Cabaret dancers like Rose Chan were famous. But what were their lives really like?
Rose Chan was the best known of the women who worked in the cabarets in Singapore in the 1940s and 50s. In this documentary, her ex-boyfriend reveals what she was like as a person, while the daughter of a former cabaret girl talks about growing up in that milieu.
This documentary is based on the essay “Beneath the Glitz and Glamour: The Untold Story of the ‘Lancing Girls’”. It was written by award-winning author Adeline Foo and published in the Jan–Mar 2017 issue of BiblioAsia.
Beneath the Glitz and Glamour: The Untold Story of the “Lancing Girls”
These cabaret girls were better known for their risqué stage shows, but some also donated generously to charity. Adeline Foo uncovers these women with hearts of gold.
Old-world Amusement Parks
Theme parks in Singapore had their heyday from the 1920s to 50s. Lim Tin Seng charts their glory days and subsequent decline.
When Women Were Commodities
Brothels in colonial Singapore, with its large male migrant population, did a roaring trade. Adeline Foo examines the lives of the unfortunate girls and women who were sold into prostitution.
Gay World (Happy World)
Gay World was one of three amusement parks built in Singapore before World War II and around which Singapore’s nightlife revolved from the 1920s to the 60s. It featured a variety of entertainment including cabaret, operas, movies, gaming, sport matches, stunts and shopping.
Great World Amusement Park
Great World Amusement Park was one of the three “Worlds” that lighted up Singapore’s nightlife in the 1950s and 60s. Although it closed in 1964, cinemas, cabaret and restaurants continued operations at the park until 1978.
New World Park
Opened in 1923, New World Park, an amusement park, was a popular nighttime haunt in Singapore from the 1920s to the 60s. In its heyday, New World had open-air cinemas, cabarets, opera halls, shops and restaurants.
Adeline Foo, Lancing Girls of a Happy World (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2017).
Kua Kia Soong, The Chinese Schools of Malaysia: A Protean Saga (Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia: Malaysian Centre for Ethnic Centre, New Era College, 2008).
Cecil Rajendra, No Bed of Roses: The Rose Chan Story (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2013).
James F. Warren, Ah Ku and Karayuki-san: Prostitution in Singapore, 1870–1940 (Singapore: NUS Press, 2003).