Clubs groove to theme nights

DJ Brendon P (left) with fellow resident DJ Shigeki at Club Kyo’s bi-monthly theme night, which is inspired by “the birds and the bees”. -- PHOTO: COLOSSAL PHOTOS
DJ Brendon P (left) with fellow resident DJ Shigeki at Club Kyo’s bi-monthly theme night, which is inspired by “the birds and the bees”. -- PHOTO: COLOSSAL PHOTOS
Gem Bar. -- PHOTO: GEM BAR
Gem Bar. -- PHOTO: GEM BAR
Seasoned local DJ Debbie Chia helms the decks at Bochinche. -- PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Seasoned local DJ Debbie Chia helms the decks at Bochinche. -- PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Clubgoers joining in a high-energy dance anthem as DJs unfurl the Rave Republic flag. -- PHOTO: VINCENT CHAN
Clubgoers joining in a high-energy dance anthem as DJs unfurl the Rave Republic flag. -- PHOTO: VINCENT CHAN
SkyPark restaurant-bar. -- PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
SkyPark restaurant-bar. -- PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

These parties attract clubbers with free entry, drinks, top DJs or a particular genre of music

Back in February, two Singapore-based DJs decided to band together to create a new "clubbing nation" that would "invade" and take over clubs around Asia.

The duo - Swiss Mathias Schell, 23, and Australian Stas Madorski, 27 - launched Rave Republic, a monthly club night aimed at reinventing the clubbing experience.

Lucky clubbers deemed worthy of citizenship will be issued passports. Party promoters go around campaigning for the DJ duo to be voted for president and flying high above the DJ console is a bright red flag with the logo of Rave Republic, as clubgoers groove to their national anthems of banging electronic dance music.

Rave Republic, which has been held at nightclubs Mink at Pan Pacific Singapore, Fenix Room and Dream at Clarke Quay, is just one of the few new themed club nights which have taken off here in the past few months.

Themed nights at bars and clubs here, which offer drink promotions, free entry and DJs spinning niche music, have been crowd-pullers since the 1980s.

These days, club and bar operators are getting more creative with their concepts to cater to more discerning - and fickle - partygoers.

In January, Gem bar in Ann Siang Hill launched Selected, a monthly themed night that showcases top-notch home-grown DJs.

Rooftop bar-restaurant Ku De Ta at Marina Bay Sands rolled out its new ladies' night, Stilettos, in April. The calendar fixture at its SkyBar, an open-air bar, offers lucky female clubbers a chance to win VIP table service and free flow of cocktails if they share a post on the themed night on Ku De Ta's Facebook page.

And last month, basement Club Kyo in Cecil Street started Buzz, a bi-monthly house music event helmed by veteran local DJ Brendon P which is inspired by "the birds and the bees".

Even restaurants are jumping on the themed party bandwagon, with Argentinian restaurant Bochinche at Martin Road launching a laidback night called the Beat Packing District. Held on alternate Wednesdays, it is an event where diners can sip Argentinian wines and enjoy down-tempo house music spun by local DJs.

The backbone for these new themed nights is similar to the traditional concept where clubs or bars will dangle carrots such as free flow of housepours or champagne for a couple of hours and free entry, and also play a specific genre of music.

The difference is in the atmosphere the venues provide. Some, like the Rave Republic, aim to grow a community of EDM (electronic dance music) lovers.

Club operators and promoters tell Life! that themed nights often start off slow and can take up to six months to take off.

For instance, when club Kyo launched a new Thursdays ladies' night last May, it attracted just 80 to 100 patrons. Now, the weekly themed night on Thursday entertains a crowd of 600 to 800 and is considered one of the hottest club nights in town.

Mr Godwin Pereira, 40, one of the co-owners of Club Kyo, says: "It would be great if it takes off from the start, but you generally need about three to six months to see if the product has potential."

Successful theme nights need a unique selling point and consistency, he says, adding: "With social media, sometimes there is no patience for organic growth. More nights are getting killed faster if they do not take off within that expected time."

Word about these themed nights often spreads via social media - through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - and e-mail. Some clubs and bars charge an entry fee, while others waive it. The free-entry club nights bank on bar sales to make money.

Mr Zul Andra, 33, music programmer and marketing representative for Gem Bar, says it is important to know "the musical offerings within the vicinity of your establishment and the scene", to know "what would work musically a few months down the road".

On ensuring longevity, he says: "Once you come up with a concept, you need to keep your eyes and ears open, be patient and fine-tune it."

Rave Republic's brand manager Madorski, 27, says most club theme nights fail due to two main reasons - when clubs purely copy other clubs' theme nights and when the concept is too generic and not novel.

He says of his club night: "We wanted to prove the club hosting it shouldn't matter. It's more about creating a culture held together by people's love for a genre of music. We wanted to provide flexibility in the way we execute it and our props, so we can export the event internationally."

He adds that the concept will not burn out fast by having it on a monthly basis and at different locations, as opposed to a weekly event that would be harder to sustain. Rave Republic has also been held at club Play in Hong Kong.

Mr Ilhammi Tan, 26, who has attended Rave Republic and other themed nights at nightspots here, counts Vice Convent, a theme night held at clubs run by lifestyle management agency Massive Collective, and Rave Republic among his favourite club nights for their consistent DJ standards.

"A lot of DJs are doing theme nights and it's a direction that everyone is exploring," says Mr Tan, who runs his own business consultancy and who clubs nearly every weekend.

