For the first time, a nightspot here is imposing a no-tattoo rule.
Dance club Genesis wants party-goers with any conspicuous tattoos to cover up if they want to be let in. And if they flash their body art while inside the Marina Bay Sands nightspot, they risk being banned.
No other clubs here have a formal rule against tattoos, though some do turn away customers with large, offensive-looking body art at their discretion.
Genesis' ban has been in place since it opened on Dec 24 at the Marina Bay Sands Crystal Pavilion, which once housed nightspot Avalon. Known for its pop-up parties, the club attracts a crowd of clubbers from the late teens to early 30s.
Efocus Entertainment, which manages the Genesis club nights, said the ban is to create a "friendly, comfortable environment".
"We filter the crowd to lower the risks of fights or unrest because those with tattoos tend to attract a lot of unwanted attention," said a spokesman.
Since the inaugural Genesis event on Christmas Eve last year, the club has held more than 10 events on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The spokesman said bouncers had to turn away on average two people every party night.
To spot anyone exposing body ink while in the club, Genesis raised the number of bouncers from 10 to 15.
The club, however, does make exceptions for small tattoos in inconspicuous areas such as the back of the wrist.
"From our experience, patrons discriminate and are relatively intimidated by individuals with tattoos," said Mr Adonis Cordelius, the resident DJ at Genesis and the man behind the idea.
The 27-year-old, who has spun in other nightspots such as China One and Supperclub, has tattoos spanning both his arms and recalls being denied entry into other clubs here.
Since the rule also applies to staff, he covers up too. "It is better if people suit or dress up to look sharp and still have fun and party with class," he said.
There are similar bans on visible tattoos in several watering holes in Australia and Britain, although they have drawn the ire of many, who see the restrictions as discriminatory.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in Australia said refusing entry to people with exposed tattoos may breach equality laws.
But entertainment lawyer Samuel Seow said the tattoo restriction is lawful here.
"This is akin to a country club or restaurant requiring that persons conform to a particular dress code so that a general ambience 'befitting' the location is maintained," he said.
Popular nightspots here such as Zouk and The Butter Factory said they do not have a policy against tattoos.
"I don't remember a rule like that, that has been imposed before. The operator must have a reason to do so," said nightlife veteran Dennis Foo, who is also president of the Singapore Nightlife Business Association.
Public relations practitioner Angela Lau, who sports four tattoos on both her arms, including one featuring a Latin verse, said she will not be patronising any club which asks her to cover them up.
The 30-year-old said: "It is as if I did something wrong. Tattoos are now very common and an art that we should not be ashamed of.
"I don't see how covering up tattoos will be effective in deterring people from making trouble if they wanted to."
Tattoos okay in most nightspots
MOST clubs The Straits Times spoke to say they allow in customers with visible tattoos, although they still have the discretion to refuse entry to maintain a certain ambience and comfort level for customers.
Mr Timothy Chia, Zouk's head of marketing and events, said the 23-year-old nightspot has not asked any of its patrons to cover up their tattoos. "Having tattoos is just one of the many creative ways in which people express themselves."
He added that the club only turns away people who are "heavily intoxicated and aren't in a fit state to enter the club, or those who might be under age".
Butter Factory's spokesman Wu Zong Quan said the club only enforces a dress code. "So long as the door manager thinks you are dressed tastefully and fashionably, we let you in."