Monday, November 12, 2007

James Seah Remembers the Great World Amusement Park

Kids of my generation who grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s Singapore will certainly know about the ‘Three Worlds’. They are Gay World in Geylang Road, New World at Serangoon/Kitchener Road and Great World at Kim Seng Road. These three amusement parks held great memories for us. I am more familiar with New World but not the other two. But fortunately, my friend James Seah has some fond memories of Great World which he shares with us below.


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Looking at these two pictures, few people would have believed that the Great World City sits at the exact same spot where the Great World Amusement Park was once located 50 years ago, along Kim Seng Road, Singapore.




Great World Amusement Park, 1956



Great World City, 2006


It is a total physical and visual transformation; a phenomenon of reconstruction which has been sweeping over Singapore for the past three decades or so. The landscape of modern Singapore is ever-changing, ever-evolving - a visual yardstick of economic progress in all the big cities of the world.

Great World holds fond memories for me as a young street urchin of Bukit Ho Swee some fifty years ago.

As an 11-year-old who grew up in Havelock Road in the 1950s, I was then attending Delta Primary School. Great World could be seen from the top of the “crooked bridge” (“Khiow Ku Keo” in Hokkien) behind the school. The “crooked bridge” was actually formed by the bent arch of the huge water pipeline running from the Johor causeway.

My first visit to Great World was with my mother during the December school holidays when I was in Primary 5. The amusement park was very crowded during the “Trade Fair”, an event which is usually held to coincide with the mid-year and end-year school holidays.

Whenever a Trade Fair was held, a ray of white light will be beamed from Great World into the night sky and could be seen from miles away.

New “Made-in-Singapore” products were launched at the Trade Fair; with special offer and free gifts. I vividly remembered an Indian sales promoter who delivers his sales pitch and wisecracks over the loud-hailer in fluent Hokkien. Another gimmick which attracted the crowd at the exhibition stalls was when the advertising products were thrown into the air and everyone tried to grab for these free stuff.

There were 4 cinemas in Great World – Sky, Globe, Atlantic and Canton, all owned by the Shaw cinema magnates. Sky (see photo - right) and Globe screened films in English while the shows in Atlantic (see photo - middle) and Canton (see photo - bottom) were usually in Mandarin or Cantonese.

There were times when Atlantic would screen 2 “third-run” Chinese films for the price of 50 cents during day shows. I have watched most of the “kungfu” films during these matinee shows. “Third-run” means that these films have been screened in the major cinemas in town as new or “first-run” films several months earlier at “first-run” ticket price of $2.50 each.

Movie-watching was my favorite pastime during my childhood days in Bukit Ho Swee. I would save my daily pocket money of 10 or 20 cents for these occasional treats. I spend money only on the show tickets; no tidbits, drinks or bus-fare as Great World was within walking distance from my home in Havelock Road.

The amusing stuff of Great World as an amusement park are the kiddie joy rides (outdated compared to the funland machines today). The “ghost trains” was most popular. (It was not scary at all because the ghost effigies were made of papier-mache and attendants were walking around the “ghost town” to push the carts which are jammed in the rail). The ride will only frighten those who kept their eyes closed; not those who dare to open their eyes throughout the ride and found it fun and amusing.

There were also the carousel, merry-go-round aeroplanes, mini roller-coaster, and motor-engine operated joy rides with simple, unsophisticated designs and features. The rides were usually priced at 20 or 30 cents each.

I will always remember my first toy race-car ride at Great World one night when I was 12. I bent my mouth so close to the steering wheel of the race-car that when there was a collision with another car, my front teeth was hit. The gap between the top row of my middle teeth was chipped (a dentist will be able to describe it in less words) and it gradually decay and that was how I lose my teeth one night in Great World. It taught me something about safe driving. I will also be skipping Formula 1 in Singapore next year because of this one bad experience as a childhood racer.

36 comments:

Lam Chun See said...

I don't know much about Great World except the cinemas. Even then, I recall only Sky and Globe, which I only went to when I was older, probably in the 70's. I recall watching The Graduate and Catch 22 at Globe, and a Chinese movie at Sky.

I believe Globe was near the River Valley Road entrance whilst Sky was at the other end, near to Zion Road where the canal is.

pinto said...

Thanks, James, for sharing your memories of Great World.

Brian Mitchell said...

These parks were just not the list of places we visited as RAF kids in the 1960s - Tiger Balm Gardens yes and the bigger cinemas showing the English language blockbusters of the day.

