Shoot, it's a big reunion

More than 4,000 revellers turned up for the Mambo Jambo reunion at Zouk, which was filmed for a documentary

The massive Mambo Jambo reunion at Zouk was held as part of the club's SG50 celebrations.
The massive Mambo Jambo reunion at Zouk was held as part of the club's SG50 celebrations.PHOTO: ZOUK SINGAPORE

If you attended last Saturday night's massive Mambo Jambo reunion at Zouk, be prepared - you may have been caught on camera acting out the lyrics to Bananarama's I Heard A Rumour.

Dave Tan, singer and frontman of home-grown rock trio Electrico, was there to film the closing scene of his independent documentary Blame It On The Boogie, about the legendary club night.

Tan, 39, says his decision to choose Mambo Jambo as the subject for his maiden documentary show was a no-brainer.

"Mambo Jambo was an institution that resonated with so many people but was never really celebrated beyond Zouk's walls," says the film-maker, who left his position at MTV Networks earlier this year to focus on the project full-time.

"It is a completely local product that should be immortalised. There isn't anything like this anywhere in the world and the story behind it and its intricacies have to be celebrated."

Tan, who aims to complete the film in time for next year's Singapore International Film Festival, could not have chosen a better night to shoot.

More than 4,000 revellers turned up for the party that was held as part of the club's SG50 celebrations. Called The Ultimate Mambo Jambo: Blame It On The Boogie, it was touted as the biggest reunion since the weekly club night came to an end at Zouk in 2012.

The club has held ad-hoc Mambo Jambo parties since, usually on the eve of public holidays, but the crowd usually maxes out at just over 3,000.

Saturday night's bash saw clubbers in their 20s to 50s filling the entire club, bopping to classics such as Belinda Carlisle's Summer Rain and Village People's YMCA, complete with the coordinated mass dance moves that Mambo Jambo has become so well known for. Celebrities such as actresses Ann Kok and Jade Seah were spotted among the crowd.

Occupying the deejay console was former Zouk DJ Aldrin as well as resident Zouk deejay DjB.

Mambo Jambo was the longest- running club night in Singapore, happening every Wednesday night at Zouk for 21 years. It was considered an essential initiation into the local clubbing scene for virgin partygoers who had just turned 18.

Last Saturday, queues started to form outside the club at around 9pm, an hour before doors opened. By 11.30 pm, it got so packed that a full house sign had to be put up.

The crowd started to thin out only at 4am after the final song, Home by Kit Chan, was played. But the music continued for another hour.

Studentcare teacher Annabelle Chua, 26, and more than 10 Mambo Jambo regulars turned up in black T-shirts emblazoned with the words Blame It On The Boogie. They had the shirts specially printed for the occasion.

Ms Chua, who has been attending Mambo Jambo nights since she was 18, says: "It could be the final Mambo Jambo at this location, so we wanted to have a keepsake."

The club will be vacating its space in Jiak Kim Street next year and moving to Clarke Quay.

A Zouk spokesman, however, confirms that a last Mambo Jambo night will be held before the move.

She says: "Mambo is something that still appeals to a certain segment, although smaller today. It's still very much part of Zouk's programming and we are likely to continue with the Mambo edition at the new premises."

Which is good news for fans such as Mr Benedict Gerald Wee, 41, a stay-home father of two, who has been a regular for the last 15 years.

"I really enjoy dancing Mambo with the other regulars and we have become good friends over the years."

One of them, Mr Claudio Chock, 27, a communications executive, says: "You don't get to see in a club anywhere else where different generations of Singaporeans are dancing together in unison to the same type of music. It's something that is beautiful to see. "

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2015, with the headline 'Shoot, it's a big reunion'. Print Edition | Subscribe