Sibu has its share of stories of hair perming salons. In the earlier days only women were hair dressers. The word perm derives from permanent. So when going to a hair salon to get one's hair permed it really means going to get a permanent hair wave.
Most Foochow women "before they were old" would love to look attractive. And during the frugal days of the past, most Foochow women from the villages would get their permanent wave only once a year just before the Chinese New Year.
My third aunt Pearl operated a Hair Salon Shop where I had my first perm when I was about 6!!
Town ladies had their hair permed more often. So hair perming was quite something in those days. When Foochow ladies felt that they were old, they would keep their hair long and have a bun. That was the time when they started wearing only black trousers and white or blue tops. They would also forgo wearing of florals and putting powder on their face.
Hair perming can be quite an experience because one has to sit in a very crowded small space.
However when Sibu caught up with Singapore, men hairdressers like Anthony opened their hair dressing salons. Names like Peter and Guys, Alan Inspiration superceded Palace Hair Salon or Mui Mui Hair Salon. While more trendy ladies would get their hair done by men like Anthony and Peter, the more conservative ladies kept going to their old friends. Palace Hair Salon for example has been our "family" hairdressers for three generations!! It is nice to go to Aunty and her daughter whenever I visit Sibu.
This photo shows how a permanent wave is done.
Now what about men who had their hair permed?
That's a very " entertaining era" in Sibu.
All of a sudden the timber boom of Sarawak brought about new money and new trends. Nang Chong men who worked in the timber camps came home with lots of money and they started going to the night clubs and get entertained by Taiwanese singers. Their wives could no longer control their behaviour any more. Liew Chia Chang sang, "Today I am not coming home.." Jin Tien Bu Hui Chia...which became really the catch phrase of those days.
And all of a sudden the men got their hair permed. Can you imagine the 1960's Foochow men looking like Phua Chu Kang?
They started wearing the brightly coloured Hawaiaan shrits
Many spotted jade rings on their fingers, to indicate they had lots of money.
white trousers were worn by many of these noveau riche Foochow men and they graced the noisy and lively nightclubs of Sibu like Merrido and Sarawak Hotel . It was quite a sight to watch the Foochow men looking like replicas of Elvis Presley..they had black hair but permed, with big buckles and white shoes..and we would all know that they were heading towards a night club for their XO.
and white shoes were the craze in those days.
Well in the era of the timber boom, every thing was LOUD...
And we younger ones really wonder whether anything could be Permanent or not.