A GETAI EXPERIENCE AT MACPHERSON

It’s this time of the year again – Ghost Festival (中元节) and Getai (歌台).

In one of my previous postings, I have written that I had very little exposure on Getai, and had only watched one or two very briefly in my neighbourhood, in the past.  The recent Getai Challenge (歌台星力量) programme on TV did somehow arouse my slight interest in Getai, and so I thought I should try to go catch one or two this Ghost Festival.

I know there are many Getais taking place island-wide during the Ghost Festival, but I wasn’t sure where to get all the relevant information to decide where to go to until I heard about the 4-night Getai by LEX(S) Entertainment and Productions (丽星娱乐制作) at 韭菜芭城隍庙中元会 (in Macpherson) on radio, on Wednesday (26 Aug) morning.  So, hubby and I found our way there that night.

Arriving there before 8pm (about an hour after the programme started), we could still spot quite many empty seats here and there although the attendance was high.  I noticed that those empty seats were choped (a Singlish word meaning reserved) with something like newspapers put on them.  It took us a while to finally manage to find two seats separated apart with a couple in between us.  I tried to negotiate with the wife to shift one seat to the right/left so that my hubby could sit together with me.  She refused, citing the reason that her view would be blocked by the person in front.  I knew that was a crap because the seat in front was empty!  On my left, there was an old lady sitting on two chairs!  I also tried to request her to let me have one seat but she said her friend was coming.   The truth was, I have overheard her telling someone that her friend was not coming anymore and the seat actually remained empty through out!  So that was one not-so-nice experience.  Why did these aunties behave so selfishly?

That night, the Getai was hosted by Hao Hao (皓皓) , Li Pei Fen (李佩芬)and Zheng Ying Ying (郑盈盈).  There were quite a number of singers, each sang about 2-3 songs, either in Cantonese, Hokkien or Mandarin.  Except Hao Hao and MediaCorp artist Chen Tian Wen (陈天文), we were not familiar with the rest of the singers and their singing.  Never mind about that though, since we were there to get an experience with a real outdoor Getai.

The three emcees for the night (left to right) : Hao Hao, Zheng Ying Ying and Li Pei Fen.  Emceeing aside, they also changed a few sets of costumes during the night. 

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Performance by singers such as Fu Qing Ling (符庆铃)、Lin Shi Ling (林诗玲), Zhong Ping & Zhong Jin Ling (钟平 & 钟金玲) and Huang Hao Feng (黄浩峰)

Fu Qing Ling (符庆铃)

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Lin Shi Ling (林诗玲)

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Zhong Ping & Zhong Jin Ling (钟平 & 钟金玲)

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Huang Hao Feng (黄浩峰)

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I can’t comment much about the performances that night since I am not familiar with the singers.  I felt that the mood  only got a little better when Chen Tian Wen made his appearance with two songs, including “Unbelievable” that shot him to fame recently.

Chen Tian Wen in his Elvis Presley’s outfit

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It finally reached the climax when Hao Hao took over the stage with 3 songs, including two renditions that he performed at the Getai Challenge.  Undoubtedly, he was the best that night.  He is definitely a Getai darling, and has won a very distinctive, loud applause for his performance.  We enjoyed his segment the best.

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Throughout the night, I observed that the audience, made up of largely senior citizens, were very inconsiderate.  They talked a lot and that was very annoying.  So, that was another not-so-nice encounter for the night.   It made me wonder if these people were actually there to enjoy the Getai or to talk.  If they wanted to talk or to catch up with friends, surely there is a better place than at the Getai!

We left after Hao Hao’s performance.  At least, he made us feel that our time spent that night was not so wasted.

On the following night, we actually went back to the same Getai for its final night there.  Some Taiwanese Hokkien singers were performing.  I didn’t know that Taiwanese singers come to perform at our Getai too, until I read about it recently.  So, I was keen to see how different their performance was.  The whole place was overly packed with people, so packed that many were standing, shoulder to shoulder very tightly.  I later read on newspaper that some 7,000 people were there that night!  There were a lot of pushing and rough actions among the standing crowds, as people tried to make their way out or get further in to have a better view.  I felt like a roly-poly toy being pushed around!  Why couldn’t the people behave in a more civilised manner?  It would have been better if the Getai organiser had a crowd control system (there was none at all) like having helpers to usher the crowds, designate proper space for standing audience, provide clear walking paths with barricades and provide a separate area slightly further away from the audience for the hawkers who were selling drinks and food.

The second night was definitely one terribly uncomfortable experience for us and we left after just two songs.

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