Friday, June 28, 2013

Joo Chiat Road

Joo Chiat Road is in the news again. The Sunday Times on 22nd June 2013 published an article "Changing face of Joo Chiat". It was stated that Joo Chiat has shaken off most of its sleaze that has come to be associated with it. The karaoke pubs and massage parlours which had proliferated in the last decade bringing scantily clad women and intoxicated patrons to the area. 

The sleaze has scaled down due to a number of factors. One was the enforcement actions by the police vice squad. It was reported in the newspapers on June 24th 2011 exactly 2 years ago 20 naked Vietnamese hostesses were caught during a police raid at Joo Chiat Road on Wednesday night. They were found by policemen serving the customers naked in a lounge with some having sex. Another factor is the ecomonic restructuring in Joo Chiat.  It was reported that the seedy establishment at its peak in 2004 had 44 karaoke bars and 38 massage parlours. According to the newspapers report there were about 15 such bars and 3 massage parlours left.

                              Joo Chiat Road KTV lounge

                Police raided a karaoke lounge at Joo Chiat Road

Vices in Joo Chiat is not new. Before the war there was prostitution in the area. Hotels doubled up as brothels to provide accommodations for the flesh trade. Some were caught and convicted in courts as shown below.


In the 1950/60s there were more hotels/brothels in the area. Girly bars lined both sides of Joo Chiat Road and Joo Chiat Place. The bar girls were mostly from Malaysia. Cigarettes were very cheap then and almost everyone smoked inside the bar filling the room with thick white smoke. Above the bars were rooms for massage and other services from the bar girls.

Operators of the vice trade were very innovative. They opened up man's hair saloon shop usually opposite the girly bars. Services in the saloon were hair cut/wash and body massage. Beer and stout were also available though illegal. If a client wanted privacy there was a curtain to go round the barber chair for seclusion. Who knows what went on behind the curtain.

There were licensed massage parlours too. Each room door had a rectangle glass window as a requirement. It was to allow the licensing inspector to see inside the room from a distance to prevent hanky panky business.

Then music lounge was introduced in Joo Chiat. There was a little stage with 3 piece live band and singers. When karaoke came to Singapore, the bigger bars updated to karaoke lounge with bright neon lights at the shop front. That was when the sleaze was seen openly on the five foot ways, roadsides etc.

New businesses such as Art Galleries, Design Studios, High-end Fashion and Décor shops have moved into the area.  All  Joo Chiat residents wanted to have a peaceful environment. Hope the sleaze in the area will die a natural death..

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Joo Chiat Past & Present

I started mychewjoochiat blog in 2008. Over the years many new residents wrote to me about Joo Chiat area especially about the past. They wanted to know more about the site where there were residing. I have posted Joo Chiat 'then and now'. I shall continue to post the same topic with pictures but at different sites. I am starting with he oldest building in Joo Chiat which was built in 1916.  Joo Chiat Road was then known as Confederates Estates Road. It was renamed as Joo Chiat Road in 1917.

The 1916 building is at the junction of Joo Chiat Road/East Coast Road

                             Photo credit to Lee Kip Lin and NHB   Picture taken in1993

                             The 1916 building has been upgraded. Picture taken on 12.0-6.2013