SINGAPORE 60's: ANDY'S POP MUSIC INFLUENCE: ON THE MUSIC N MEMORY TRAIL IS MY OWN BLOG N ROLL PROJECT. NOSTALGIA IS PERSONAL HISTORY N PICTURES TELL STORIES. (I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO YOU-TUBE VIDEOS, AUDIO TRACKS OR IMAGES. THEY ARE UPLOADED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY. MOST ARTICLES AND SOME IMAGES ARE ORIGINAL, COPYRIGHTED AND LABELLED SUCH. KNOWLEDGE IS FREE. COPYRIGHTS ARE NOT. ANDY YOUNG. November, 2008).





Monday, July 10, 2017

Rum & Coke: Singapore 60's Favorite Drink

The Dance:
In Singapore 60's, Saturday nights were called golden nights because it was the time when pop bands were playing at most of the night spots in Singapore. My friends and I would meet and proceed to one and since we lived on the East Coast, it was usually the Paya Lebar Airport nightclub with its tiny dance floor or the Ambassador at Meyer Road. The latter had a choice of two dance venues. We would go to listen to the latest songs, to dance and to buy a drink or two. 

There was also a joke running around those years, that boys and girls were hugging each other tightly on the floor rather than dance because the waltz and slow foxtrot were an excuse to do so. Instead of dancing the couples were actually lam-sing (translated lam in a Chinese dialect is to hold or hug). 

So during quieter moments when the band played sentimental melodies the dance floor would be packed. All the more for a squeeze. Cliff Richard's, When The Girl In Your Arms and The Shadows, Midnight would be the favourites. Soft slow, caressing music...


But there was the rhumba, samba, mambo or the cha-cha. Except for the cha-cha and the off-beat version, the other dance-steps didn't make a difference to many of us. 

The Drink:
The ladies would usually have a lemonade or an orange juice with ice. For the men, it's mostly beer or an alcoholic mix.  It was always Bacardi Coke for me. I've heard of Tequila but never touched it. In fact, it was so popular, that like Rum and Coca-Cola, there was a song dedicated to the strong and crazy drink, Tequila by a group called the Champs.

A teetotaller my whole life, I have always stuck to drinking only Barcadi Coke because it was the only drink I knew. Never had a chance to drink other mixes like Gin and lime or Soda and Whisky. Always loved my drink sweet and I was told I could get diabetes if I drank too much Rum n Coke.

I knew the taste so well that there were times when the bartender gave me an adulterated mix of the cheapest rum. But I had always asked for another glass, with the real thing and true brown that is dark rum. But without the slice of lemon.

Invented at the beginning of the 20th Century, this drink became so famous that it is only known as Rum and Coke in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, India and Singapore. In other parts of the world, it's Cuba Libre - not Canta Libre, which is a Neil Diamond song.


The Song:
The drink was so well received by the public in Singapore and the world, that almost every nightclub carried the concoction. In fact, there is even a song by a well-known vocal group called The Andrew Sisters. 

Drinkin' Rum and Coca Cola
Go down Point Koomahnah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar
Oh, beat it, man, beat it...*


It is a very old song with a Calypso beat and composed in 1945 but became popular through the years as the drink would have. Singers like Chubby Checker, Julio Iglesias and Wanda Jackson had recorded it. The original version by the Andrew Sisters had been recorded three times on three different labels, Decca, Capitol and DOT.

This article is an Original Composition.
The Ambassador Hotel at Tanjong Katong by the East Coast beach. It has since been demolished.

*Songwriters
AL STILLMAN, JERI SULLAVAN, MOREY AMSTERDAM, PAUL BARON

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Song Discussions is protected by U.S. Patent 9401941. Other patents pending.
Video from: beyoncetyratina.

When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart. Cliff Richard Video by rich963.

48 comments:

LIM KUAN MIN said...

juices

MUN CHOR SENG said...

Only beer.

JOHN CHER (WRITER/ PERCUSSIONIST) said...

Perrier water with slices of lemon, if available. Cheers.

SPYeo (a frequent contributor) said...

In my youth, Rum and Coke on the rocks. Now no party, just soft/hot beverage for socialised dinner.

