Bugis Street - Singapore

 

 

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There is nothing particulary odd about the content of this webpage, except there is not one female in any of the photos shown here.

 

The once world famous Bugis Street Of Singapore was high on the list of 'must visits' for an adventurous sailor. It was probably the hub of Singapore nightlife at one stage, especially in the 60's & 70's. Among all the other things to do and see in Bugis Street there was always the nightly parade of Kai Tais, or 'Beaney Boys' as we referred them, which was very much the highlight of the evening. 

 

They would leave their community in Jalan Geylang just before midnight and mysteriously and magically appear from the street's dark fringes around midnight. Strutting ever so femininely up and down in full view of the tourists and sailors alike, as if they were walking a catwalk in Paris. You can imagine the cacophony of wolf whistles and lewd comments from the mostly intoxicated spectators. So what is so unusual about all this? Maybe not much today in the new Milennium, but then, all these glamorous women were in fact, men - yes - transvestites! or as we called them Beaney Boys or Kai Tais.

 

On most occasions there would be many hundreds of people in Bugis Street after midnight. Locals, tourists, soldiers, sailors and airmen. Especially so when the UK, New Zealand and Australia all had permanent Army Regiments Stationed in Singapore at Nee Soon, on top of the thousands of Matelots a bit further up the road in Sembawang.

 

In a word - Bugis Street used to fairly "Jump", and it was virtually 'anything goes' until the mid to late 70's when the Singaporean Authorities decided to 'clean it up'. From then on it became very sanitized and was never quite the same. Thats progress I guess.

 

The many forms of entertainment included - Boat Races (drinking competitions, usually against all comers), singing comptetions (usually against the Poms and Kiwis), drunkenly playing noughts and crosses with quick witted young Singaporean kids and getting fleeced, fights (mainly against the NZ and British Army), firework fights, and of course cavorting with the Beaney Boys.

 

It was also always a good place to get a decent feed for the place was surrounded by "Makan Stalls" which dispensed Nasi Goreng, Mah Mee and Chilli Crab etc., through to the wee small hours. Because the Beanie Boy Parade didn't really commence until after midnight it was normal custom to drink in the Sembawang Bars, 15 miles to the North, until about 11:30 PM, as all the bars, by law, closed at this time anyway, then hop in a Singapore 'cab' and take the hair raising ride down Thompson Road into China Town in the city, maybe stopping at Nee Soon along the way to pick up some Dim Sum.

 

Many a matelot would drink his way into the dawn of a new day, watching the sun come up over 'The Straz', 'Bugistraza' or Bugis Street. Whilst the locals would be busy shutting down their gas lanterns, packing up their tables and chairs, wheeling away their food and 'trinket' carts and clearing the street for another business day, where it once again reverted to a thoroughfare for motor vehicles.

 

And the Beanies, disappear once again during the light of day, back to their humble abodes in Geylang where they manicure and preen getting ready for another night of exhibitionism down "The Straza"..

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