Maybe they were off-limits to UK service personnel - does anyone know? I do recall reading in J G Farrel's novel The Singapore Grip (about the time up to the fall of the island to the Japanese in 1942) about a visit to one of the 'Worlds' and it clearly was considered a place of ill repute!

Victor said...

Thanks to James for bringing back the memories.

An attraction present (in all "3 worlds"?) was the joget (Malay for "dance") girls. Customers had to pay to dance with these girls. Of course, this could lead to other things.

Could that be the reason why the "worlds" were out-of-bounds to the British servicemen?

Laokokok said...

Thanks James. Unfortunately this World is the least visited one due to the distance away from our home...

peter said...

Things I can remember from late 50s to early 1960s.

1. My Aunty Sally operated one of the shops inside the Great World. She sold toys and children's clothes. That's how I got free toys whenever I visisted her shop. I think it faced the Globe Cinema then. Aunty Sally was a very enterprising woman.

2. My maternal grandmother was a dance hostess at the Flamingo Nightclub. My neighbour who lived above my grandparents' home in Tiong Bahru Road was the captain at the Flamingo.

3. I saw "The Guns of Navarone" and "Werewolf" at the Globe Cinema. Must be 1960 before I went to school.

4. "Ghost Train" amusement ride I took once but got nightmare afterwards. There was also this water-boat ride which had boats floating in a pool of water.

5. Went to this Cantonese restaurant called "Wing Choon Yuen" opposite Sky Cinema. I think it was someone's wedding function. There was a wooden balsutrade separating the dining area from the main street of Great World. As I was more inteersted in the rides, I sneaked out from the wedding function but kena scolding from my parents later.

In later years when my school shifted to Grange Road in early 1970s, we "escape lessons" by walking through Kay Poh Road to Globe Cinema. Then we spotted teachers waiting for us at the River Valley Road side. Some of my freinds kena detention class and had to wash all the toilets in the school. One of the teachers if I remember correctly was "Bulldog" Lee Fong Seng who later became principal of RJC.

Lam Chun See said...

Brian. I doubt locals of my generation would be able to throw any light on the question you raised about why British forces personnel could possibly be discouraged from going to these 3 amusement parks. But I think we are talking about a different era. It just might be possible (I am only speculating here) that prior to the 60's these places may not have a good reputation. I recall the famous stripper Rosie-something performed in one of these 'worlds'. But in the 60's, they were definitely children-friendly amusement parks.

As for movies, I believe the British forces had their own cinemas. In fact, when we were serving our national service, we were permitted to visit the Kent Theatre in Dover Road where the movies were uncensored. We used to watch the hilarious Carry One movies there.

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry. That should be Carry On films.

Lam Chun See said...

Hey ... did you know that the Great World was used as a prison for Australian POWs during the Japanese Occupation. You can read about the history of GW at Spore Infopedia.

chuck said...

I think there is another world. Happy world at Kallang where I had my first Viking Ride in the seventies.

stanley said...

James-Thanks for the memories. Great World situated along Kim Seng Road brought back many fond memories to me when as a young boy I used to visit Great World regularly. I was then living at Guan Chuan Street which is less than 2 kilometers away from GW.
Movie-watching was also my favourite pasttime. Apart from the entertainments mentioned by James I believe there were a few more such as the famous Wrestling matches featuring the ever popular King Kong. You can be assured of a full house whenever King Kong was advertised to appear for the showdown with his opponents. Another entertainment was the staging of strip tease shows featuring the famous stripper Rose Chan. In one of her shows, the male patrons went wild with shouts for more as the stripper slowly and teasingly peeled off her clothes piece by piece.

peter said...

Yes I do remember the CARRY ON series with Sydney James as the main actor. Actually that the movie was considered a bit too perveted on dirty jokes for an average conservative Singapore audience. The movie focused too much on boobs and cleavages, again something the local audience could not appreciate a caucasian woman for what she had as natural assets. Mine you the movies was not even showing sexual activities between man and woman.

Even in the SAF where movies were screened, it was only in the Officers Mess that this was kind of movie was permitted. I remembered that the duty officer had to sign-off many times in his log book and it was his responsibility to make sure the 8mm film did not get stolen. The films were loaned from the Rank Organization as far as I could recall.

So thanks to JB Rex Cinema, Singaporeans could see more flesh when it was not possible in Singapore. No wonder Sentosa Complex seem so popular with Singaporeans in the 1980s.