JERRY SARAM said...

Nowadays it is red wine. In my younger days it was beer. Later I switched to whisky and water. My favourite cocktail was John Collins.

JIMMY CHNG (THE DECIBALS BAND) said...

I'm more of a teetotaller... fruit juice or at most punch.

TONY QUEK (LEADER: MYSTERIANS) said...

Good Scotch on the Rocks.

AUDIE NG (LEADER, BASSIST 'SILVER STRINGS') said...

Teh oh, less sugar or plain water. Weird for a musician n businessman. Don't drink n smoke.

JAMES KWOK said...

fruit punch

PATRICK CHAN (BAND LEADER, LEAD GUITARIST 'THE PATRICIANS') said...

Hi Andy,
good reminiscent. Actually, when we go to a nite spot in the 60s, it's not such much for the drinks but to see the band n 'lamsing' as you said. For some, they don't really know what bar drinks to order. So following others was a safe bet without looking 'sua ku' (a country boy).

Yes, I remembered Bacardi n rum coke were top of the list. But if you want to be a bit 'sekit atas' then you order 'gin tonic' to impress the girls. lol. Surely you will get one or two asking 'what drink is that'. So this drink is an ice-breaker that gets you up close with the girls for the evening.

Now you know why Gin Tonic has been my favourite pouring ever since.

Andy, next time you try order gin tonic and see what happens. For the girls, if you want to be seen as a sophisticated you order baby cham.

RICHARD TEO said...

The late 1960s, Talk Of The Town. My first experience of a Disco and "Bacardi Coke".

STEPHEN HAN said...

I remembered dancing at the Ambassador Hotel and the Paya Lebar Airport.Rum Coke and Baby Champagne were the drinks of choice.I also recalled the sexy and lovely stripper, Eva Kim from South Korea shedding her clothes though not totally naked. I learned she bared all in private functions.

There was also a dance venue at West Point. Another one was at the Singapore Hotel where the City Plaza now stands.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks to all for sharing and comments, Jennie, Leslie for LIKE and Patrick, Richard and Stephen for the information.

Patrick, you must have been popular with the ladies too. Now I remember Baby Cham.

Yes, Richard, I remember the name, Talk Of The Town but can't place where it was.

And Stephen didn't know about Eva Kim. She must have been very popular with the regulars.😁

GEORGE CHEW (LEAD GUITAR: THE BURNS) said...

Beer and wine.

PETER LIM said...

Those the fun old days in Singapore, Andy!! So much fond memories😆😆

MARK FROM TSL said...

Singapore Sling, Lime and Vodka or Fruit Juice. Boring right?

BILLY LOH said...

West Point (open air) Singapore Hotel, Pasir Ris hotel where my near neighbour pianist Henry Chin's band was the resident band and the singer were British and my favourite haunt, The Golden Venus.

JOEY KOH said...

Barcadi Coke.

LESLIE WILSON JOSEPH said...

My late dad was a Katong boy and the family often went there for special occasions when we moved from Queenstown back to his old stomping ground.

ZUL SUTAN said...

TALK OF THE TOWN WAS ON HIGH STREET. NEAR TMA. I PLAYED THERE ONCE IN '74.

HI ANDY, NO BAND THEN.WAS A SOLO SINGER. 17 YRS. OLD AND JUST STARTING OUT. KEN OF KEN'S MUSICARAMA WAS MY AGENT.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

This post about drinks and dance is one of the most popular with immediate responses from friends and readers alike.

It's a record actually, 20 comments within a few hours of publishing this story.

Thank you all for your wonderful stories, memories and replies to the FB posting and WhatsApp SMSes.

STEPHEN HAN said...

Tea dance at the Celestial Room at the Amber Mansion and the Pink Panther.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

to Zul Sutan

Yes, and well-known too. I mistook you for Ramli Sarip with Sweet Charity. Sorry, bro. Masrom (Yong) played with us (SS) before he passed on 3 days later (2008).

Unknown said...

Haha ... we all blur country bumpkin just order what other people order. The only thing I knew was B&C.

PETER WYTHE said...

