SINGAPORE - There was no stripping of clothes or acrobatic dancing about a pole.
But the start of the Hungry Ghost Festival was still marked with a roaring, boisterous opening on Wednesday night.
When The New Paper visited a getai at the field in front of City Plaza, along Geylang Road, a crowd of about 300 had already gathered in front of a small stage.
On stage, singer Chen Xiao Xin, wearing what resembled the fashion featured in the getai film 881, was belting out Hokkien and Mandarin songs to thunderous applause and loud cheers.
While the 29-year-old performer wore a hot pink tank top and shorts with colourful ribbons wrapped about her midriff, it was nowhere as risque as some getai performances from last year.
TNP reported last September that getai performances have been getting more revealing, even in the heartland.
At one such getai in Sembawang then, performers shocked the audience with pole dances. One performer even stripped down to a skimpy bikini.
This was met with outrage from getai organisers and members of the public.
"Our costumes still have to be somewhat flashy and attractive when we go on stage, but we don't dare to wear such skimpy clothing," said singer Zhu Li Li, 44, who performed on Wednesday night.
"We are trying to be conservative with our costumes, and this year, we are adopting the fashion of the film 881," said the veteran singer, who has been performing at getai since she was four.
This means audiences can expect to see performers clad in puffy skirts, shiny blouses and high leather boots - the attire that Ms Zhu was in - this year.
And these outfits were specially designed by the singers, who then sent their specifications to a tailor in Penang, Malaysia, said Ms Chen.
"But we try not to wear blouses that are too revealing at the chest area, or wear too short skirts. We've been told to keep it clean," said Ms Zhu.
"The main thing anyway is the singing," she said.
Other members of the audience agreed.
One of them, who wanted to be known only as Madam Chen, said getai should focus on the quality of the music.
"Don't use gimmicks like sexy girls to lure people to watch. It'll give them the wrong idea anyway," said the housewife, who is in her 40s.
Another audience member, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tay, said that while the girls get braver with more attractive costumes every year, it's still the music that draws the crowd.
"I've always attended getai because it's a place where I can listen to Hokkien songs and there's an atmosphere," he said in Mandarin.
"But of course, if the girls are pretty and have nice, sexy outfits, why not?"
Get The New Paper for more stories.