Show stealers

Show stealers

At Asian fusion discotheque Neverland II recently, it looked like the Hallyu, or Korean pop music wave, had swept over to hubba-hubba land.

The show-stealers were a group of six leggy South Korean women, who could easily have passed for a professional K-pop girl group eyeing Girls' Generation's throne.

Never missing a beat, the six cutesy women who go by the name Viva Girls hip-swayed and twirled on stage in unison, singing renditions of popular K-pop numbers with harmonised vocals.

One of them, 25-year-old South Korean Rena Kwon, mesmerised the crowd as she belted out English love ballads by the likes of Alicia Keys and Adele.

In a bid to cater to a wider audience and keep the Asian fusion club concept fresh, more Asian club operators are casting their nets farther afield in a bid to go international with their entertainment offerings.

It is now common to find male and female singers and dancers from places such as South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and even as far away as Russia and Ukraine performing at such clubs.

Only a few years ago, the majority of foreign entertainers in Asian clubs hailed from Thailand and China.

But in the past year, clubs have begun hiring entertainers from other parts of Asia and even Eastern Europe.

Life! counted at least a dozen Asian clubs that now feature such performers who either work at the club from four months to two years at a stretch or are engaged for one-off performances.

Says a spokesman for the Neverland Group, which runs a stable of nightclubs, including Neverland in Orchard Plaza, Neverland II and Club Sonar in Orchard Hotel: "We brought in Korean and Eastern European performers to keep our entertainment offerings fresh with new acts, which is also in line with our vision in redefining live entertainment."

The Neverland Group hired Viva Girls through an entertainment agency based in South Korea and also employed a group of Russians and Ukranians to dance freestyle during the DJ sets at the club.

Club patrons are taking to the Asian melting pot concept.

"Koreans dance way better than a lot of other performers from other countries. They are more professional and they look like they work very hard and practise every day," says Mr Sebastian Tan, 47, an IT executive who occasionally visits Asian clubs and enjoys performances by Koreans and Taiwanese.

At nine-month-old Chinese club Allurez in Middle Road, Taiwanese and Japanese male and female singers and dancers entertain club patrons, performing Cantonese, English, Hokkien and Korean pop songs. Taiwanese make up the bulk of its foreign entertainers.

One of Allurez's four owners, who wants to be known only as Mr Z. Ho, 33, says when they set up the club, they "felt there was a market for such performers from Taiwan, because no one was really doing it".

Back then, performers from Thailand and China were all the rage and no one had thought about hiring entertainers from other parts of Asia.

"The flower club concept is unique in Asia and we wanted to take it to the next level by injecting it with a different culture and cater to a wider, sophisticated audience," says Mr Ho, referring to the flower garland culture popular in Asian clubs, where patrons show appreciation for performers by purchasing flower garlands and silk sashes for them.

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