Let this party float your boat

SINGAPORE - It's a regular night out, but with a twist.

Instead of hitting the conventional clubs along Clarke Quay, some revellers are taking the fun to local waters, where they dance and get sloshed on a boat.

While private yacht parties organised by the well-heeled are not new, boat parties open to the general public are just beginning to pick up here.

Last Saturday night, 140 young professionals turned up at Marina South Pier at Sentosa, ready to catch the sunset on a passenger boat.

The party cruise was organised by Klink Connection, a social network for working professionals headed by Miss Hazel Ang, Mr Desmond Choo and Mr Guillaume Chab.

Their debut boat party was last month. The entrepreneurs, who are in their 20s, invited participants via a poster which was posted on their Facebook page, named SingaporeUNI.

"We attended a private boat party arranged by a Polish friend and found it quite a good concept for the business we already have," explains Miss Ang, who also ties up with local clubs to market and organise party events.

The boat, which had a maximum capacity of 140, sailed for about two hours past the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands and One Degree 15 Marina Club before docking at Kusu island, a destination which was kept unknown to the partygoers until they arrived.

"The theme of the day was 'mystical island', and the guests were asked to dress according to a pirate theme. "Most of them were quite game, turning up with eye patches and interesting outfits," she says.

Each participant paid $50 to attend the event, on top of cash they dished out for booze from a makeshift bar set up on the boat, which has an exterior resembling Chinese junk boats.

"It begins at about 6pm, just in time to catch the sunset on board. Guests then dance to music churned out by a DJ, and simply hang out," adds Miss Ang.

Partygoers hopped off at the island, located in the south of Singapore, had a dinner of gourmet sandwiches, then ended the night partying at a Clarke Quay club.

"Partygoers are getting tired of just hitting regular clubs to drink and dance. There's demand for new and more unique party experiences in Singapore," quips Miss Ang.

The demand for different and creative party experiences is also observed by Mr Anthony Houlahan, founder of event company Ludih. High-end clientele increasingly want private, "rock-star style" parties at luxurious venues, he says.

"More people are asking us to hire out a luxury hotel suite in Marina Bay, a fancy villa on Sentosa, or a posh yacht and create a large custom event for bachelor parties, birthday parties, graduation parties and the like," he says.

He recalls organising a party in May for 20 men, who had just graduated from a business school here.

"The guys were picked up in a Mercedes and chauffeur-driven to a villa in Sentosa which had a pool.

"As they walked in, their own DJ was spinning and the villa was like a club. We had local bikini-clad models to serve our guests food and drinks prepared by a chef on the spot," he says, adding that the men paid about $8,000 in total for the event.

The Singapore-based event company organises about 20 such parties a month, some of which take place in Bali, Macau, Phuket and Bangkok. "We have an increasing number of people based in Singapore opting for a party weekend away from Singapore.

"Given the high cost of everything here, most of our customers would prefer to get a cheap flight to Bali or Phuket and have an entire weekend of partying there for less than the cost of a night of partying in Singapore," he says.

Saturday's boat party appealed to those who wanted a brief escape from city life, but still observe its beautiful skyline.

Miss Maria Emelkina, who attended both boat parties, says the event was more enjoyable than regular clubbing.

Says the 26-year-old Master's student: "We managed to catch a beautiful sunset and there was food on board.

"In a regular club, you can't really talk because it's too noisy, but this one was quite relaxing and conversation could still take place."

Psychology researcher Jose Yong, 27, who attended September's boat party, says the novel concept made the event a memorable one.

"I don't think that regular clubbing is boring, but the twist in the venue makes the party experience more interesting. Also, the event brought together many people from different countries, so it was quite awesome," he says.

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