James Seah said...

Thanks to everyone for adding comments to my guest blog on Great World and for the kind words.

I must thank Chun See for giving me space in GMY to share my childhood memories of the fun time I had at Great World. All your comments also helped me and other readers to recall more about the amusement which kids and adults have at Great World when it was a hotspot for entertainment.

Please keep them coming to expand our collective memory of the happy times we had; when we could have as much fun with a smaller budget.

Thank you all for sharing.

zen said...

My parents came back from Malaysia and stayed in Geylang Lorong 14 for 2 years. Our home was not far from Gay World which was originally called 'Happy World'. Inside this entertainment park there were a few cinemas. Buying s cinema ticket to see a popular show then was a shove-and-push affair which often turned into brawls, very few females dared to undertake such task, and normally care-off the job to others, but ticket touts were readily available should one fail to get a ticket. There was no such thing as a booking system for tickets, which were sold on first-come-first-served basis before every show, and each ticket was entitled to one seat, with very little orderly enforcement by the cinema staff should dispute arise. On one occasion before the show started, my father left me alone for the toilet, meanwhile 'chopped' his seat by tying a hankerchief onto its armrest. A mean-looking guy came along, threw the hankerchief away, and instead conveniently sat beside me. My father came back, seeing what happened nearly hit the roof, and was about to teach this fellow a lesson, but luckily after one good look at my father's size (heavy weight category), he quickly decided to make a fast exit. This happened sometime in post-war Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Hi there again Mr.Lam I'm Rahman here, one of your follower of the good old days. I remember during the swinging 60's when I used to lived at Mandai Rd which is closed to the Nee Soon Village.There was this theatre called the Nee Soon Cinema.The cheapest ticket was 50cents whilst the back seat was 80cents. Some of the shows were not censored and the most particular one was the movie titled "Big Bad Mama' starring Angie Dickinson. Imagine I was only 11 years old and didn't expect that the show have some nude scene as Angie Dickinson goes topless. At this moment, my brother took his palm and blocked my eyes from watching further....I was really disgusted and was taken aback in disbelief....I also remember that the wooden seats in the theatre were sometims being infested by bed bugs. It's usual that some patrons tends to light up a match stick and burned the underneath of the seats before the show starts. Smoking in the cinema was a no offence although the cinema warned thru the picture screen that Smoking is not allowed in the cinema......Blue Lagoon, Spiderman and The Alamo wa shown in that particular theatre....Is all a memory for me now...

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Rahman. I think I've been to that theatre before. Just once only during the 70's when I was in Mandai Camp. It was on the right side of the road just after Mandai Road junction going north wasn't it?

TRI-FAST SINGAPORE said...

I was born in Kim Seng area. My address was 112A Kim Seng Road that time. I am 41 now. Great World was just one of my favourite place to go..especially when it is near the CNY season. I remembered ALL the cinemas. Beside Atlantic (Da Xi Yang) was a billiard salon. Beside it was a cafe selling drinks and jelly. There is also a circular enclosed garden area too. Behind this circular enclosure was some other stores by the side of entrance facing the Singapore River. There you will find the rear entrance to Flamingo. There were also some Search Lights for use during the expo season. Canton was a stone throw away. You can take a walk along the road where you will find a furniture shop there. Between Atlantic and Canton is where you will find electric cars for rental. Kids' fav. Canton is just beside Ruby Restaurant. Thats where my parents had their wedding function. Beside Ruby are the slot machines. There was even a rifle range (pallets). Then beside the games machine area is the side entrance facing Zion Road. There you will find Wing Chun Yuen Restaurant. If you have noticed, I describing the place using the perimeter. In the middle are basically shops and stores. After you pass Wing Chun Yuen, there are some more shops and then you will hit the Ghost Train (My fav). The first ghostly figure is the Tua Ya Pek (yi jian fa cai) followed by a hanging torso etc. You were right about train getting jammed and the workers came in and put it in place. The best thing that can happen is power failure during the ride. hahaha. Ok..beside the ghost train is a stage...singings and performances can be seen here. Roller coaster (2 rounds) , space ride (stick on the wall type), aeroplance, horse carousel, boat, space ball spin, merry go round (where people love to swing the seats). Globe will show all the English movies and Sky the Chinese one. Too many shows I have watched there. Globe is always litted up with Balls of yellow light in the main lobby. Oh ya...free screening can be seen at its side with a projection house slightly elevated from the ground. Sky needs to climb some steps up. Ticket sales is by its side. Remember the prawn crackers? The big sheets of prawn crackers?? And also the Melon Seeds in Green and Red packagings. Beside Sky is Flamingo. Jaga is normally Singh. I have been inside and got caught by my late Dad before. Dancers in nude was a norm then. Am I accurate with my description?

peter said...

