Clubs groove to theme nights

Clubs groove to theme nights
SkyPark restaurant-bar.

Back in February, two Singapore-based DJs decided to band together to create a new "clubbing nation" that would "invade" and take over clubs around Asia.

The duo - Swiss Mathias Schell, 23, and Australian Stas Madorski, 27 - launched Rave Republic, a monthly club night aimed at reinventing the clubbing experience.

Lucky clubbers deemed worthy of citizenship will be issued passports. Party promoters go around campaigning for the DJ duo to be voted for president and flying high above the DJ console is a bright red flag with the logo of Rave Republic, as clubgoers groove to their national anthems of banging electronic dance music.

Rave Republic, which has been held at nightclubs Mink at Pan Pacific Singapore, Fenix Room and Dream at Clarke Quay, is just one of the few new themed club nights which have taken off here in the past few months.

Themed nights at bars and clubs here, which offer drink promotions, free entry and DJs spinning niche music, have been crowd-pullers since the 1980s.

These days, club and bar operators are getting more creative with their concepts to cater to more discerning - and fickle - partygoers.

In January, Gem bar in Ann Siang Hill launched Selected, a monthly themed night that showcases top-notch home-grown DJs.

Rooftop bar-restaurant Ku De Ta at Marina Bay Sands rolled out its new ladies' night, Stilettos, in April. The calendar fixture at its SkyBar, an open-air bar, offers lucky female clubbers a chance to win VIP table service and free flow of cocktails if they share a post on the themed night on Ku De Ta's Facebook page.

And last month, basement Club Kyo in Cecil Street started Buzz, a bi-monthly house music event helmed by veteran local DJ Brendon P which is inspired by "the birds and the bees".

Even restaurants are jumping on the themed party bandwagon, with Argentinian restaurant Bochinche at Martin Road launching a laidback night called the Beat Packing District. Held on alternate Wednesdays, it is an event where diners can sip Argentinian wines and enjoy down-tempo house music spun by local DJs.

The backbone for these new themed nights is similar to the traditional concept where clubs or bars will dangle carrots such as free flow of housepours or champagne for a couple of hours and free entry, and also play a specific genre of music.

The difference is in the atmosphere the venues provide. Some, like the Rave Republic, aim to grow a community of EDM (electronic dance music) lovers.

Club operators and promoters tell Life! that themed nights often start off slow and can take up to six months to take off.

For instance, when club Kyo launched a new Thursdays ladies' night last May, it attracted just 80 to 100 patrons. Now, the weekly themed night on Thursday entertains a crowd of 600 to 800 and is considered one of the hottest club nights in town.

Mr Godwin Pereira, 40, one of the co-owners of Club Kyo, says: "It would be great if it takes off from the start, but you generally need about three to six months to see if the product has potential."

Successful theme nights need a unique selling point and consistency, he says, adding: "With social media, sometimes there is no patience for organic growth. More nights are getting killed faster if they do not take off within that expected time."

Word about these themed nights often spreads via social media - through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - and e-mail. Some clubs and bars charge an entry fee, while others waive it. The free-entry club nights bank on bar sales to make money.

Mr Zul Andra, 33, music programmer and marketing representative for Gem Bar, says it is important to know "the musical offerings within the vicinity of your establishment and the scene", to know "what would work musically a few months down the road".

On ensuring longevity, he says: "Once you come up with a concept, you need to keep your eyes and ears open, be patient and fine-tune it."

Rave Republic's brand manager Madorski, 27, says most club theme nights fail due to two main reasons - when clubs purely copy other clubs' theme nights and when the concept is too generic and not novel.

He says of his club night: "We wanted to prove the club hosting it shouldn't matter. It's more about creating a culture held together by people's love for a genre of music. We wanted to provide flexibility in the way we execute it and our props, so we can export the event internationally."

He adds that the concept will not burn out fast by having it on a monthly basis and at different locations, as opposed to a weekly event that would be harder to sustain. Rave Republic has also been held at club Play in Hong Kong.

Mr Ilhammi Tan, 26, who has attended Rave Republic and other themed nights at nightspots here, counts Vice Convent, a theme night held at clubs run by lifestyle management agency Massive Collective, and Rave Republic among his favourite club nights for their consistent DJ standards.

"A lot of DJs are doing theme nights and it's a direction that everyone is exploring," says Mr Tan, who runs his own business consultancy and who clubs nearly every weekend.

"So it comes down to who has the X-factor and who has the whole package."

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