Thursday, May 07, 2009

Ambassador Hotel As Lovers Move In Shadows


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The Ambassador Hotel, opposite Katong Park at Meyer Road near the East Coast beaches, was the rendezvous for lovers. The hotel had a roof garden, with Singapore 60s guitar groups or combo bands playing music by The Shadows, Cliff Richard, Elvis, The Beatles and other superstars.

Many combos and local bands used to entertain patrons in this hotel with "Wonderful Land", "Sleepwalk" or rebel rousers like, "Shindig", The Young Ones", "Guitar Boogie" and "Twist And Shout." Dancing under the stars was always the theme and youth had its days when the bands floored the dancers with both hot and cool music.
Sleepwalk the original Shadows version that reminds me of the sweet times we had at the Ambassador.

I remember going there with some good friends where we spent the evening over one or two drinks that cost about $6.00 a glass. My favourite drink is rum and coke, a drink I am told that attracts medical problems like diabetes. The ladies we came with were friends and colleagues that had come to support guest bands that played on a particular weekend.

There was an evening where we made floor space for the versatility of the Sunny Low Dancers, the slim young man with the built, grace and charm of Gene Kelly. This particular dance place or nightclub was on another floor in the hotel; correct me if I am wrong, the sixth floor if I remember.

Oh yes, Katong Park and the beach were downstairs and it was a slow, five-minute walk to seclusion and privacy. The hotel is gone now but the memories remain.
Image: National Heritage Board, Singapore.
Original article: Andy Young.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

How fab to find this photo of the Ambassador Hotel. As a child in the 1950s I lived next to the hotel at number 44.
I would lie in bed listening to the music coming from the roof, often in a language I didn’t understand (I’m English), enjoying it immensely. One of my other memories is when I would walk by the hotel on my way home from the school bus. The foyer doors were open and the sound of the juke box would waft out as I passed. I recall ‘Oh please stay by me Diana’ was that Paul Anka? That song should pin point the year.
I see from Google Earth that sadly the house and hotel no longer exist, nor the sea view we were lucky to have from our balcony.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Oh wow! Thank you for writing. It'll really be great if you could provide me an email address so I could write to you.

It was the 60s, since 'Diana' by Paul Anka was written in September 1957 and especially popular during that period.

I share the same feeling about that area. Again thanks for the memories.
Andy

Jackie said...

hi Andy, we lived there around 57/58. I have many memories of that time and would be pleased to exchange e-mails. how can i give you my e-mail privately? i don't want to attract loads of spam.
regards, Jackie

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sumiyati Salam said...

I saw this hotel in malay film. Madu Tiga :)

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Andy Young
Posted in 2009, still many romantic stories to tell. There were 2 nightclubs, if I remember. And SHADOWS fans, this one's for you too.

Irene Yap
I remember performing there in the 70s with a band called The Editions. Another local band backed the Chinese singers performing Mandarin songs for the diner crowd. The Editions performed for the later nightclub crowd! When the management found out I sing Mandarin songs I was asked to come in early to perform with the Chinese singers doing Mandarin Songs too. I got paid as a solo singer for the early set and another payment as part of the band! Thanks for the memories, Andy. You bring back places that are not around anymore yet not forgotten!!

Andy Young
Hi Irene, your memory is as sweet and wonderful as you are a pretty grand-mum. Thanks again for helping out with these gems of information about SG music and your exciting music career those years. Must meet again for kopi with Fred...

Rose Khoo
My marketing dept love this place...we had a few dept dinners there esp they hv live band playing English sings n a dance floor.
Also known as Duke Hotel in later yrs

Andy Young
Hi Rose, another lady who always sets the pace for others. Thanks for the information. I guess the hotel was one of societal fun meets for many businesses that need to get together for that annual dinner, etc. Yes, later Duke hotel.

HIROSHI DEGUCHI JAPAN said...