Shuffling around the smallest dance floor in Singapore at Gino's a go go to the sound of the Beach Boys " God Only Knows". Sunday tea dance at Golden Venus good bands but invariably fighting would break out between drunken soldiers

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you, Peter, for insight. Interesting scene you described. I can imagine the ruckus. Could drunken soldiers be the result of excessive rum coke and beer? Just a boy's night out...

MICHAEL BANGAR (RHYTHMIST SILVER STRINGS said...

Red wine! But not necessarily. Whatever is available. Beer or white wine can, but gave up spirits a long time ago. Soft drink: fruit punch.

CHARLIE YAP (LOCOMOTION) said...

Hi Andy,
Sorry for the late reply. I've no favourite drinks, as I'm allergic to alcohol. So just normal, plain water will do.
Cheers.

ZAINAL ABIDIN (LEADER, BASSIST, 'THE DUKES') said...

Allergic to beer and hard drinks.

EDWIN GOH said...

BEER

CYLIN (BLOG CONTRIBUTING WRITER) said...

Andy, in those years, did many ladies take to liquor? I was no night bird - had a very strict father. It was only when I started working that I did go to West Point in Pasir Panjang a couple of times. Don't remember if I tried any hard drinks. Years later, some lady friends introduced me to Campari and Seven-Up. Even then I didn't take to that well -developed some kind of allergy.

So you can imagine a situation in New Zealand when I attended dinners with the Kiwis. When asked to drink, I declined - giving the reason that I would develop a rash. When offered coffee at the end of the meal, I said no - I won't be able to sleep. I asked for 'Adam's Ale' - warm. What a 'suaku' from Singapore.

Today I quite enjoy ice-cream with some liqueur such as Lychee Martini, Kahlua Krunch, Baileys Choc Chips from Daily Scoop.

HORACE WEE (PROFESSIONAL GUITARIST said...

Now I think of it. Every time for drink orders I'd hear Rum & Coke from someone. And the non-drinkers order a "garner" ???

Always amused to hear that. Never figured out what went into that. It was a fruit punch though.

IRIS POH said...

Wine.

IOLEEN CHIA (DRUMMER/SINGER/ RHYTHMIST. FROM THE TEEPEES, GIRLS' BAND) said...

COKE.

MS. SCS said...

Anything portable. In the past, long long ago Singapore Sling, Rum, Brandy or Bacardi.

JERRY FERNANDEZ (FRONTS THE NEU FACES) said...

Brother Andy - I prefer only hot beverages - otherwise warm water.

OLIVER BALASINGAM (FORMER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, DRUMMER WITH SILVER STRINGS) said...

Punch ha, ha.

Ooi CH said...

Any Whisky On The Rocks.

SUNNY ONG said...

No favourite, most plain drinks, except liquors.

SAM said...

Any non-alcoholic drink.

PETER WYTHE said...

Tiger & Anchor to blame - Smashed as rats on a Sunday afternoon no less!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Now that's a term I haven't heard for ages, Peter. With so much Singlish around, I forgot the real deal about Anglo-Saxon phrases. Thank you for writing.

DAVEY DERBY (CLIFF's SONG) said...

Taught a very good friend to play this for his wife on there wedding anniversary. The waltz tempo is so beautiful within this song. I believe they had a dance around the living room.

DOV BARLEIB utube said...

The Andrew Sisters were good enough that they did not need to culturally appropriate anyone. They just sang better and with more impressive harmony than everyone else in almost all musical genres including the genres of foreign cultures. From Jazz to Operatic to Blues to the Caribbean Islands, the Sisters Andrew simple did it better! pure and simple.

FACEBOOK ANDY said...

THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING FOR LIKING THIS POST

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HAPPY TAY (VANCOUVER, CANADA) said...

Till today it's still one of my favourite drinks. My drinking 'kakis' all know about it because I usually keep a small bottle of rum in my pocket most of the time.

YUSNOR EF (Lyricist, Author, Lecturer, Cultural Medallion Winner, Singapore) said...

No special drink as long as there is no alcohol.

FABIAN FOO (VIDEO CAM ENTHUSIAST) said...

I drink beer or wine (prefer white).