All the men are in these places
And the men are all the same
You don't look at their faces
And you don't ask their names
Letter from Allan Thompson who was from RAF Changi:
Sometime in 1965 I went into Singapore with one of my friends and after visiting a few bars, we went along to the Great World to round off the evening.
Inside the dance hall we each bought a book of tickets for the *taxi-dancers but found that the prettiest girls had all been reserved by wealthy Chinese businessmen who had bought several books of tickets earlier in the evening.
After a few dances with one or two of the slightly older, very charming, remaining girls we sat at a table listening to the band whose name I don't recall.
The musicians were all male but two of the singers were beautiful Chinese girls wearing brightly-coloured silk dresses with slit sides. When the entertainment ended, we went outside to look for a taxi and while we waited, the two Chinese singers came out.
When a taxi appeared, we offered to drop them off at their home before continuing to Changi. They accepted our offer and when we reached their house, which was quite large with a small front courtyard, they invited us in for a drink.
We paid our taxi-driver and went inside where a middle-aged Chinese amah made us a cup of kopi each and we sat at a table chatting to the girls and complimenting them on their singing.
After a while, the door-bell rang and the amah admitted a small group of European men who sat at a second table and were served a glass of beer each.
The girls thanked us for bringing them home and then moved across to join the new arrivals. Naively, we wondered if these were friends, and then it dawned on us that the girls were more than just singers - they had second careers administering to the needs of lonely servicemen.
We felt quite honoured that they had not regarded us as potential clients but were treating us as guests because we had been considerate enough to offer them a lift home.
In the circumstances, perhaps it is just as well that I can't remember the name of the dance band! I hope this recollection is not too low in tone for your excellent site. I may have other adventures to offer later.
Lyrics: Private Dancer: Mark Knopfler. Universal Music.
Information/Original Article: Allan Thompson Collection. All Rights Reserved.
Dance Hostesses - Peter Chan Collection.
Image: 4 Great World Ticket - Allan Thompson Collection.
Images: 3, 6 Great World and Dance Crowd. National Heritage Board Singapore.
Image: 2 Songstress - Google.
Vinyl Record Cover: Squirrel Record SEP 1008:
Side One: Tonight We Rejoice and Crimson Evening Sky. Side Two: A Night In Autumn and A Long Wait.
*taxi dancers = another term used for 'cabaret girls' or lady partners from the cabaret you pay to dance with.
My question: Is it common for female singers in cabarets to have second careers as ladies of the night?