Tuesday, December 22, 2009

(1) Singapore Tea Dances In The Late 30's - Live Music, Entertainment And Cabaret


Tea-dances didn't start in the 60s with The Trailers at the Palace Theatre in Katong, East Coast Singapore nor did it start with The Checkmates at the Golden Venus nightclub at the end of the shopping strip at Orchard Road. Tea-dances were around way before the 40s. And with a poster to prove.

The orchestra, with at least 8 musicians, used to be called "live" because they were all on stage providing the swingingest music ever. If one looks at the year, it was 1939 and way before the Japanese decided to make our beautiful country its island gateway - about 22 years before Cliff Richard and The Shadows landed in Singapore.

There is a difference though, because, at this tea dance, one had to pay for a female dance partner as patrons were not allowed to bring female companions. For S$3.00 (expensive!) a patron would get 3 tickets to dance thrice with whoever he wished. Male friends would go as a group and buy beer for the night, sitting at tables provided in the cabaret.

The 20 or more "charming dancing partners (image)" in waiting would be sitting in a row in front of the orchestra. Blogger has been told that some cheeky patrons would place the ticket stub on the low-cut dresses of these ladies. A dance usually lasted about 3 minutes ie, the duration of the music. Remarks made after the gentlemen returned to their seats? "One dollar gone!" Those who just wanted a drink,"the first class bar" mentioned in the poster provided the water-hole.

Image: National Heritage Board, Singapore.

Original Article: Andy Lim Collection.


Anonymous said...

Interesting! I'd love to learn more about Singapore's old amusement parks and all the entertainment that was offered.

BTW, why did they call them tea dances?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

100% British heritage, sipping tea and biscuits at four o'clock in the afternoon.
It's tea-time but the beverage is different, unless you specifically ask for tea.

If you refer to the side-bar, click on to the Worlds - Happy, Great and New. These are the amusement parks and they provide entertainment so different from the ones we have now.