Tr-Fast, would u like to contact me? Give your email to Chun See.

Although I didn't live so near to Great World World like you, I lived in my grandparents House in Eng Hoon Street. Your description very accurate. My auntie used to have one of those shops selling clothes and toys. I got nightmares each time I took the Ghost Train. There were horse figurines installed in the carousel. there was also a racing car track with a pole connected to some electric cables - you bum your car at others. I got a neighbour who was a manager at The Flamingo Night Club. When our school was at Kay Poh Road, we usually run-away through Hoot Kiam Road to see the 11am show.

I need someone like you to sketch the detailed layout as I am not good understanding "words".

Lam Chun See said...

Tri-Fast. Thanks for those precious details of another of Spore's lost icons. I shall alert my friend James who wrote this article.

By the way, for the ghost train, do you recall seeing those scary 牛头马面? - roughly translated; "soldiers or messengers from Hades". These are humans with heads of buffaloes and horses. I seem to remember seeing them at the New World's ghost train.

If you and Peter can come up with a good sketch of the Great World, it would certainly be worth writing a second post on this topic to pass on this historical detail to future generations.

peter said...

Now u mention about those search-lights, I remember my late mother use in the early 1960s frighten me with those search lights shining into the dark sky because I like to stay out late until 8+pm then come home to my grandfather's house.

She said the Japanese are attacking Singapore again and the aeroplanes would soon drop bombs. Because of this when ever I saw the search lights, I quickly come home.

One time I saw 2 of the search lights parked inside Great World. Looked like a big bulb to me with one person on each light turning the directions.

TRI-FAST SINGAPORE said...

I made a mistake...its not Ruby Restaurant, it should be Diamond. Mixed up the stones. We are Cantonese...so my parents always call it "Zyun Sek". My childhood home was the road leading to Kim Seng East / West / Technical School. My block had 2 stores selling candies, staionary etc. I saw the entire construction all the HDB blocks in Zion Road...1st block nearest to Great World (Tai Sai Gai) was Block 88. In the olden days, the Great World side of the Singapore River was filled with road side food stalls. The Mee Goreng and Teh Tarik was No 1!I have also witnessed the construction of Kim Seng Shopping Centre from the rear of my house. But its gone lately. Behind Times House was also a Sarabad Stall.

Back to Great World...The Ghost Train queue was always terrible. My time (70s) was 30cent per ride. The train runs on a single rail with the front wheel on the rail and supported by 2 rear rubber wheels. It will knock 2 doors before you see Yi Jian Fa Cai. There weren't any Cow Head Horse Face. As far as I can remember, apart from Tua Ya Pek, there is a hanging torso, some hell punishment, big head ghost. But the last one is a vampire picture with green light. To speak the truth, I have even walk inside the entire in the day. After school, my friends and I would climb over the gate at the Sky cinema side, sneak pass the jaga and head for the ghost train station. This were during off season when all the rides are closed. Like I mentioned, the park only opens during the CNY festive season...but the cinemas were operating 365 days. OK..there were many joss sticks inside the ghost train area. Perhaps to pray so that the operator will not offend any of them. I was sad to see the rides gone one by one. At one stage, the many rides were closed...the place was like rented out to some other operators. The type of expo was also different. That was when Great World was coming to an end!!

Back track abit, toilets of Atlantic and Canton were outside except for Sky and Globe. Atlantic and Canton had straight red stage curtains. Sky had a big red valance type of stage curtain which is draw upwards. Globe had a green one with a mix of valance and straight type and draws sideways. ABBA was screened in Globe too alongside with many other great movies. But the most prominent thing was when the curtain opens, the first image is always a NO SMOKING warning in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. I think the fine was 50 or 500 dollars.

Earlier on, I mentioned Great World was rented to other operator, Flamingo ceased its operation as well. The club was used as a make shift disco (when disco started to get popular)

Oh mind you...I can see Flamingo from my house window. There were some hostess staying opposite my house too. One more thing I forgot to mention, the buses plying Kim Seng Road was No 1, 21, 112 and 195then.