"So it comes down to who has the X-factor and who has the whole package."

melk@sph.com.sg


Rave Republic: Vote for DJ president

The concept: A monthly club night led by DJ duo Stas Madorski and Mathias Schell. Each party is held at a different location.

Past venues include the former Mink club at Pan Pacific Singapore, Fenix Room and Dream at Clarke Quay and club Play in Hong Kong. The aim is to build up a close-knit community of rave-heads.

Expect to see a radio-controlled quadcopter hovering above the dance-floor, while flying the red and white flag of Rave Republic or people campaigning for DJs to be voted presidents. The DJs ignite the crowd with high-energy dance anthems, popping bursts of confetti over a sea of clubbers waving neon-lit batons.

A few lucky clubbers will be issued official Rave Republic passports, which will grant them free entry to its future events, including at overseas nightclubs. In a bid to support home-grown talent, Rave Republic's DJ set is always opened or closed by Singaporean DJs. Madorski and Schell are also working on original tracks, remixes and musical mash-ups under the Rave Republic name.

Who should go: Anyone who loves floor-shaking electronica and hugging the dance floor. Standard admission fees apply at the venues they perform at.

The next party: Full details are not out yet, but the Rave Republic is booked to perform at Hong Kong's Play club on June 27, Taipei's Spark nightclub on June 28, and Manila's Hyvve club on July 27.

Info: Go to facebook.com/groups/627908873941104/


Go sky-high with Stilettos

The concept:A new ladies' night launched in April by Ku De Ta. The Marina Bay Sands SkyPark restaurant-bar wants to draw beautiful women with its cocktails and breathtaking views.

The SkyBar venue has a trio of local resident DJs - Joshua P, Deepak and Anand - who spin house, funk, soul and jazz.

Each week, one female patron will win an exclusive VIP table and a magnum bottle of Grey Goose vodka at Stilettos for herself and up to five friends. To enter the draw, they must share a post via Ku De Ta's Facebook page. All women receive a complimentary cocktail.

Who should go: Women with a thing for vodka cocktails, great views and voguish music

The next party: Next Wednesday, from 9.30pm till late

Admission: Free, women get one free cocktail

Info: Ku De Ta SkyBar is at Marina Bay Sands, Tower 3, 1 Bayfront Avenue. Call 6688-7688 or e-mail club-sg@kudeta.com


Beat packing district rules

The concept: A chilled-out night on alternate Wednesdays, at Argentinian restaurant Bochinche. House music rules, rather than tango, as diners sip on Argentinian wines and munch a restaurant favourite - provoleta cheese, a pan of grilled provolone cheese mixed with honey and almonds.

Next to its food, dance is central to the Argentinian way of life, which was the inspiration behind this themed night. The guys behind the restaurant, Spa Esprit Group, keep things fresh with different guest DJs each time.

Launched in February, Beat Packing District has seen seasoned local DJs such as Debbie Chia, Kaye and Brendon P helming the decks.

An added bonus: diners get 20 per cent off the bar menu all night and wines by the bottle from $38.

Who should go: Lovers of sophisticated wine and snacks looking for a change of scene for after-work drinks. Go smart-casual. No cover charge.

The next party: Next Wednesday, from 7 to 11pm.

Info: Bochinche is at 22 Martin Road, 02-01. Go to facebook.com/bochinchesg or call 6235-4990


Selected for the best

The concept: A monthly themed night at Gem Bar showcasing the best DJs in Singapore. The DJs, seasoned professionals known for their taste in non-commercial dance music, are given free rein to decide the music for the night.

Occasionally, Gem brings in DJs from other local music collectives such as Attagirl!, Datdatdat and Darker Than Wax to do guest DJ shifts at the bar.

Started in January this year, Selected has seen DJs such as Maurice Simon, Daryl Chan and Gonzo helm the decks. This month, local drum and bass DJ Zul Othman will perform at Selected.

Since the closure of Home Club at the Riverwalk, Gem has stepped in to fill the gap as alternative music fans' go-to.

Who should go:Techno, drum and bass and experimental hip-hop aficionados. Or you may just want to check in to discover home-grown music talent. No cover charge.

The next party: DJ Zul Othman helms the decks on June 20 from 10pm. Admission is free.

Info: Gem Bar is at 8-10, Ann Siang Hill. Go to facebook.com/gemsingapore or call 9646-6160


Keep Buzzing

The concept: A bi-monthly house music event launched by basement Club Kyo that is inspired by the birds and the bees.

Co-owner Godwin Pereira, 40, says the night "married the fact that good music and good alcohol go together, where guys and girls can come and get buzzed together".

Clubgoers dance under a "sky" of floating inflatable bees and paper flowers. DJ Brendon P takes charge of the main DJ set for the night.

To start you buzzing, you get a complimentary glass of champagne on entry.

Who should go: Worker drones in the Central Business District and those who like flitting from club to club. Dress smart-casual or wing it.

The next party:Buzz is taking a hiatus in July and will return in August. Go to Kyo's Facebook page (facebook.com/clubkyo) for updates.

Admission: $20 for women & $25 for men (includes complimentary drink)

Info: Club Kyo is at 133 Cecil Street, Keck Seng Tower, B1-02. Call 8299-8735 between Tuesday and Saturday from 2pm for table reservations or e-mail info@clubkyo.com

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