A peek into the past of Singapore’s raciest streets

The chequered backstories of some of the country’s infamous thoroughfares, such as Smith Street and Bugis Street, shed a reddish-tinged light on their beginnings.

The “girls” of Bugis Street (left) and striptease star Rose Chan at a private event in the 1950s. PHOTOS: MR AND MRS LEE KIP LEE COLLECTION
Karayuki-san, or Japanese women from poor prefectures trafficked overseas to serve as sex workers, in Singapore in the 1870s to 1880s. PHOTO: MR AND MRS LEE KIP LEE COLLECTION
Dancing girls and staff of New World Cabaret in 1938. PHOTO: MR AND MRS LEE KIP LEE COLLECTION
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

SINGAPORE – The spotlight is on sex and the city after recent reports that nightclubs and bars in Orchard Towers will shutter for the last time by May 2023.

In July, the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department notified the owners that it will not be issuing public entertainment licences to 12 commercial units in the development at the fringe of Orchard Road, citing concerns over public safety, vice activities and nuisance. This was after nightlife businesses were allowed to reopen only in April, after closing for two years as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.