Giant bak chang steals the show at annual getai awards
Mexico has its Day of the Dead festival, Brazil has the Rio Carnival.
Singapore has the fun and glamorous getai. And, boy, was it glitzy last night at the annual Shin Min-Wanbao Getai Awards.
Imagine a giant "bak chang" (rice dumpling) spaceship being rolled out on stage to the song, Sio Bak Chang (hot rice dumpling), accompanied by a troupe of 35 dancers, to bursts of pyrotechnics.
And then veteran getai star Liu Lingling bursting out in a costume covered in LED lights.
That was just the opening act of an annual event which honours the best local getai talents in the entertainment scene here.
The hall at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre was filled to capacity with 6,000 people breaking into loud cheers as Liu made her grand entrance.
Local award-winning film-maker Royston Tan, 37, was the show's artistic director. He is the same man who, seven years ago, gave getai a new lease of life with his hit movie 881.
And he injected a huge dose of fun last night.
He told The New Paper: "This year is the seventh anniversary of 881 and I am pleased I was given the opportunity to revisit getai on a different level.
"I also wanted it to be really dramatic to mark (veteran getai star) Liu Lingling's entrance.
"Especially since she can finally make it this year. It also had to reflect the spirit of getai: Fun and glitzy."
Liu, 52, had missed the awards presentation for two years. And a baby just before last year's event meant she had to miss it again.
Last night she was radiant, with some assistance from LED lights.
Royston Tan had roped in local designer Phylia Poh to be the creative director and she came up with the two-in-one outfit for Liu.
She said: "I felt it had to be very loud and elaborate, almost magical. But we also had to incorporate a quick change for Lingling on stage (since she couldn't afford to go backstage to do that) for the second song.
"It would also offer a surprise element for the audience."
So Ms Poh, 49, came up with the idea of a "modernised red bak chang with a long tail" for the first outfit.
And as Liu slipped into the second song, One Person One Half, she "stripped" from the first outfit into a second costume made of sequinned lace and a netting material.
For both sets, Ms Poh also handstitched more than 100m of LED lights.
She said: "Lingling is really sporting to wear both gowns while waiting to perform. The props are very heavy and you can imagine how hot the lights are."
Indeed. Liu joked about it as she accepted her first award - Top 10 Most Popular Getai Artistes. She said: "Aiyah, I am 52 years old already, so no more battery. I need the lights to recharge."
Liu, who is also known for her wardrobe of elaborate costumes, also picked up the Best Costume Award.
Ms Tan Geok Keow, chairman of the organising committee and assistant editor of Central Integrated Newsroom, SPH's Chinese Newspapers Division, said: "The objective of this event is to raise the awareness of our local getai artistes and promote traditional Chinese culture."
Mr Aaron Tan, 38, summed up best how far getai has progressed.
Named Most Popular Getai Organiser for the fifth consecutive year, Mr Aaron Tan said: "In 2007 and today, Royston has added glamour and style to getai. In 2011, (sponsor) Cenosis gave us the chance to take getai to Orchard Road. And this year, we made it to the Chingay Parade."
Once better known as the youngest getai organiser at 25, Mr Aaron Tan added: "Thirteen years ago, when I decided to pursue my dream to preserve the culture of getai, there were people who laughed at my lofty ambition and discouraged me.
"But I persevered and with the support of friends and all the people in this industry, I am very happy that this dream has come true."
GETAI AWARDS WINNERS
10 Most Popular Getai Artistes:
Hao Hao, Li Peifen, Liu Lingling, Tian Yue, Baobei Sisters, Vanessa Voon, Yuan Jin, Josephine Lam, Sherraine Law (above) and Anderene Choo
Most Popular Newcomer:
Most Popular Getai Organiser:
Most Popular Band:
Most Popular Singer (Online Votes):
Best Male Emcee:
Best Female Emcee:
Best Female Getai Singer:
Best Male Getai Singer: