November 23, 2012

Nang Chong Stories : When a Foochow Man permed his hair

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 Names like Peter and Guys, Alan Inspiration superceded Palace Hair Salon or Mui Mui Hair Salon.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.



8 comments:

Anonymous said...

今天不回家 has been banned for a long time, because it seems to encourage people to go into the jungle as communists, instead of staying home.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi,
I haven't heard that!! I thought it was for men who cried out they would be away being "entertained"...Now I have something new to research!!

mezzo solo said...

i do not know it was banned. it was sung by huang qing yuan not liu jia chang ...unless i am wrong.'

great hit.

Ann said...

my aunt persuaded my Ah Pek to perm his hair in 1990s, just like a PAI KIA.

I permed for my Singapore friend in Canada, it was so frizzy, he unpermed it.

Ann said...

Chang Yi, have I ever told you this, my aunty's shop before was at the back of Chin Feng bookshop, where the bus station was, I was in between back from Canada to NZ soon. My aunt suggested I learn a bit of hairdressing first, she said will earn big bucks, at least got job in Auckland. first like all girls, start with shampoo girl. The most popular was her niece from the ngieng side. When I got proficient, I could wash customer's hair. One day, this man came and wanted the Ngieng cousin. She was busy, so my uncle told me to clean his man's hair. i think he was sulking, I was scare too. The soapy water dripped to his face, and he was very angry and upset, and started to scold me. I didn't want to do it any more. My uncle told him, she is a graduate, be patient with her, He said Graduate my foot. What is a graduate being a shampoo girl. My uncle said, she is my aunty's niece and explained. Then my uncle joked, you should actually give her a bonus. Whose else could boast that he was shampooed by a university graduate. You can check with the hair dressing association, there is a copy of Hairstylist under my name. LOL.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Mezzo Solo, thanks for the correction. Yes,,I made a mistake..Huang Qing Yuan it is...I persoanlly love Liu Jia Chang so much that almost every chinese song seems to be sung by him....hehehe thanks.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes indeed. Pai Kia look.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

LOL...men have very poor opinion of women...whatever...when the women make mistakes. swear and cuss

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