Punggol restaurant's 'chicken dance' waitress just wants to have fun

Madam Loh Feng Ling has mixed feelings about her newfound fame after a video of her doing the “chicken dance" at a Punggol restaurant went viral. She talks about being in the spotlight and gamely tries out the latest viral dance moves.
In the video, Madam Loh Feng Ling dances while, step by step, explaining the $38 flambe chicken dish she is serving. She ends her presentation with a shake and shimmy and the line in Mandarin: "I hope I have gained your satisfaction."
In the video, Madam Loh Feng Ling dances while, step by step, explaining the $38 flambe chicken dish she is serving. She ends her presentation with a shake and shimmy and the line in Mandarin: "I hope I have gained your satisfaction."ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Video of her jiving while serving has had over 1m views since it was uploaded on Aug 23

Tell Madam Loh Feng Ling she is an Internet star, and she breaks into a bashful smile before appearing to laugh it off.

Yet the 52-year-old waitress recently became red-hot on social media after a Facebook video of her performing a "chicken dance" at Punggol restaurant House of Seafood as she served up a flambe chicken dish went viral.

The clip has had more than a million views since it was uploaded by a customer on Aug 23.

Madam Loh even has a "stage" moniker - "Appl Loh", reads her name tag. "It's 'Apple' without the 'e'," she explains in Mandarin.

"I do it just for laughs."

Despite that, she also asks: "Did I dance well? Do you like it?"

She wants to know what kind of comments were made online about the dance, adding that she has even asked for feedback from her eldest daughter, who is 21, on what her friends have said about the clip.

"They ask my daughter: 'Why is your mum dancing so vigorously at this age?'" she says, almost ruefully.

Madam Loh then brings up a recent anecdote. "A customer told my colleague that one of my dances was not as good as usual," she recalls. "Perhaps I was lacking a bit of energy that day."

It is clear the opinions of others matter to Madam Loh.

When she is shown the clip again, she does not flinch or squirm in discomfort. Instead, she calmly dissects her moves.

"My dancing and serving technique can improve. I rate myself a 70 out of 100 here. I can do better," says Madam Loh, who attributes her love for song and dance to eight years spent working as a karaoke joint supervisor while in her 20s.

In the clip, she looks focused despite the frivolity of the situation and her outlandish moves. Step by step, she also explains the $38 dish, and ends the shake and shimmy with a line in Mandarin: "I hope I have gained your satisfaction."

It appears her desire to please the crowd extends beyond the dining table to social media, where, unfortunately, some people are less kind.

Madam Loh does not have a Facebook account and uses WhatsApp only occasionally. The first time she got wind of her viral video was when her boss, Mr Francis Ng, told her about it a day or two after the clip was uploaded.

 

For a middle-aged, self-proclaimed auntie - she readily introduces herself as "chicken auntie" in the video, as well as in a text message to The Sunday Times - Internet fame can be a scary and unknown experience.

The overnight popularity, to her, is beyond her expectations, and a mixed bag. "There are different kinds of comments, both good and bad - just like how you have short and long fingers, and fat and slim people," she reasons.

But she admits she is slightly affected by the negative comments.

Some netizens think she should leave such sprightly moves to the young, as if jiving were illegal for the middle-aged. Some question why she is having to do this to earn a living, assuming that she is in desperate straits.

They also snipe at her employer, who they think is forcing Madam Loh to do this at work.

But the real reason? Sometimes girls just want to have fun.

"When the music starts, I just feel like dancing," says Madam Loh, who has three daughters who she calls her "treasures".

Her eldest recently started working in sales, the middle one is in junior college and the youngest in primary school.

Her husband, who is in his 50s, works for a renovation company, and the family lives in a four-room Housing Board flat in Punggol. He sometimes drops her off at work on his motorbike.

As she has to take care of the home and cook for the children, she works at the restaurant for just three days a week, six hours a day from 5pm to 11pm.

Mr Ng, who is also the owner of the restaurant, clarifies that the jig was Madam Loh's creation, after he decided in May to play the music to entertain customers when the dish is served.

He is bemused by the huge stir. "How can something so simple be so popular?" he says.

But Mr Ng, 46, pleased with the publicity, gave Madam Loh a red packet for her efforts. He estimates business has improved 50 per cent since the video was uploaded, and says there are now snaking queues and even people wanting to take a photo with Madam Loh, who does her dance more than 10 times a day.

Mr Ng has even created a Facebook page for her called Chickendancingaunty.

Other waitresses at the restaurant, such as Ms Joey Lee, 29, have also been doing their own take of the chicken dance.

Describing Madam Loh as very active and positive, Ms Lee says: "At her age, she's very brave to dance like that but it makes people really happy. We call her the auntie that loves to gao xiao (Mandarin for making people laugh)."

For customers like businessman Sam Soh, 46, Madam Loh's moves give a welcome lift from life's drudgery. "I thought it was the restaurant that made her do it at first. It takes guts to do," he says. "It's really nice, a small happiness in life."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 02, 2018, with the headline ''Chicken' waitress just wants to have fun'. Print Edition | Subscribe