Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tropical Affairs: Last Tango at the Runnymede

The Indochine Tango Dancers.  standing Robert Raymer, Joelle St-Arnoult, Angela and Lee Clark; seated Anni Nordmann, Andre Cluzaud, Laurence, Seibert Kubsch

Anni Nordmann, Robert Raymer and Joelle St-Arnoult

Anni Nordmann, Robert Raymer and Joelle St-Arnoult
The ballroom of the Runnymede Hotel had been chosen by the Penang Heritage Trust for its ‘Spirit of the Twenties’ Dinner and Dance gala that lured the tango dancers from Indochine out of retirement. Built on the site of the house that once belonged to Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore; the Runnymede boasted one of the finest ballrooms this side of the Suez Canal. Famous for its high ceilings, polished wood floor, stained glass window and resplendent chandeliers, the ballroom’s heyday was back in the 1920’s when it competed with its arch rival, the E & O Hotel.

Although it had been well over a year since the filming, five of the original tango dancers were still living in Penang: Lee and Angela Clark, Joelle Saint-Arnoult, Anni Nordmann and I. After dusting off our dancing shoes, we slipped into our 20’s style costumes. I had even grown a moustache and had my hair plastered down as was done in the film. We gave, as one of the 380 guests put it, “a dazzling performance befitting the occasion.”

Later that evening, a contest was held for the best dressed male and female. No less than four of the five tango dancers were nominated and two of them walked off with the top prizes, Angela Clark and I.

No wonder that during the filming of Indochine, while everyone else was busy trying to sneak a photograph of Catherine Deneuve, she took a picture of us – the tango dancers.
-excerpt from "Last Tango at the Runnymede" from Tropical Affairs: Episodes of an Expat's Life in Malaysia.

 Here are links to The Chistmas Party scene and the Racing Boat scene.

*Looks like I have another French connection.  Lovers and Strangers Revisited, my collection of short stories set in Malaysia, has been translated into French by Éditions GOPE!

**Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited, my collection of short stories set in Malaysia

***Update: Book orders for Trois autres Malaisie  E-book orders.  Or recommend it to your friends, especially those who would like to know more about Malaysia or have an interest in Southeast Asia.
Here's a link to the intro and excerpts, and to four reviews of Trois Autres Malaisie in,,, and Petit Futé mag.

****Here’s an update to the French blog about Trois autres Malaisie and my meeting the French translator Jerome Bouchaud in Kuching, and my involvement in a French documentary for Arte (June 2017) on The Sensual Malaysia of Somerset Maugham.

Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:

Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.

Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.

Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day

Chuah Guat Eng,  author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change. 


Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I 

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