Like it or not, Singapore’s longest-running club Zouk has finally left its home of 25 years in Jiak Kim Street. After being bought over by conglomerate Genting Hong Kong in 2015, the legendary nightclub has relocated to Clarke Quay.
Now, clubs close, reopen and move all the time, but none have created the same furore that Zouk has, and that’s because it is so much more than just loud music and flashing lights. It’s best known for its line-up of international DJs and artistes, and its retro-fuelled Wednesday staple Mambo Jambo night. The latter was “a rite of passage for many young Singaporeans; it was a phenomenon that grew organically”, says managing director Benny Heng.
The club consistently ranks in the top 10 of DJ Mag’s Top 100 Clubs poll – placing 6th last year. Considered the industry standard, the poll puts Singapore on the global party map. Zouk has also extended the brand by taking its renowned beach mega dance party Zoukout to Tokyo, where it co-hosted Summer Sonic 2016 last August. Zoukout parties were also held in Boracay last April and in Hong Kong last October.
In its new location, Heng is confident that Zouk will continue to draw the party crowd – particularly the millennials, a generation that grew up with the inclination to enjoy life, rather than simply survive it. To that end, the new Red Tail restaurant and bar space that focuses on craft cocktails have been added, as well as a Thursday night series known as “Sessions” that will focus on nurturing new DJ talent.
“Millennials travel often to expose themselves to new cultures and experiences, and they’re willing to spend on that,” he says. “As first impressions count, we kept things fresh by opening up the wall between Zouk and Phuture (which plays hip hop and R&B) for the first time to become a superclub-like space on opening night.”
But all Zouk really needs to do is maintain its uniquely Singaporean experience.
“Mambo Jambo night and our signature sour plum shots are already steeped in the Zouk experience, and, by extension, Singapore party culture. Just like how the Zouk sound team recalibrates the custom-design sound system by the late, great audio engineer Gary Stewart every year, so will we tirelessly check out Coachella, Miami Winter Fest, Summer Sonic and other upcoming party hotspots to spot new talent and scout possible collaborations.”
No matter that Zouk may look different; its heart is still in the same place.
PHOTOGRAPHY Vee Chin ART DIRECTION Denise Rei Low