Bankers top up the pot with karaoke night

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 December, 2006, 12:00am

Credit Suisse First Boston staff let their hair down with a song in their heart

It was mayhem in the Armani Bar women's toilets.

Diana Ross and two of her Supremes, plus the female contingent of ABBA battled for the mirrors amid sequined tops, spandex trousers and wigs from the lanes of Central.

Moments later, with purple glitter and eyelashes affixed, Diana and her cohorts - otherwise known as Patricia Sindel, Nell Cady-Kruse and Wong Chien-chien, of Credit Suisse First Boston - were poised, elegant and ready to give it their all as they trotted on stage for a karaoke rendition of Where Did Our Love Go?

Armani is usually associated with understated elegance and sophistication - not karaoke.

In fact, the bar's resident DJ said in hushed and culturally shell-shocked tones that it was the first night of karaoke Armani Bar had organised since opening in April.

Well, eat your heart out Georgio, because this was Credit Suisse First Boston's gut-busting, lip-synching, downright amusing fund-raising night for Operation Santa Claus.

And it raised well over HK$1 million.

Paul Calello, the bank's Asia-Pacific chairman and chief executive officer, said: 'I think we were already over HK$1 million going into this evening.

'We've been doing [fund-raising] parties for a number of years now, and a whole lot of people are getting involved. It's about giving back to the community. Operation Santa Claus is just one of the many efforts throughout the year.

'The fact that Hong Kong has had a good business year certainly can't hurt. There's been good business and people are feeling good. But I think it's more than that. Many of our employees are volunteers in charitable causes throughout the year.'

Under the bank's particular fund-raising system, staff bid for senior managers to perform on stage, using an auction programme set up on the company's computer system. Once all the bids are in, the top managers have to sing.

Most do it willingly - and if they decide they don't want to, they have to buy themselves out at double the highest bid.

Among the Armani Bar singers were a one-man ZZ Top, Village People, Celine Dion, NZ Haka and the New Elvis Group - with no less than six incarnations of the King of Rock'n'Roll.

NZ Haka were less karaoke and more performance art as the four rugby players whipped off their T-shirts to reveal detailed body painting to go with the artwork on their faces, which a make-up artist had completed that afternoon.

With tongues waggling, Leith Cooper, Ben Falloon, Brandon Edwards and Nick Hawkins from the bank's fixed-income division performed the haka from the Land of the Long White Cloud. 'We didn't have to practise this as we grew up on it,' Mr Cooper said.

The Elvis collective did a medley of numbers including Suspicious Minds and Hound Dog.

'Oh my god, that was alarmingly good,' said the overawed master of ceremonies.

And then to top off the talent contest came Mr Calello and his backing singers with the Blackeyed Peas' version of Where is the Love? The rap flowed, as did the hand movements, as Mr Calello, dressed in his son's football shirt with accompanying medallions, rounded off a night of fund-raising fun.