Category: Muar History & Story

Sounds of a bygone era

There were three most happening streets in town during the 1950s through the 70s, where neon lights and music were the order of the day especially after nightfall.

Jalan Shahbandar, the main street in Muar, Jalan Meriam and Jalan Ali used to be a hive of activity during the olden days.

Artistic atmosphere

The once popular musical troupes and drama organisations could be found along these three streets. Having flourished for almost two decades, concerts, theatrical performances and street parades had given rise to countless of mesmerising cultural events in town, making Muar a reputable city of culture.

Unfortunately, traditional folklore and culture fail to resist the impact of time. With the increasing popularity of TV and radio programs, musical troupes have seen steady decline since the 80s.

Retired principal cum writer Zhang Fatt, who used to be a member of the Jiao Qiao Drama Club and the Zhang Quan Association Orchestra Band, recalled the rise and fall of recreational activities back then.

Zhang said in the absence of TV and radio back in the 1960s, young people actively took part in local cultural activities while local clan associations such as Yong Chun Association, Teochew Association and Zhang Quan Association would strive to promote their ancestral cultures among the younger generation.

He pointed out that Feng Shan Hotel with a hair saloon and a set-up that taught ancient Chinese music downstairs, used to be located along Jalam Meriam.

“Opposite the hotel was Nan Ting Shan Tang Mutual Aid Association which provided lessons in genuine Teochew orchestra music while Jiao Qiao Drama Club located opposite Nan Ting was more of a modern drama, choir and orchestra set-up.

Jiao Qiao was quite popular in Muar back in those days and the group indeed groomed some truly exceptional musicians.

The most thriving streets

Zhang Quan Association later set up its own harmonica and orchestra groups.

Zhang said Ru Yue Association along Jalan Ali was specialised in ancient Chinese dramas.

“The cultural activities in Muar were very competitive and this had boosted the overall standards of stage performances in town.”

To show off the results of their hard work, the various groups would take part in street parades during major festivals or the Sultan’s coronation.

Notably, the various musical bands constantly strived to improve their presentations.

Main road (Jalan Shahbandar): Weng Chun Association Band was established on January 1, 1965 and on the same day two years later, it set up its marching band which later performed in a number of government and temple celebrations and was recognised as an outstanding team.

In addition, the association also set up a guitar group which subsequently trained many renowned local singers and had been invited to perform all around the world.

Jalan Meriam: During the heyday of local cultural events, the ground floor of Feng Shan Hotel was used for teaching of Hokkien music “Nan Yin Jin Qu.” Many Hokkien drama artistes were trained here.

Nan Ting Music Group was set up to provide training in Teochew music .

Established in 1920, Jiao Qiao Drama Club believed that operas played a pivotal role in educating the public during the olden days.

Jalan Ali: Located in one of the old shophouses, Ru Yue She was an amateur organisation that excelled not only in traditional Chinese drama but also Chinese orchestra.

Zhang Quan Association’s harmonica team was popular among the townsfolks and was frequently invited to perform for the local radio station.

[Courtesy of]

Category: Muar History & Story