There seems to be something fascinating about it those days. It must have been filled with adventure tales of mysterious old Singapore. I really want to go back there with you. I might have told you "Hey, why don't you sing this new song from USA" listening to the music from PA in the bar.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Hiroshi, how are you sir. Yes, come on over when stupid covid stops its attack on poor Mother Earth. I am not too familiar with US songs but try to appreciate BLACK PINK because of my younger kids around. Still lots of adventure tales of SG as you mentioned.

THANKS FOR EARLY COMMENT and others too.
THANKS TO JALANI n ROOP also.

JIMMY APPUDURAI-CHUA - ENGLAND said...

my classmate father owns the hotel. Freddy Foo.

TED HA said...

I lived in our ancestral bungalow in the 50s, 150 yards from Ambassador Hotel.
Each night before sleeping I could hear the same old songs beingplayed from the open roof top of the Ambassador.

The wind blew all manner of sound into my bedroom.
Sweet memories.

I did not know how the play the guitar at that age.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Wow Ted
Thanks so much.
Your memory enchants me.
The blog survives on memories.

LAURENCE LIM said...

I remember a new owner bought over and renamed it DUKE HOTEL.
I knew the owner's son, STEPHEN FOO.
They had a band at the roof top and I had the opportunity to sing with the band too.
Nostalgic.

I sang THE NEARNESS OF YOU.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Again thanks Laurence for your support.
Your memory is like your person, still fresh and strong.

IRENE YAP RECORDING ARTISTE said...

You are so kind with your compliments. I accept with gratitude! Yes, we must have kopi! Definitely! Soooon...

NOSTALGIC SINGAPORE - FB GROUP CHAT said...


Andy Young
Author
hi guys, thanks so much for the response. each comment on the post adds up to a story of great memory wealth for others to use... the brain is rich again, so thanks for sharing your wealth.

Stephen Cheong
What was built in its place?

Stephen Cheong i think there are lots of private apartments there but can't really specify any particular name.

Ananda Ang
Used to go there for joget and listen to oldies such as Irene goodnight
Used to organise dinner and dancing at least once a month mostly peranakan. Now most of them already no more rip. Misses them alot. Used to organise dinner and dance or speech day there

Andy Young
Author
Ananda Ang thanks for the flashback. Irene Goodnight is a great song. Yes, lots of peranakans live in that area too.

Ian Jansen
Loved drinking there in the early seventies and listening to the band. Knew a bloke that worked there in the late 60's as a manager who had tourette syndrome, but cannot remember his name.

Andy Young
Author
Ian Jansen Hi thanks for the short history of the hotel. interesting indeed that you remember this particular manager.

Lim Heng Nai
It used to be called the Embassy Hotel in 1953.

Andy Young
Author
Lim Heng Nai Yes, the sign can still be found on GOOGLE IMAGES. Thanks for telling us all.

NOSTALGIC SINGAPORE - FB GROUP CHAT said...

Kenneth Vaithilingam
Roof Garden night club . You could hear the music when you were making out with your girlfriends at Katong Park. Irene Goodnight was usually the last song, but we used to leave earlier because no money for taxi and had to take the last bus home

Andy Young
Author
hi Kenneth, thanks. You are spot-on. it's the usual problem we face as a young person but it's worth all that trouble, i think 😀

STEPHEN HAN said...

Used to dance at the rooftop ballroom especially during X’mas and Chinese New Year.I can still remember the lovely strip teaser, Eva Kim from Korea taking off her dress.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Reg Mifflin
I was riding my bicycle on Arthur Rd when the loudest bang went off. I fell off my bike, ears ringing. When I got to the Ambassador a section (left side in the photo) had been blasted. A small crowd had gathered. I noticed our neighbour had rushed from the Spore Swimming Club and was taking pictures (Joe Bangay you out there?) The bomb was set by Indos I believe during konfrontasi

Andy Young
Author
Reg Mifflin THANKS REG SO MUCH FOR YOUR RATHER TERRIFYING STORY. IT'S AN INCIDENT ANY PERSON WILL NEVER FORGET.