It was until one night, I was woke up by the sound of fire engines. I took a look from window. Oh my gosh...Great World was on fire! Big fire! Many shops were burnt. Some rumoured that it was work of arsonist. Luckily the cinemas were spared. But it did not survive long too. Eventually...the whole place was shut. Guess what...my friends and I still made our way there. We roamed around the Canton cinema area. Strewn on the floor were slides (glass slides) the cinema used to project. And you know what??? I found the NO SMOKING slide...! I should have kept it that time. What a waste..!!

If you need to contact me, feel free to email me at cliffleesc@yahoo.com.sg. My cellular is 90483598.

I must say I had a great time typing all these with my simple English.

peter said...

Tr-Fast,
I wanna check with u. The chinese restaurant which has 2 sections; one with indoor dining and the other side outdoor dinning (where u can see the carousel I think or the cinema, cannot remember) but fenced up using wood (like nursery garden), was that Zyun Sek Restaurant or Wing Chun Yuen?

I too wonder why Kim Seng School got east, west and technical also - why ?

One time I saw WErewolf at Globe Cinema, I got nightmare. I think I saw Spartacus here also in 1961. Globe Cinema had a wrought iron fence to prevent people from entering the cinema building - true or not? Cinema was painted purple or sky blue- true or not?

Can u remember a traffic policeman standing on a rostrum at the junction of River Valley Road/Kim Seng Road/Irwell Bank Road to direct traffic on Saturday lunctime?

I will email u soon.

Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for alerting me to the comments by Tri-Fast, Chun See.

I am pleasantly surprised that my guest blog on Great World almost two years ago is resurrected by Tri-Fast and Peter's recent comments on the topic.

Tri-Fast's vivid "elephant memory" is fantastic. His detailed descriptions of Great World is like the replay of a video in words. He could still remember the 'ghost train' rides so well. Please invite him to post as a guest blogger of whatever he could remember of old Singapore related to the blog theme of GMY.

Although the facts and information of historical Singapore is available from Wiki and the museum archives, they are dry.

It is the personal perspectives and experiences as written by you and Guest Bloggers Peter Chan, Freddy Neo, Lam Chun Chew, Chuck Hio, Kim Aii Chan and other active commentors which make GMY an interesting and favorite blogsite.

It the collective memories of the "vanished places" of Singapore posted here of heritage and research value. It is for posterity.

Keep up the good work, Chun See!

Cheers!

Kat said...

Hi guys,

Thank you all for your wonderful memories. I'm presently doing some research on Great World and I'm wondering if I can get in touch with Tri-Fast and Peter for a quick informal chat. If possible, please get in touch at kat0712@hotmail.com.

Cheers!

Kat

Dogcom said...

Wow I still have lots of catching up to do, reading all the Lau Chiaw's Blogs, thanks to links from Chun See blog.

Great World city, our family's favourite "world". Maybe it's nearest to where we lived, Tanglin. Every Chinese New Year my whole family will spent some time there. Those were happy times.

One incident I will never forget till this day is when I got lost in the crowd on one of these outings. I probably 6 years old cos I remember at that time I haven't gone to school yet (Kim Seng West across the street). I was fascinated and totally mesmerized by some miniature shoes in a showcase of a shoe shop while Dad chat with the people in the shop whom he knew. I must have gazed at those miniature shoes so long that when I am done, I found my family members missing. The places really crowded and being so little I guess I was literally drown in the crowd. I panicked and head to the entrance nearby. The Singh (with mustache and turban) who manned the gate noticed this little fella all along and must have been lost. He kept me there and after some terrifying moments my parent showed up looking for me just as worried.

I have lots of fond memories of the amusement park rides. The light beams into the sky like what we now see for the YOG. And the movies I watched at all the cinemas. I think I never missed the Cantonese movies starring Chow Tat Wah and Sek King - Yu Lai Sun Chion (hope you guy can make out what I mean). All the super power from the palm.

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Dogcom. If Yu Loi Sun Cheong is your thing, then you should check out this post of my from ages ago.

Mei Si said...

Hi,

My friend and I are students from NUS, Faculty of Arts and Social Science. We are thinking of doing a research on the memories of Singapore, with the Great World Amusement Park as a case study.

Your blog entry has provided us with a lot of useful information. Thanks for sharing!

Would it be possible for us to interview you and your friends to get more information about the Park as well as the impetus behind writing such entries about the past?

You can contact me at u0702796@nus.edu.sg

peter said...

