This article was first published in The Straits Times on Oct 20, 2005
ZOUK, the famous 14-year-old club in Jiak Kim Street, will flaunt its $7 million facelift with a party tomorrow, billed as Zouk Revamped!.
The last time Zouk had an overhaul was in 2000, when the club was sound-proofed. It cost $4 million. None of the works included design changes then.
Though Zouk's main layout and architecture cannot change - a clause specified in its lease with the Singapore Land Authority, the club has left almost no stone unturned.
Among other things, it has been kitted out with a $1 million custom-made sound system, artwork from such artists as Japan's Takashi Murakami and new bar tops.
The tunnel to Zouk's main room has been redecorated with handcrafted resin and then covered with a plastic coating which changes colours. The members' area has been expanded to double its former size.
The popular Friday hangout spot Winebar has new curved benches outside, giving it a park-like look.
Phuture, the hip-hop night spot within its compound, has had its DJ booth moved and a new bar added to the VIP area at the back. Zouk's marketing manager Tracy Phillips, 28, says the theme was "sharpened organic".
"The old Zouk was very angular," she says. "The new decor and layout make it a lot more free-flowing."
Indeed, when Life! walked through the club, which was still undergoing last minute touch-ups yesterday, there was a definite feel of space.
Ms Phillips says the club went over its original $6 million budget by $1 million to accommodate the changes. The renovation costs match the sum it took to build the club's Kuala Lumpur branch. Zouk's outlet there cost $7.2 million.
"We used a lot of experimental materials such as a specially treated resin for the bar tops," she says. "There are a lot of details which some people may not notice. But all of them add up to give the club a different look and feel."
She is quick to add that the projected December opening of British club Ministry Of Sound (MOS) in Clarke Quay, potentially Zouk's biggest competitor here, was not a factor in the renovation plans, which have been two years in the works.
"We knew about MOS in June," she says. "A project of this scale can't be planned in that short a time."
Zouk's month-long closure has apparently benefited other clubs such as The Liquid Room, which finds itself more packed. Lines are longer, stretching to the taxi stand of The Gallery Hotel where it is located.
"We saw a 25 per cent increase in attendance at the club," says Ms Hannah Teo, business development manager of the club. She notes that while there was a marginal difference on Saturdays, the club saw "many new faces" particularly on Wednesdays, when Zouk runs its popular Mambo nights, and on Fridays.
Over at neighbouring club Cocco Latte, owner Vincent Chai says he sees a 10 per cent increase in attendance.
"It is only a slight increase for us, and we're a small club that's usually crowded anyway on weekends, so Zouk's re-opening won't make too much of a difference," he says.
Zouk's next big party will be Zoukout on Sentosa's Siloso beach.
To be held on Dec 10 this year, its line-up of nine DJs will include American hip-hop turntablist Cash Money, British techo DJ Nick Warren and American house legend Lil' Louie Vega.
A stage hosting local live music with bands from Concave Scream, Ronin and Electrico will also be added this year.
Zouk Revamped! is on tomorrow at 9pm. Admission is $20 for women, $25 for men (includes two drinks). Tickets for Zoukout, on sale from tomorrow, are $28 (limited to 2,000 tickets), $38 until Dec 9 and $48 at the door. Available from Zouk.