Saturday, April 10, 2021

Happy World Stadium - Music, Wrestling, Boxing, Globetrotters, Skating by Stephen Han


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Happy World, New World and Great World Amusement Parks were the venues where the working folks visited to unwind from the stress at work. The defunct Happy World was once the biggest arena in South East Asia. In the 50s and 60s it hosted a variety of entertainment for Singaporeans.

Beside the usual, dancing at the Happy Cabaret, Malay ronggeng at the gazebos outside the shops and some food stalls, where music was concerned, it was the venue where the original Platters sang.

Johnnie Ray also sang here with Lola Dee as his opening act. I was fortunate to see a very young Cliff Richard performing with the Shadows minus Tony Meehan who was replaced by Brian Bennett.
The original Platters at Happy World in the 1950's

A good friend related how he watched Abbe Lane, sultry singer from South America and her husband Xavier Cugat performed with their orchestra in full splendour in the huge stadium. Mr. Cugat carried a chihuahua [dog] as he lead the band. It was so small he could carry it in his coat pocket.

The audience were thrilled. with the orchestra's big sound. At that time the big bands with saxophone, trombones, trumpets and a double-bass was common. No keyboards but a grand piano, so grand that it stood majestically in black fronting the stage.
My father took me to watch the “Holiday On Ice”, beautiful skaters gliding on ice in supreme command of the jeweled floor. I was very young still and was embraced by the calm and cool of an entertaining team of wondrous snow-folks.

Then the thrilling and hilarious Harlem Globetrotters, tall African Americans dwarfing their 'rivals' on the basketball court. Most were seven-footers and for drama, one tall player even carried his five feet rival and nearly threw him into the net. It was a hilarious show mixed with thrills and spills by these superb sportsmen from the USA. They were led by their white manager, Abe Saperstein.
From IPOH ECHO 1st Nov 2019

Boxing And wrestling matches were regularly held in the Happy World Stadium. Remember Wong Buck Lee, Leow Kwang Seng, Bosca Boa and the notorious King Kong, whose main rivals were Dara Singh and Lee Leong Fu [image above].

I used to watch boxing too and noted the great rivalry between Lim Kee Chan and Sonny Chia. There were international boxers like Boy Brooks and the three Sand Brothers from Australia.

The martial art schools like Karate and Tai Kwan Do held their tests and gradings there too. Happy World which was later named Gay World had served its purpose as more venues around Singapore were built to host sporting and entertainment events.

Sadly the stadium and its surrounding buildings were demolished. A field stands today, our reminder of an important venue that once stood tall in entertainment.
An original article by Stephen Han [w. Mrs Han]
Thanks so much Stephen.

A poster of the HOLIDAY ON ICE SHOW 
at the Happy World Stadium 

Ticket for an evening with the original Globetrotters.
[https://www.ebay.com/itm/rare-1961-Singapore-Happy-World-Stadium-
HARLEM-GLOBETROTTERS-BASKETBALL-ticket-/153887360202]

Images from GOOGLE.
If images are copyrights,
do write in; they will be deleted.

Disclaimer
No items are being sold on this posting.
Images have to be connected to a website for copyrights purposes.

29 comments:

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Do check this article by STEPHEN HAN about the shows at the Happy World Stadium. Many pop stars. Thanks STEPHEN.

Hiroshi Deguchi
"Green Grass, the site of dreams of Tae Kwon Do fighters" In 2017 I took a little trip to Happy World Amusement Park, looking back with nostalgia on the summer Sunday when I went to cheer up my Tae Kwon Do friends who took part in the tournament in 1985. But Everything has gone.

Koh Daisy
Remember the joget stage at Happy World ... patrons could buy dance tickets for only 50 cents. He could approach any of the dancers and joget away when the band starts playing. This was all done in full view of the public on a brightly lit stage ... no hanky panky. There was also a dance hall .. cha cha mambo style ... never been inside as a kid.