Yr 1st photo of entrance to Great World dated 1956 - No that entrance is pre-WW2.

TRI-FAST SINGAPORE said...

At last, Mediacorp completed the filming of "it's a great great world" - 大世界. It will be launched on 27 Jan 2011 as a CNY movie. I have contributed quite a bit of details to Mediacorp on their warm up program prior to movie launched. I have met the writer Celest and producer Apple including the show host Ben YEO today in GWC. I will be featuring in this warm up program on 24 Jan 2011 Chn U. The main focus was the Ghost Train. I brought them to the actual spot actually. in was so happy when I was able to match my memories with the layout they obtained from national archive. Glad to have to spotted this website!! thanks everyone

Clifford
cliffleesc@hotmail.com
85229158

st said...

Hi!

I am glad to have found your website. My friends and I are part-time students of Murdoch University (Kaplan) and we are currently doing this module called 'Tourism Management'.

We are supposed to select a site and do a revamp and we have chosen Turf City as the site to work on.

W are very interested in using bringing Great World Amusement Park back as we find it to be very rich in historical and cultural values. Hence not only will tourists be attracted to it, I am sure our own local citizens will find it interesting as well.

However, being kids from the 1980s, we are clueless about Great World Amusement Park. Hence we will be greatful if you (or any others who come across this website) can drop us an email with more details of Great World.

I can be contacted at xiuting_chia@hotmail.com


THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Wow a lot of sweet memories, I stay in Kim seng road no.218. The pre war house that faced River Valley English school. I attended the school at Kim seng east primary and Kim seng technical school. Since 1974 which is my primary One days, always love to go to Great World to watch Jacky Chan early movies. I remember a year in which they exhibit the moon rocks at Globe or Sky cinema. I always like to drinks stall beside Time house.

Chee keong

Selatke said...

James Seah mentions the "Three Worlds", namely the Great World, the New World, and the Gay World (originally called the Happy World).

Actually there was another 'World' called the Beauty World. It was located in Upper Bukit Timah and, like the Great World, has been developed into the Beauty World Plaza on the same site.

I can find little information on Beauty World, although I heard of it when I was a kid in the 1950s and read about the first post-war getai opening there (the original getai or song stage, not the type performing during the Hungry Ghost month).

Beauty World is not even mentioned in the encyclopedic "Singapore: The Encyclopedia". How memory fades.

Lam Chun See said...

Dear Setlake,

If you want to find out more about the Beauty World @ Bukit Timah 7th Mile, you have come to the right place. As far back as 2006, my friends and I have already blogged about it. You can read our stories here:

1) Tom O'brien Remembers Beauty World.

2) My own memories of Beauty World

3) Additional info on Beauty World

Selatke said...

Thanks, Chun See, for the blogs and comments on the Beauty World.

You would agree that those reminiscences do not tell much about what went on inside the BW, compared with the excellent write-up and comments on the Great World.

I think the golden age of BW was in the 1950s. From then on, with the keen competition from the other three Worlds and its location far from the City, BW began its decline.

I hope BW gets a mention in future writings about the 'Worlds' in Singapore.

Selatke said...

I have a few comments after reading the blogs and comments relating to the Great World Amusement Park.

I think Stanley mixed things up when he said the wrestler King Kong and the striptease dancer Rose Chan performed at the Great World. My recollection is that both performed at the New World. This is confirmed by the Wikipedia article on the New World. I lived near the New World when I was little, and even my amah knew about the 400-pound Hungarian King Kong.

People who wrote seem to be interested mainly in the cinemas. I wonder why no one wrote about the getais in the Great World. At one time there were three getais (I don't know their English names but in Chinese they were 夜花园,桃花江 and 百乐门)fiercely competing with one another.

They performed on enclosed, permanent stages and not on open temporary stages like today's getais. The audience sat at tables and had to buy drinks in lieu of admission fees. Performers are professionals (some became recording and movie stars) and there were live combos playing violin, piano, drums, trumpet, etc. My maternal uncle and neighbour 'uncles' brought me to attend many of these, mostly at the Happy World and Great World. Perhaps because I was at that time educated half the day in an English school and half the day in a Chinese school that I was able to understand and enjoy the songs, skits and dramas put up by those getais.

xuan lin Eng said...

Hi Mr Lam Chun See,

I have left you a facebook message on your facebook page and also a message for you on Hangouts. I would love if you could help me and my team out for our article on Singapore's past. I hope to get a reply from you soon. Thank You very much.