If there is one person who has probably seen it all at iconic nightclub Zouk, it is DJ and turntablist Andrew Chow, who has been a resident DJ at the club from 1995 to 2011. The three-time DMC Singapore DJ competition champion has seen the various permutations of Zouk, from the time it launched the big-beat heavy space Phuture in 1997, to when it carved up the Velvet Underground room into a private lounge and dance floor in 2011. Chow, a hip-hop veteran, has also been lucky enough to play alongside famed international dance acts including the Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, Fat Boy Slim and DJ Shadow during his 15-year stint at the club. Chow left Zouk to pursue a career in Bangkok but returned to Singapore about a year ago. He now plays at Zouk once every month.
Chow shares with Life! some of his best memories at the club, and tells us why "Zouk will never shut down".
1. What do you think about the news of Zouk's possible closure?
I am sure they will never close. Maybe they will close for just a while, but they will be back and reopen for business. The club shutting down will be a very sad thing for Singaporeans. I am sure every 18-year-old who wants to club has been to Zouk, gone for Mambo Night. As they get older, they will go to Phuture, go back to Zouk for some house music, then go to Velvet. Then they get married and have kids and hang out at the Wine Bar. This is the life of a real Zouk-er and there's thousands of them.
2. What do you remember best about your time at Zouk?
It is one of the best places to play in earth, even when I was playing there every week. I released three CDs with Zouk over the years, and worked all the demanding nights. I even DJ-ed for McDonald's under-aged parties at the club. It was fun stuff. I remember I did the warm-up set for British DJ Fat Boy Slim and he took my hand and held it up at the DJ console, that was a great moment. Too bad there was no Facebook back then! There was another time too, when DJ Shadow's manager came up to me and told me I played a good warm-up set for DJ Shadow. That was memorable. I got to be more than a DJ there, and learnt a lot from owner Lincoln Cheng.
3. What did you learn from Lincoln Cheng?
If you want to be a club-owner, it's not about making money, and Lincoln is not a guy out for money. It's the culture he built. Take for instance, ZoukOut. It attracts about 30,000 to 40,000 people every year. This is what I mean by a culture. Zouk cannot be shut down. I played in clubs around the region a lot and nothing comes close.
4. Why do you think Zouk has survived for so long?
Zouk's still kicking. Lincoln started it and still leads it. I get a lot of feedback about Zouk now seeing a lot of "ah bengs" clubbing there. But the original vibe is still there. Everybody can go to Zouk, it doesn't select who goes there to club. But Lincoln is a trendsetter. You always get the big acts, like Hardwell, Nicky Romero. EDM is huge now and Zouk too changed with the times. It's also a world-class club with a good soundsystem. No other club here will be willing to spend $3 million on a club's soundsystem. But that goes to show that Lincoln is really about the music and building a culture.
5. Do you think the club will change if it moves to a different location?
I think it will still be the same. We just want them to continue, even if it is in Tuas or whatever. People will still go. Lincoln created this thing, that even if you moved Zouk to Sentosa (for ZoukOut), it can still be a sell-out event.
An earlier version of this story described Fat Boy Slim as American. He is British. We are sorry for the error.