Two clubs open in Orchard

Nova, an electronic dance music club, is in Orchard Hotel while Cherry, a hip-hop club, is in York Hotel

Mr Hasnor Sidik is one of the co-founders of Cherry, a new hip-hop club in York Hotel.
Mr Hasnor Sidik is one of the co-founders of Cherry, a new hip-hop club in York Hotel.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Two clubs are opening in the Orchard Road area with the intention of revitalising the area.

Nova, an electronic dance music (EDM) club, is located in Orchard Hotel, in the heart of Orchard Road. Cherry, an underground hip-hop club, went for a more unexpected location, in York Hotel, just off Orchard Road.

Both clubs are set to officially open in the first week of next month.

One of Cherry's founders, Mr Hasnor Sidik, 36, says the scene has been lacking a cool hip-hop club for a while now and he hopes to go "back to basics" with Cherry.

Hence its roster will feature turntablists such as DJ Rattle and even hip-hop veterans such as DJ Andrew Chow.

"So many clubs are opening up now, but I think everyone is doing it wrong. There's not enough taste and flavour, passion and soul," says Mr Hasnor, who is also the Asia Pacific music director at W Hotels Worldwide.

"We want to give the EDM clubs a run for their money."

The other founder of Cherry is restaurant-bar Potato Head Folk's creative director Earn Chen, 44. The club also has three silent investors.

Renovated in two months at a cost of $200,000, Cherry is an industrial chic space with bare walls for wall-to-wall visual projections, a black-and-white checkerboard dancefloor and neon light signs.

Unlike other clubs with giant LED screens and lasers, the only slick touches are a new lighting and sound rig.

Old-school arcade game consoles featuring Pacman and Street Fighter greet partygoers at the entrance of the club that can hold 260 people, while dark pink plush velvet sofas line the circumference of the high-ceilinged room.

Another old-school touch is found in a washroom modelled after a secondary school toilet.

"We like that it's a little tacky in a way - cheesy is fun now. It's time to bring it all back," says Mr Hasnor.

The founders chose York Hotel because they liked the off-the- beaten-track location. Of the space's pink and green colour palette, he says they wanted the club to be girly.

"We picked a girly name and girly colours because we want the girls to come," he quips.

While he recalls having grown up visiting the clubs along Orchard Road, he hopes this first big business venture of his will be a shot in the arm for the area.

Orchard Road used to be home to high-profile nightlife establishments such as China Black at Pacific Plaza and Bar None at Marriott Hotel, in the 1980s and 1990s.

"Who knows, maybe we'll make it cool again," Mr Hasnor says.

The people behind Nova feel the same way, though their club is going for a completely different vibe from Cherry.

The Neverland Group's Mr Wyman Lee, who is one of the co-founders of Nova, says: "When I was growing up, Orchard Road was the place to go - all the clubs used to be here."

Citing Orchard as the "epicentre of entertainment in Singapore", he notes that "it's been a while since Orchard Road has had a new club that caters to the masses".

Nova was put together by lifestyle management agency Massive Collective - who is behind clubs such as Bang Bang, Vanity and Suite 26 - as well as The Neverland Group, who is better known for its live entertainment venues and Thai discos.

The 12,000 sq ft space used to house Sonar, also by Neverland. When the time came for its lease to be renewed, Mr Lee, 36, "thought it needed a revamp".

Massive Collective was then invited on board and the space was revamped over six months at a cost of less than $2 million.

The 600-capacity club boasts all the trimmings, including 10,000 LED lights, screens, lasers and cannons that blast smoke.

Massive Collective director Phillip Poon, 39, says they plan to stick to the same things that made their stable of exclusive clubs a hit, such as bottle service and the VIP experience.

There will also be roving entertainment and dancers, such as Diana, a Korean all-female dance troupe, alongside the roster of EDM DJs. The club also plans to take advantage of its high ceiling with aerial acts.

"We'll have a lot of theme nights that encourage that live element and the use of a high ceiling because you don't get that a lot in the other clubs at the moment," Mr Poon adds.

Despite Nova's prime location in the Orchard Road belt, its founders are aware that it will be much harder to get the crowd in to Orchard Hotel on weekdays. Hence the club will be open only on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with a cover charge of $33 for men and $28 for women on weekends, and $28 for men and free entry for women on Wednesday.

The club will officially open in the first week of next month, but it has already opened for operations.

Mr Lee says: "During the next few weeks, we will try to iron out any kinks and figure out the best music direction. Then in September we will go full bang in time for F1."

Correction note: This story has been updated for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2016, with the headline 'Two clubs open in Orchard'. Print Edition | Subscribe