Andy Young
Hi Daisy, thanks for the very informative and detailed joget stage. Yes, it was outside the stadium, like a gazebo with steps up to a platform where the small 'dance' floor was. You are one great nostalgia lady. CHEERS.

Andy Young
Hi Hiroshi, wow, didn't know you are familiar with Happy World too. Yes, the sight of dreams. Very true. I took it up too but when I saw a friend punched in the face with his glasses broken I gave up after yellow. Thanks so much.

Andy Young
Thanks to DICK, WEN HING, CHARLIE and GRACIE for the thumbs up. Charlie has been so kind to send me his friends' comments thru SMS.

WEN HING (Singer/Composer) said...

Thanks Andy 😀
I hardly know these places, as I did not have the opportunity to be part of the crowd patronising such venues. But there’s a lot of colour, culture and history associated with these places, and I am sure they bring back wonderful memories for many people. It is a part of Singapore’s landscape and heritage after all, and we must all celebrate its memory and the joy it brought to people of that era.

BENSON said...

Hi Andy,
if I am not wrong , Cliff Richard and the Shadows performed in Happy World in 1961.

KELLY TAN (LOCOMOTION) said...


Later Happy World changed to be Gay World.
Cliff Richard and The Shadows performed there before.

STEPHEN HAN [author if post] said...

I wish to add.
I think ‘Holidays On Ice’ was a yearly affair during the school holidays.Harlem Globetrotters had a lot of comedy acts. I remember in one act where a member of the basketball team carried a pail and tried to splash the water on another but he ran away and it looked like the spectators would be splashed but the pail only had pieces of newspaper it. We were all fooled and laughed during the excitement.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks KELLY, BENSON for the acknowledgements and to WEN HING for his very comprehensive comment about cultural/historical venues and their importance.

I love HAPPY WORLD and I have been there so many times with my father, a loving wrestling fan, as we would take the bus every time there's a match. Watched Dara Singh, King Kong and others slam themselves and others on the ring floor. These are pretty great acts especially in the 50s and 60s when there were not many other entertainment places to watch anything.

I still remember the ONE, TWO, THREE coming from the referee, as he hit the counts on the canvas, when either of wrestlers 'threw his towel' and admitted defeat. Time to go home after the main bout.

We sat on huge, hard, cold cement steps as spectators and definitely enjoyed ourselves; we were usually home before midnight.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Hello Freda.

Freda Hanum
Indeed such a memorial place, My late mum did take me to watch this great ice skating show "Holiday On Ice" when Young, but unfortunately not the pop star shows. Nice article from Stephen Han.

Andy Young
Yes, he's always so sincere Freda, allowing me to put up his articles on the blog all the time. Imagine to have seen so many of these shows, including his collection of pop stars with signed autographs. Thanks.

Malvin said...

Fascinating! Would have loved to experience those amusement parks in the 60s. Thanks for sharing these memories.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...


THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING FOR THE THUMBS UP
Malvin Chua
Alexandra Hsieh
Yen Chow
Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Freda Hanum
Hiroshi Deguchi
Charlie Yap Locomotion
Yip Dick
Koh Daisy
Chow Wen Hing
Gracie Teo

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Frank Lu
Happy and then Gay or is it the other way. I remembered watching those Chinese kungfu like glass eating and other feats, with goggled eyes.

Andy Young
Author
Thanks Frank. Appreciate your sharing the show you've seen. It's for real. Great Chinese sportsmen they were. Thanks also to IRENE, JALANI, FABIAN, JEFFREY for the thumbs up.

Joseph Jansen
What was the date when the Harlem Globetrotters played at Happy World? Sorry cannot see from the photo. Would appreciate if someone cd share. I remember attending as a teen but not sure if that particular date was the one.
Thanks...😊

Andy Young
Author
It's either 61 or 64, Joseph. Not too clear. Thanks for the nostalgia. Glad you wrote in. Cheers.

CHARLES MCINTYRE
👍

Andy Young
Author
Thanks Charles. You live in Singapore. Or been here before.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Charles McIntyre
Born in S’pore migrated to AU in ‘72 , I was 21y then.

