SINGAPORE - Zouk's 10-day temporary closure did not put a dent in the nightclub's resumption of operations on Wednesday night (May 11), with all 500 available tickets sold out even before it reopened its doors at 10pm.
Clubbers started trickling in from around 10.30pm, with the pace picking up after 11.30pm, for its usual midweek party night called TGIW.
Full-time national serviceman Skye Liaw, 20, who was with a group of nine friends, including his army buddies, said it was his first time at Zouk.
"I've wanted to go for the longest time because it's one of the biggest clubs in Singapore, but I always found it expensive. That said, beggars can't be choosers," he said, referring to the lack of choice as only a handful of clubs have reopened their dance floors.
On having to wear a mask on the dance floor, Mr Liaw said: "It's kind of ridiculous. They've already lifted the limits on the number of people in a group… Also, dancing is a form of exercise."
Pricing was also an issue for some like Canadian tourist Michael S, 28, a software engineer, and his two friends who were checking with Zouk staff on ticket prices.
"Usually when you go to a club on ladies night, it's free entry for women, so we were surprised to hear that it's pretty pricey at $35 for women and up to $50 for men on the weekend," he said.
"It definitely wasn't so expensive the last time I was here seven years ago, (so) we might reconsider coming here (this weekend)."
Zouk's closure occurred less than two weeks after all nightlife establishments - such as karaoke establishments, pubs and nightclubs - were allowed to resume operations from April 19.
The club was fined $1,000 and ordered to close temporarily by the Urban Redevelopment Authority after its guests flouted the prevailing rules on group sizes at the time. A group was found to be larger than the maximum allowed of 10 per table during the incident on April 23.
After the closure, Zouk said it would double its security headcount to ensure safe management measures still relevant to nightclubs are adhered to.
There was a significant security presence both outside and inside the club when The Straits Times visited Zouk on Wednesday night.
Limits on group sizes and safe distancing measures were lifted on April 26, in what was a major easing of Covid-19 rules.
However, at all venues with dance floors, patrons still have to produce a negative antigen rapid test supervised by a Ministry of Health-approved test provider, which is done either in person or remotely.
Additionally, patrons are required to wear masks on the dance floor. They may remove them when eating or drinking but should put them back on immediately afterwards.
Still, after a two-year moratorium on nightlife, the pent-up demand is apparent.
Zouk's unexpected pause in business has had the opposite effect of renewed interest in the club, noted Mr Collin Keegan, 30, general manager of Zouk's nightclub in Resorts World Las Vegas.
The club, which is capping its nightly crowd size at 500 for now- a quarter of the 2,000 it can hold at full capacity - has seen brisk business, with its tickets and table reservations fully booked for this weekend and selling fast for coming weekends.
Mr Keegan, who is here to oversee the resumption of Zouk's operations, said: "One of the great things about Zouk is we can adapt - we were able to give a lot of exposure to our other venues Phuture and Capital… (The downtime) also allowed us to hone in on service and really spend time focusing on operations."
Capital Kitchen is the club complex's lounge and restaurant, while Phuture is a smaller-capacity club focusing on hip hop and R&B music.
Said Mr Keegan: "From the feedback and from what I've seen, guests are really supportive. I think they understand that it's really going to help launch the rest of nightlife throughout Singapore, which I think we're all really excited about."