubs and near darkness, I could hear faintly the music and noticed the glow of fluorescent lighting.
When I came out of the car I was pleasantly surprised to see that West Point Gardens was a fairyland in the woods. And as Peter Chan explained: "One thing I cannot forget was the strings of multicoloured light bulbs hung across the garden." Don't forget it was the beginning of the 60s and as a young 'un-everything seemed bright and beautiful to me.
West Point Gardens had been in existence since the early 50s and was patronised by the well-heeled Caucasians and locals to dine and dance. The main attraction was a circular open-air area that had a bandstand, a cafe with chairs and tables at its peripheral, guarding the precious dance floor jealously, allowing only the selected to tread. During high-tide evenings I was told, betwixt the music, one could hear the lapping waves from the sea besides.
Doli Tupaz and his Hawaiian Rhythm Kings (image 2) were the resident bands at the Gardens since the 50s and the 1955 photographs above show Anthony Danker, Doli Tupaz, G. Mani, Jimmy Tupaz and William Frois.
The other line-up (image 1) included Charles Danker and Horace Oliveiro. Their repertoire of popular hits from the 30s onwards took them to royalty status indeed! Samba, rhumba, mambo and grass-skirt, palm-tree swaying music filled the Pasir Panjang air. Sliding guitar, ukelele maracas combinations were the order of the day.
After the 50s and during the Singapore garage band (locally known as kampong bands) explosion, these swing bands were taken over by the more youthful guitar gangs, as they ambled in rapaciously with their portables and colourful Hofners, plugging them into their black box amplification. And as the solid bass guitar replaced the booming double-bass a new era was born; anyone could jive, twist, shake and rattle on the floor as West Point Gardens changed its tune.
*NB: According to Peter Chan, whom I consulted to authenticate yesteryear locations in Singapore: "West Point is a condominium today. As one travels along old Pasir Panjang Road near the junction with Clementi Road, there is an old house which was Kwa Geok Choo's family house during pre-WWII. One door away was a police station (maybe a carpark now), then a condominium. That place was West Point Gardens.
I passed by that place very often in my father's car in the 1960s as we took the West Coast Road over a road bridge to Boon Lay before turning into Old Jurong Road. West Point had an old Peranakan type bungalow raised on legs.
There was a large garden and the beach was in front - today's longkang (exceptionally large monsoon drain) - between West Coast Highway and those old houses."
Images 1, 2: National Heritage Board Singapore Website. Image 3: Google. Information: (1) Peter Chan's distinctive recollection of West Point and (2) Ms E. Chua, her Opel Record and chauffeur. Original article: Andy Lim Collection.