Zouk Off

The most positive emotion I can usually summon up for Zouk is extreme indifference, but that changed on Friday night, which was one of the worst clubbing experiences of my life. (Not the worst. I reserve that rare honour for the Limelight on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. If you’ve been there, you’ll understand, if you haven’t, don’t.)

I have never seen a gig get as technically fucked up as the Chicks On Speed gig did. The moment they started it was obvious there was something wrong with the sound. Their vocals were getting drowned by their music even though they were virtually shouting. Throughout the gig, they kept begging the sound people to turn up the vocals, to no avail.

The gig was interrupted numerous times by assorted technical failures. Each time this happened, the club’s DJ would start playing music while the problems were being resolved. Fair enough, but the group shouldn’t have had to scream repeatedly to him (on their too-soft mikes, now getting drowned out by the DJ’s music) to stop every time they were ready to resume.

After the show had drawn to a screeching halt for the second time, the audience had halved. This was unsurprising. Even the way they usually sound on record, Chicks On Speed are possibly too much for anyone with limited musical horizons to stomach. On a sound system that wasn’t able to handle them (unlike the Esplanade’s, where even Tortoise’s loudest, most discordant moments were completely bearable), they could only have sounded pleasant to people who regularly take pleasure in abrasive noise. Thankfully, a fair number of us were in attendance. We stayed and cheered them on, and they made the best they could out of a bad situation.

We headed to Phuture after this, and were joined by two friends of mine who had come along just to wish me a happy birthday. We started dancing, but rapidly became bored with the bland, unimaginative hip-hop that was being played. Phuture was less crowded than I ever remember it being on a Friday night. Perhaps people who know better have finally deserted it, now that places like Cocco Latte are going from strength to strength.

Bored, Alec and my two friends went to get drinks. At a bar that wasn’t in the least bit crowded, Alec was still waiting for his drink fifteen minutes later. My two friends weren’t doing well either. After inquiring about their drink orders, they were told that they hadn’t made any. Given that they had used up their drink coupons on these mythical orders, this was rather dismaying. While discussing this at length with the bar staff, my friends were assertive but never in the least bit disorderly or physically aggressive. Nevertheless, on his way to escort them out of the club, one of the security personnel shouldered me aside and trod heavily on my foot.

To cut a long tedious story short, it took them nearly an hour of wrangling with the management to get their drinks, after which time no one was in the mood to actually drink them, or stay in the club. Since the music in Phuture had continued to be achingly dull, leaving was no hardship.

It was almost amusing. Benny and Alec (on their first visit to Zouk) already knew my views on Zouk before we went there, but once we were in I didn’t actually have to say anything to try and convince them further. The experience spoke for itself.


  1. Even me the Zoukette thought that was probably the worst night I’ve ever had at Zouk. I just didn’t get Chicks on Speed. I thought they were horrible. I wondered if it was just my limited music taste speaking, or if they really were crap.

    Since I hardly ever buy drinks at clubs, I can’t tell you much about their bar management. But I mostly, as you know, have a great time at Zouk (I hardly go to Phuture…it’s ridiculously packed; and Velvet’s the same, just with more twats) and I love the staff (probably just cos I know them and tis always nice to be greeted with a smile and hi than the sulkiness from other clubs’ bouncers. But I can’t speak for anyone else unfamiliar with Zouk staff). I have yet to see another club that makes me as happy. Other than Mox, but that’s more like a bar. Maybe it’s Singapore’s lack of just good solid clubs.

  2. well at least there no one has every got shot in zouk as far as i can remember, apart from the occasional few busted heads. it could have been worse, just head down to the dodgier clubs in perth.

    oh yes, happy birthday to you!


  3. Kelly: It’s understandable if Zouk treats its regulars a bit better than people it doesn’t know, but at the end of the day it should treat all customers as customers.

    A customer who is not disorderly or aggressive, but who is obviously aggrieved about the level of service they are getting, should be given the benefit of the doubt. Even if my friends had made a mistake about their drink coupons (though they’re adamant they didn’t), the financial future of Zouk hardly hangs on 2 drinks. They shouldn’t have had to argue for an hour to get them.

    As Alec observed, in any bar or club in Ireland, long before things escalated to being escorted out by security and having to argue everything all over again to the management, the bar manager would just have said, “You know what, have the drinks. Sorry if we made a mistake.” There was clearly a lot of unwillingness to acknowledge that my friends may have had a legitimate complaint, and weren’t just out to scam the club for free drinks. I don’t think that’s the way service industry professionals should treat customers.

  4. It’s Singapore! They’d rather die than give something away for free.

    Anyway, Limelight isn’t *that* bad! As long as you don’t mind getting your T&A groped, being forced to watch drunk AU boys jerk off on stairwells, and getting caught in the middle of drunken brawls. :D

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