Saturday, April 10, 2021

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


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.

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.

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

No items are being sold on this posting.
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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.


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.


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.


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


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
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.

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


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


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

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

Andy Young
Thanks Charles. Welcome to OUR world.


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.


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

Andy Young
Thanks Charles. Welcome to OUR world.

Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Saw cliff and the shadows

Andy Young
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. 😁😁


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
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 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
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.

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.


.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.🙏😍


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.


interesting to hear "dancing with a python but dreadful!!

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.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

James Kwok
Koh Lina
Yip Dick
Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Freda Hanum
Jalani Mohamed
Irene Yap
Foo Jong Fook
July Croager
Abdul Rahman Arsat
Cindy Low
Low Wai Pheng
Sand Patrix Chee
Shirley Ting
Lionel de Souza
Halim Ridwan
Peter Imran
Derek Lee
Jennifer Walsh
Thomas George
Eric Lim
Victor De Silva
Alwi Aidid
Teng Chiew Goh
Chen Xiuchen
Anthony Wong Swee Fung
Jimalifnur Mohamed
Terence Kessler
Sng Teck Guan
Roland Chua
Ron Chan
BooYoung Do
Mythili Slp
Tanbp Sam
David Chan
Alice Soo
Alan Ng
Lyndon Desker
Wong Sing Yeong
Clifton Ang
William Wen
Patrick Tan
Dorai Asokumar
Charles McIntyre
Jeffrey Foo