Andy Young
Author
Thank you Dorai Asokumar and Patrick Tan for the thumbs up.

Andy Young
Author
Thanks Charles. Welcome to OUR world.

JIMMY CHNG - 'DECIBELS' GUITAR GROUP said...

Nice article by Stephen.
I remember watching the Globetrotters at the stadium there too.
The amusement park that I frequented most was the Great World as it was within walking distance from where I lived.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Derrick Gilbert
I was there when Cliff Richard and the Shadows performed. Saw some wrestling too.

Charles McIntyre
I remembered seeing The Platters wit my dad.

Andy Young
Author
Thank you Dorai Asokumar and Patrick Tan for the thumbs up.

Andy Young
Author
Thanks Charles. Welcome to OUR world.

Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Saw cliff and the shadows

Andy Young
Author
Hi Jimmy thanks for coming over. I haven't visited your posts lately. And thanks to others who like this post. Like the Ambassador Hotel, Happy World is another kopi tiam for 60s visitors.

DAISY KOH [MRS] said...

Oh Yes,
Happy World Cabaret was also the home ground of Rose Chan,
where she performed with a huge python. 😁😁

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Saw cliff and the shadows

Henry Chua
Jimmy Appudurai-chua Cheapest ticket was $2. But I missed it as was informed sold out.

Andy Young
Author
Hi Jimmy thanks for coming over. I haven't visited your posts lately. And thanks to others who like this post. Like the Ambassador Hotel, Happy World is another kopi tiam for 60s visitors.

Yip Dick
In 1960, I was in Pri 6 at Geylang English School 1. Family living at Lor 40, Siang Lim Park, me too. But because I was sitting for the PSLE and we had a big family at home, decision was made that I should bunk with my elder sister's family at Dakota Crescent...a ground floor shophouse unit. It was great for me as I could study quietly. Walking to sch was a breeze. On many weekends night, I would go to Happy World...alone, a 12 yr old kid. I'd no money to pay for Entry or anything else. But I'd observed kids entered free with adult parents or uncles, aunties. So I just stood near the entrance and always a kind unknown uncle goin in will ask, 'you want to go in?' And " yes" was my reply. Such friendly, kind uncles after getting me in free, will also ask what I liked to see. My first request was the Wrestling showtime inside the covered stadium. " Come they'll say..as they bought tickets, and in we went. Kids free again. " Then at end of show, they gave me the flyers and programmes of the night and I treasured these so much...kept them nicely pasted in an exercise book. Names of many popular wrestlers of those days...I remember watching. King Kong, Sheik Ali, Tiger Puran, Leow Kwong Seng, and many more. Happy World was a magical land at night for everyone. Food, music, dances, rides, local culture, shopping tidbits and more. The story of my night adventures was featured on tv " There Was A Time" historical documentary by Media corp, a few years ago.🥰🌺✌👍☘️

Tan bp Sam
In the early 70s.. I went to my grandmother's house at Lorong 1 blk10 (demolished liao) during the weekend.. Always go there for movies sometimes only 50cent for 2movies.. very fond memories.. 😍

Andy Young
Author
Hi Dick thanks so much for your Happy World stories. I guess you're giving back now with your music, remembering the Uncles who helped you with the free entrances. If only more people are like you. You play entertaining ukulele.
Cheers.

Cedric Collars said...

Reading the Stephen Han's account of the Happy World, Great World and New World amusement parks and the comments by your readers brought a smile and fond memories of my youth. Yes they were indeed simple pleasures of a golden era and ones that are inscribed in the minds and hearts of all we baby boomers. Thanks for the article.

DICK YIP [UKULELE PLAYER] said...

Andy
.very true dear kawan! So many kind-hearted folks in the old days.
But I was also fortunate I had a very independent nature, unafraid to venture out alone even at night. My folks at home never worried where I was or what I was up to.
They knew I could look after myself pretty well in the 50's and 60's.🙏😍

ALAN WEBSTER said...