Those were the high tea days.
Ananda Ang
It remind me of wonderland the amusement Park. All nearby, Seaview hotel. Those day we jus walked

Kenneth Vaithilingam
Tay Tuck Kuan , Son of Buan Guan , was in Primary school with me. Not sure where he is now

Fahmy Ismail
Screen grab from the 1964 P Ramlee Malay movie “Madu Tiga”. Ambassador Hotel as it appears back then. It was renamed “Dukes Hotel” in the early 1980’s.

THANKS FAHMY FOR THE PIX. I DIDN'T KNOW THE HOTEL WAS FEATURED IN THE 'MADU TIGA'MOVIE BY P. RAMLEE.

VAL BIRD said...

Lived in Tanjong Rhu. Heard the blast. Police closed the road off, so could not drive my boyfriend (now my husband), back to his ship. Had to divert through the kampong in Jalan Kayu. At leat noone was hurt in the blast. Big bang, little damage.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Koh Daisy
Happy memories of Ambassador Hotel...
weekend dancing...
live band...
only $5 cover charge...
can dance till midnight.

Andy Young
Koh Daisy
Thanks Daisy for response.
A nice formal ambience with lovely music.
No more such nowadays.

FACEBOOK said...

THANKS TO THESE KIND FOLKS WHO 'LIKE' THE AMBASSADOR NOSTALGIA
Ho Victor
Yip Dick
Sammin Ang
Derence Tang
William Oh
Tommy Koh
Shemeela Sasikumar
Clarice Viola Pereira
Anthony Chew
James Tan
Ismail Ahmad
Kok Oi Yee
Edwin Tan
Hans Lange
Tai Hui
Mahinda Sena
Mi-shi Moon
Ben Tay
Mark Roche
Bernard Lee
Sherie Lae Robertson
Roland Chua
Alan Ng
Joo Chong Sim
Stanley Tan Say Tong
LynnWynn Ng
Karen Kaya Tan
Mark Walker
如意郎君
David Ferrao
Jeffrey Chong
Diane Wong-Allen
Emily Bleazard
Kheng Lai Tan
Elizabeth Clare Surin
Alwi Aidid
David Foggie
Ben Lim
Vincent Paul Carthigasu
Kun Hee Ho
Alvin Chee Au Yong
Ranchu Ho
Saonah Khalid Cagnard
Aziz Kassim
Andy Isaac
Joe Woo
Edwin Pang
Terence Kessler
Rachel E Williams
Alvin Cheah
Ron Shing
Zubaidah Safuan
Stanley E Nicholas
Rick Burnett Baker
John Wong XH
Juria Banding
Alvin Pereira
Baba Nobuharu
Zacc GO
Marvin Tam
Shariah Otts
Geraldine Soh
Yeo Kok Siong
Sarjit Singh
Rem Ariesian
Steven Chan
Rosman MH
Rowena Row
Juzer Saifee
Ashley Jansen
Giovanni John
Francis Arios
Juniper Chew
Elizabeth Cornelius Boyd
Lim Mei Fang
Jason Kang

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING FOR LIKING THE POST
Veronica Young
Joey Koh
Ho Victor
Nora Tann
Yip Dick
Francis Anthony Rozells
Rose Khoo
Hiroshi Deguchi
Roop Singh
Irene Yap
Jalani Mohamed
Rem Ariesian
Gracie Teo

FACEBOOK said...

Kenneth Vaithilingam
I was in Tanjong Rhu Boys School in the late fifties and the Embassy Hotel was already there. Arthur Road was the road next to the hotel and the houses were occupied by the British Forces Officers. Once someone complained that the boys were making too much noise after school, when we walked pass. So the next day we very quietly carried the dustbins placed outside and changed their places. Europeans never had numbers on their dustbins because they thought no one would want to steal them

HAMIDAH BTE PUTEH said...

Dear Andy,
I am doing a research on Katong Park as part of my school work, with a group of 4 friends. Found your blog and would really like to interview you as well as some of your friends (posted comments) who were residents around the area. I hope you are willing to meet us and share your memories.

JOSEPH LOW said...

An icon flanking Katong Park - now gone forever