In Singapore 60's, Saturday nights were called golden nights because it was the time when pop bands were playing at most of the night spots in Singapore. My friends and I would meet and proceed to one and since we lived on the East Coast, it was usually the Paya Lebar Airport nightclub with its tiny dance floor or the Ambassador at Meyer Road. The latter had a choice of two dance venues. We would go to listen to the latest songs, to dance and to buy a drink or two.
There was also a joke running around those years, that boys and girls were hugging each other tightly on the floor rather than dance because the waltz and slow foxtrot were an excuse to do so. Instead of dancing the couples were actually lam-sing (translated lam in a Chinese dialect is to hold or hug).
So during quieter moments when the band played sentimental melodies the dance floor would be packed. All the more for a squeeze. Cliff Richard's, When The Girl In Your Arms and The Shadows, Midnight would be the favourites. Soft slow, caressing music...
But there was the rhumba, samba, mambo or the cha-cha. Except for the cha-cha and the off-beat version, the other dance-steps didn't make a difference to many of us.
The ladies would usually have a lemonade or an orange juice with ice. For the men, it's mostly beer or an alcoholic mix. It was always Bacardi Coke for me. I've heard of Tequila but never touched it. In fact, it was so popular, that like Rum and Coca-Cola, there was a song dedicated to the strong and crazy drink, Tequila by a group called the Champs.
A teetotaller my whole life, I have always stuck to drinking only Barcadi Coke because it was the only drink I knew. Never had a chance to drink other mixes like Gin and lime or Soda and Whisky. Always loved my drink sweet and I was told I could get diabetes if I drank too much Rum n Coke.
I knew the taste so well that there were times when the bartender gave me an adulterated mix of the cheapest rum. But I had always asked for another glass, with the real thing and true brown that is dark rum. But without the slice of lemon.
Invented at the beginning of the 20th Century, this drink became so famous that it is only known as Rum and Coke in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, India and Singapore. In other parts of the world, it's Cuba Libre - not Canta Libre, which is a Neil Diamond song.
The drink was so well received by the public in Singapore and the world, that almost every nightclub carried the concoction. In fact, there is even a song by a well-known vocal group called The Andrew Sisters.
Drinkin' Rum and Coca Cola
Go down Point Koomahnah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar
Oh, beat it, man, beat it...*