'Save Zouk' appeal goes online

Fans in and outside Singapore have been speaking in support of the club after a Straits Times report on Wednesday said Zouk may have to close if it does not get a three-year extension on its lease.
Fans in and outside Singapore have been speaking in support of the club after a Straits Times report on Wednesday said Zouk may have to close if it does not get a three-year extension on its lease.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Fans in and outside S'pore also start social media drive to keep nightspot

POPULAR nightspot Zouk has launched an online appeal for an extension on its lease in Jiak Kim Street, which ends by year end.

The www.save-zouk.com website went live today, as fans in and outside Singapore spoke in support of the club after The Straits Times reported on Wednesday that it may have to close if it does not get a three-year extension on its lease.

For instance, an influential British music magazine, DJ Mag, has appealed to music fans globally to "save Zouk" on its website.

It urged people to "help us to protect this incredible institution" by tweeting #savezouk and sharing the news on Facebook.

Two different Facebook pages - Zouk Stays, and Save Zouk Singapore - have also been set up.

When asked to comment, a Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) spokesman reiterated that Zouk has to find a new venue. Its lease expired in June 2012 but it was extended thrice, she added.

"The Robertson Quay area has shaped up very rapidly as a residential district, and Zouk's operation is not compatible with the area," she said. She also noted complaints about litter and noise.

But Zouk founder Lincoln Cheng, 67, said earlier that he had started to look for a new site three years ago but still cannot find "an ideal venue". He said "a longer lease and new premises would enable us to secure the future of our staff as well". The club employs about 200 workers, and nearly 40 per cent have worked there for 15 to 20 years.

Mr Cheng invested $10 million in 1991 to turn a conserved warehouse into a renowned nightspot that draws more than 10,000 revellers a week. Last year, Zouk was valued at $40 million by financial audit firm Ernst & Young.

Nightlife group St James Holdings chief executive Dennis Foo, 61, said "everyone wants Zouk to remain open".

But it sits on "a very valuable piece of real estate", he said yesterday. "In fact, many iconic landmarks had to make way for progress and redevelopment in the past and Zouk should not be an exception."

Photographer Afiq Omar, 26, who set up "Save Zouk Singapore", said Zouk was "an institution" where artists and musicians practise and get exposure to global acts brought in by the club.

Talent agency Fly Entertainment founder Irene Ang said: "Whenever I have overseas visitors, like Korean boy bands, Hong Kong stars, friends and delegates, they ask me to take them to Zouk. They never ask me to take them to see the Merlion."

joycel@sph.com.sg