George Orwell's Year 1984.
The only strip queen I heard or read about in Singapore was locally famous Rose Chan (last image below) who was a hit in the 1960's. But I had never even seen her live on stage. And the only strip joint I had ever visited in my life was during the first year of my studies abroad.
As we walked in, the background music accompanying the lady on stage was familiar. I told myself, it's Prince again announcing his freak weather condition, Purple Rain.*
Purple, rain, purple rain,
Purple rain, purple rain,
Purple rain, purple rain,
I only want to see you bathing in the purple rain.
It had haunted me throughout my stay in Canada and was the number one hit that year. This agony song was heard everywhere. Similarly, in the club, the refrain just went on and on. Not much of a crowd with mostly bored but tough-looking Winnipeg guys in lumberjack checked shirts and thick-soled protective shoes. Each had a can of beer in hand.
And the act on stage? Our poor lady looked so tired and so unexciting that I wanted to leave my little glass of Bacardi Coke and quit the place. But I couldn't. I had three other friends with me, all native Canadians.
It was near November and Winnipeg was its usual chilly self. Cold actually for a Singaporean. Into Autumn and coming to early Winterpeg. Luckily no purple rain outside.
A week-night outing with no place to go. My first and last time in a strip joint. Luckily we left early at midnight! I was told the joint opened till four. Or 24 hours. Can't remember.
As we walked out of the club, a new act came on stage and livened the atmosphere with another 1984 hit! The music played the alternative National Anthem for the year. It was Wham's ever incessant pop that had also bugged me in Winnipeg called, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.
The young man living above my apartment used it as a morning alarm to rouse him out of bed. It was so loud the whole neighbourhood could hear the call. But what irony:
It's cold out there
But we'll stay in bed
They can dance
We'll stay home instead.
Then there's this third number. I can still remember it was another 1984 hit by Tina Turner. Together with Wham's, they were released in May that year.
This Singapore girl who lived on the other apartment block across from the campus had a way with this Turner pop-charter. Whenever we visited her, this particular song was on. And she was crying on the phone, talking to mama.
She kept telling mama she wanted to go home, that it was cold and she missed her Singapore cuisine, satay, rojak, chapati and char kway teow. But actually, she was star-struck by blue-eyes and blonde hair i.e. a Caucasian guy and couldn't tell mama the truth. So What's Love Got To Do With It? 😍
Strange though that this track from Turner's Private Dancer album was never played that night in the strip club. I guess we left too early.
There you are folks, three songs that kept me going. Listening to songs can trigger the places you visited, the people you met and even the weather you faced.
What songs trigger your memory?
*Prince explains what the song means: "When there's blood in the sky, red and blue equals purple which pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love; letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain." The Same phrase appeared earlier in Top Ten Songs, 'Ventura Highway' (America:1972).
Images: Google and a private collection.
Videos: will credit soon.
Ms Rose Chan who was well-known in the 60's period for her performances on the cabaret stage at the amusement parks in Singapore.
And here's the best song to remember. As good friend Tan Soo Khoon explains, it's The Stripper by David Rose and his Orchestra from YouTube [below]. Thank you Soo Khoon.