Remember the Happy world well in the mid fifties

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

A big thank you to everyone who likes the post.
Special thanks to STEPHEN HAN who wrote the article on HAPPY WORLD.
He's one good friend with a fantastic memory who has patronised and visited many of the shows in SG60'S.

HIROSHI DEGUCHI [JAPAN] said...

interesting to hear "dancing with a python but dreadful!!
[REFERRING TO A ROSE CHAN COMMENT.]

mattjsltan world guitar gngsta said...

definitely one of the highlights of my childhood is going to the worlds..
great, new, and ahppy world. for us kids it was the best expectations , although for dad i am not sure
but dad was loaded at that time, so i am sure he was always glad to see us kids jamming into the records, while my sisters went for the comic shops. we end up with satisfied looks with stacks of EPs, and the girls with stacks of schoolgirl comic and classic comics. remember them?
then there was the food of course. and this was not the end. after it closes, our driver drove us home in the old austin which packed all of us kids and mom dad and the driver. of course, we had a big car, i used to say, but we were all 5 little kids and 3 adults then, lol

then it is off to bedok for the sea food. that was something else too.
as for the shows, i remember the ice skating show, and the rong-geng,
and i used to keep asking mom and dad why we are not allowed to the cabaret.
i never got to find out about that. as by the time i was old enough, we were already into
playing rock star wannabees, and totally forgot about the 3 worlds and the cabaret.

but definitely, a special place in our hearts.. at least mine, as that was where i started
listening to everly brothers, etc.. it was all EPs at that time.

FL said...

Once a year during CNY (around 1958 to 1962), my parents would bring us to Happy World, Great World and New World amusement parks. As little kids, we were so overjoyed because we were not allowed to venture far away by ourselves ! I was a little confused and trying to make sense which amusement parks we had been to and where were they were located. I remembered my parents took us to watch Holiday on Ice in the early 1960s, and also I couldn't figure out the location then. We were only allowed fun games and those kids' rides, but no musical shows, dances, etc for adults ! I also remembered that every CNY Chap Goh May, my parents and many families would visit the amusement parks in the evenings to "take cover" from the non-stop fire-crackers till about 10 pm !

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks to MATT and FL for the interesting and detailed outings you both had.
Each has his own description of the night adventure in a wonderland from the 60's.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping to recreate some of this nostalgic memories with my good kawan well known Unk Ringo who is still v passionate about our heritage of the 3 worlds.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...


Kuo Tung Pang
A wonderful memory to be recall back then
Reply1d
Andy Young
Author
Kuo Tung Pang thanks. Tell us your memories.

Jalani Mohamed
I remember those days!

Andy Young
Author
Jalani Mohamed, you must be very young. I was like 10 years old.

Juan Ramirez Pbm
Golden Cat.

Andy Young
Author
Juan Ramirez Pbm HELLO! What is GOLDEN CAT? Thanks.

Juan Ramirez Pbm
Andy Young Kuching mas Malay nightclub

Andy Young
Author
Juan Ramirez Pbm, really? I didn't know this. Can you tell us more about this place. Sounds interesting. Kalau kucing-nya emas...

Juan Ramirez Pbm
Andy Young one Malay film primadona was here for a long time.

Lee Yew Moon
Dato Rajah!

Andy Young
Author
Lee Yew Moon, thanks. What is DATO RAJAH?

Shamsul Bahrin
What about Gay World?

Richard Lincoln
Shamsul Bahrin Happy World, Gay World, one and the same place.

Andy Young
Author
Shamsul Bahrin, Gay World. Ha, ha. Means differently now.

Sunan A-Que
From Happy world changed name to Gay world. Used to watch indo film at victory theatre there.

Andy Young
Author
Sunan A-Que, hi, yes I remember Victory Cinema. Cheers.

Freda Hanum
The good old wonderful days can never be forgotten 😊👍

Andy Young
Author
Freda Hanum never ever. You were in SG too?

