Hey, you may not know this. Not only were songs banned in Singapore in 1959 but a dance too. In the early years of Independence, saw the banning of The Twist, a dance fad from Western pop culture. As explained in an another *posting the Helen Shapiro/Billy Fury movie Play It Cool was banned because of its 'undesirable song and dance sequences'.
According to Wiki, The Twist's original inspiration came from the African American plantation dance called 'wringin' and twistin,' tracing back to the 1890s. However, its original aesthetic origins, using pelvic movement and the shuffling foot movement, could be traced to West Africa. Throughout the 20th Century, the dance evolved until it emerged to a mass audience in the 1960s.
So in Singapore, three other films which featured the dance were not allowed screenings. These movies were, Hey, Let's Twist, Twist Around The Clock and The Teenage Millionaire (images 1,2). This was a cinema clean-up because there was a policy that where books or films were detrimental to morals, they would be banned. Even juke boxes and pin-ball machines (image 3) were not allowed in Singapore. So what songs did we miss from all these movies?
Apparently not only were Western movies banned, even Mandarin and Japanese movies were taken off the list as part of the authorities' campaign against yellow culture which had caused the 'moral degeneration of our young'. Censorship by the Culture Ministry was significant between June 1959 and June 1960.
But don't forget dear readers, that this was a season when The Shadows/Ventures were just around the corner and the saxaphone, double-bass, piano and f-hole guitars were still in vogue. It was a season of change. And change we did, when common sense prevailed.
The ban did not last long as Chubby Checker's famous stance and dance movie posters (image 1) crowded the scene afterwards. Tables turned in February 1963 as Singapore's first recording stars **The Crescendos released Mr. Twister fronted by power voice Susan Lim. The group was such a hit that even Singapore's Minister for Culture, Mr. S. Rajaratnam accompanied them on their Malaysian tour a few months later. All's well that ends well.
Do you have similar stories to tell about Singapore's sixties music scene? Write in.
*Play It Cool Movie: http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2011/04/play-it-cool-movie-banned-in-our-local.html