Friday, September 07, 2012

Getai [歌台] - Live Entertainment for the Hungry Ghosts during the 7th Lunar Month (农历七月)

Getai, which literally means song stage in Mandarin, is a unique cultural evolution limited only to Singapore and Malaysia and its religious purpose is to provide contemporary live entertainment for those hungry ghosts.

My interest in getai (and Hokkien songs) was ignited after i caught the local movie, 881. I have been wanting to blog about this since i got my DSLR but fate always seemed to prevent me from doing so!

Until two days ago that is! This shall be a pictorial post to make it less tortuous for readers who could not stand my bad English or prefer to concentrate solely on photographs!

Location: Northlink building in Sembawang (near to the Sembawang God of Fortune temple). A big temporary tent-age and stage were set up for the one-day event.

Time: Officially, it should be 7.30pm. Unofficially, i reached at 8.30pm and it was impossible to get any seats near the stage! I am sure some people would reach as early as 5.30pm to ensure they get the best seats!

Note: The first row of seats is not where the BEST seats are! Since the show is primarily staged for the hungry ghosts, the first row is especially reserved for "them".

The company that was engaged to stage the show; 丽星娱乐.

Star hosts like Liu Ling Ling (known as Lak Kong Kong, which means 6-0-0 in Hokkien) are under its charge and with 6-0-0 around, you are guaranteed for a night of laughter! 

Provided you can understand the conversation, which is predominantly in Hokkien; my dialect! 

Singing songs are part and parcel of getai and it is quite common to hear Chinese classics like Teresa Teng's songs and popular Hokkien songs although nowadays, it could generally be any song so long the masses can relate to them! 

A live band is a must in getai as they provide quick and spontaneous special sound effects peppering the conversations between the hosts and performers.

Most of us would not mind standing; so long we can get closer to the stage for a better look. 

View of the stage and tent-age. I was late but people continued to stream in!

Random: Offerings for the dead spotted behind the stage. Besides the joss sticks and candles, you would usually find biscuits and packets of tea leaves; hardly palatable fare in my opinion.

The crowd at this side of the stage was massive when you compared to the other side; all because it is where the coffee shop was located (and the ground is also flatter). 

You would likely see numerous hawkers (some illegal) selling stuff like deep fried fish balls, muah chee, artificial bird's nest drink etc. In this case, i guess the close proximity to the coffee shop and that the getai is staged within a commercial property means only ice cream is allowed.  

Some candid shots of 6-0-0 and Wang Lei (another notable host in the industry) bantering with one another. 

They were a hilarious pair and some of their jokes were quite sexual, resulting in chortling laughter from the audience. One segment was on drinking milk and i don't need to elaborate more on which part they were referring to! 

I am bad in estimating the number of people just by looking but i thought the turnout was pretty good for a place in an industrial estate.  

Flashy glimmering outfits, often hovering in the range of gaudiness, are to be expected in getai. However, 6-0-0 took the worst-dressed prize for her attire which was tied with bundles of coloured straws!

A sweet-looking gal was interviewed by Wang Lei before she began singing. She looked so young but has been performing for quite a number of years. 

Given that i have to work the next day, i have to cut short my visit. Nonetheless, i hope to catch the getai the next time it is staged in the cemetery! That location is absolutely appropriate for its targeted audience! 


For a list of getai schedules, please refer to the Chinese tabloid; Wan Bao (联合晚报).You may also check out the online listing here.

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