Low Beng Keat
I remember the snooker saloon there, non-aircon $4.80 per hour, smoking permitted. That was in the 90s

Andy Young
Author
Low Beng Keat, hi. Yes smoke-filled days of old.

Jean Teng
Those days dad brought us to check on wrestling...

Weera Chak
Jean Teng same here.

Andy Young
Author
Jean Teng, yes. My dad too! And I became a KING KONG and DARA SINGH fan.

Joel Cheong
Looking at this old photo of the gated entrance to New World bring back nostalgic memories. Yes this is THE place we go to for fun laughter and relaxation when we were young. Oh please turn back the clock.!!

Andy Young
Author
Joel Cheong, hello! Yes, turning back the clock would be great. Thanks for the memories to this Happy World entrance. Cheers

Andy Young
Author
Thanks to all FB friends who responded. Yes, one of the happiest places those years. And Cliff Richard entertained there too; Xavier Cugat and his sexy and pretty wife Abbe Lane, with their pocket Chihuahua. Cheers.

Andy Young
Author
I must thank STEPHEN HAN, who is a good friend and on FB too, for writing this article.
May be an image of text

Mohammad B Atan
My late father use to sell mee rebus just Infront Gay World

Andy Young
Author
Mohammad B Atan, hello! That's nice. Do you have photographs of your dad? We could feature him, if you don't mind? Thanks.

Weera Chak
Those halcyon days.

Andy Young
Author
Weera Chak , truly. Thanks.

Weera Chak
Andy Young you are most welcome. Now we sit back & recall at times misty eyed as the happy years have flown by.

Alan Webster
went there a few times in the mid 1950s

Andy Young
Author
Alan Webster, myself too. Thanks for the memory.

Andy Young
Author
Alan Webster, hi again, you could tell us your adventures 🙂

FACEBOOK CHATS said...


Pug
Is this at serangoon Road, now city verw shopping mall now ?
Reply2h
Andy Young
Author
Pug, hi. The one you mentioned at Serangoon was the New World.


Kuo Tung Pang
It is located in Kallang, between Geylang road and Grove Road. Happy World, later changed to Gay World.

John Lynn
I use to go here for the TKD grading and tournaments when it was calling Gay World

Freddy Chew
John Lynn me too. Hehe...

Freddy Chew Good to know.

Andy Young
Author
John Lynn, You must be a black-belt.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

Ricky Chen
V nostaligc. Enjoy the 'goalie' game (table soccer) there.

James B Wright-Brown
It happened at all the Worlds

Cheah Kim Huat
Love the roller coaster ride with my first girlfriend. 🤠🤠🤠

Ch Tn
Great World was bigger and more happening.

BooYoung Do
Old days were cheap and good.

Tanbp Sam
My favourite playground.. my late granny lived at lor 1 blk#10.. so much fond memories.. 😍

Andy Young
Author
Tanbp Sam thanks.

John Ng
Tanbp Sam, my favourite playground too, the arcade games...😉
I stayed Lor 29 during my childhood years.

Tanbp Sam
John Ng yeah.. just beside 新胜利戏院..😍👍🏼

John Ng
Tanbp Sam, there's a 银国戏院 [SILVER COUNTRY THEATRE?] right?

Tanbp Sam
John Ng yup.. another one 快乐戏院 if my memory still serves me well.. 😆😅

Sunny Wee
Yeah all happy to be there

Ch Tn
Happy World had a restaurant called Wing Choon Yuan (sounded like that), was taken there few times. One unforgettable dish called Lion 's Head was a steamed pork ball so fatty that half of it made me feel ill.🥴

Andy Young
Author
Ch Tn, thanks. This is interesting. Never knew such a dish exists.

Ch Tn
Andy Young Not sure from what province of China. Their siao loong pao was called thang (soup) pao.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

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THANKS TO THE ABOVE READERS FOR LIKING THIS
POST ABOUT 'HAPPY WORLD' BY STEPHEN HAN.

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