'Maybe you'll find a boyfriend here tonight': Sights & sounds on Zouk's first reopening night

Zouk's dance floor came back to life for the first time in a long time.

Fiona Tan | April 21, 2022, 10:02 PM

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"This can't be it," I thought to myself as loud electronic music blared out to a crowd of none on Zouk's dance floor on Apr. 20.

Nightlife (finally) reopening

It was the first night that the club reopened since the pandemic upended Singapore's nightlight industry in Mar. 26, 2020.

In the two-plus years since, Covid-19 restrictions in Singapore have been mostly lifted across all fronts gradually, and this includes other nightlife haunts, such as pubs and bars.

Night clubs, discotheques, and karaoke establishments were left behind in the dust in a cloud of uncertainty until the announcement on Apr. 4, 2022 that said these establishments will be allowed to "fully" reopen from Apr. 19, 2022.

Some of these night spots opened as soon as the first day when restrictions were lifted, albeit to a dismal crowd, as observed by CNA.

Others like Zouk chose to wait and reopen on Wednesday, Apr. 20, a "traditional clubbing day", while Singapore's biggest night club Marquee chose to remain shuttered altogether.

In fact, Marquee will not be making a comeback this week, nor does it have a "definite date" for that matter, but its spokesperson said the reopening will be announced at a later date.

Zouk's first club night

So, what was the crowd like at Zouk during its first club night in two years?

Besides myself, the only other people in the club were Zouk's employees and several members of the media, all of whom were anticipating to get the first glimpse of eager partygoers raring to go on the dance floor.

But, alas, the time was only 9:45pm and we were a little too early, or we were perhaps a little out of touch with clubbing norms where partygoers typically arrive fashionably late.

The latter was clearly evident when we found the blaring electronic dance music, colloquially known as EDM, a little too jarring for our unseasoned and tender eardrums.

This coupled with the flashing strobe lights and smoke machine made for quite the experience, and the only thing missing was the mass of trashing bodies synchronised to the pulsating beat.

Dance hits, literally. Image by Fiona Tan.

However, there was a palpable sense of excitement in the air as it was finally The Night that many have waited for.

Zouk group's chief finance officer Alex Phua would say so himself when I spoke to him in a place where we could safely hear each other outside the club, where partygoers have started to slowly trickle in.

Some queued at the car park turned makeshift pre-event test venue to get tested right before their big night out, where antigen rapid tests (ART) were going at S$20 a pop, nearly double the price of a supervised ART test at some places that offer it at just S$12.

Image by Fiona Tan.

But, willing buyers, willing sellers, right?

Some of the partygoers whom I spoke to said the cost of an ART, while expensive, was well worth it as it was their ticket to being back on the dance floor.

Image by Fiona Tan.

Image by Fiona Tan.


Others, who presumably took their ART tests beforehand, formed a line outside Zouk, while continental cars ferrying more partygoers rolled in to the adjacent driveway periodically.

Image by Fiona Tan.

Doors opened for the first few partygoers by 10:09pm, most of whom had a printout of their tickets ready on hand to present to the door staff.

It was almost as if they wanted to speed up the clearance process at the door and could not bear to wait any longer.

Video by Fiona Tan.

Image by Fiona Tan.


Inside Zouk, the empty tables started to fill up and partygoers flocked to the bar to place their drink orders.

Image by Fiona Tan.

One of whom was 19-year-old Michael, who clutched a beer bottle in hand and excitedly disclosed that it was his first time clubbing.

The full-time national serviceman is part of what's known as "the lost generation", a generation of 19- to 21- year-old youths that has been "robbed" of the rite of passage once they hit the legal age for clubbing.

He was accompanied by three other boisterous boys, one of them quipped to me that he hoped to have some luck meeting a member of the opposite sex that night.

Image by Fiona Tan.

Four brave partygoers were the first to take to the dance floor and seemed to lap up the luxury of not having to share the space with others by dancing freely and exclaimed to me that they felt "amazing".

They were clearly more interested in merrymaking than talking to me because one of the partygoer turned to her friends after and asked: "Why are there so many paparazzis?"

First on the dance floor. Image by Andrew Koay.

Image by Andrew Koay.

Video by Fiona Tan.

11pm to 12am

I took that as my cue to leave and made my way out of the club.

By 11:15pm, the crowd at Zouk's pre-event test venue had more than doubled, proving the "fashionably late theory".

Image by Fiona Tan.

Image by Fiona Tan.

Yura, 28, was one of them, who arrived close to midnight.

She found the pre-event test requisite "a little complicated" because, on the one hand, that meant having to go early to avoid a long wait in line, but on the other, she said, "You don't go to the club really early too.”

Image by Fiona Tan.

Other partygoers who were seen arriving close to midnight was billionaire heiress Kim Lim and her betrothed, and a certain budding Mediacorp actor.

There were also plenty of hugs seen exchanged outside the club, as partygoers huddled in groups and caught up with one another before the music inside the club drowned out their conversations.

A group of girls were discussing the state of their love life beside me, and one of them told her friend hopefully: "Maybe you'll find a boyfriend here tonight."

12am to 1am

Most of the partygoers I approached declined to speak to me after, and one of them even told me: "I'm sorry, but I am in a rush to go in [to the club]."

And this is understandably so, why waste time outside when you could be jamming to Echosmith's “Cool Kids” with all of the other cool kids on the dance floor?

All the cool kids at 12:15am. Video by Mothership reader.

The party started to go into full swing by 12:30am.

With less than three hours to go before Zouk closes at 3am, there was simply no time to lose and more bodies joined the dance floor.

Packed dance floor at 12:30am. Image by Mothership reader.

Outside Zouk at 12:15am, there was a group of girls caring for one of their fallen comrade, who perhaps had knocked back one too many drinks in all her excitement.

I understand that they were year two university students who had decided to take a short break from their studies and release some of their pent-up tension.

Girls just wanna have fun. Image by Fiona Tan.

She was clearly not the only one that night who had a little too much to drink as shortly after at 12:30am, I saw an infamous sight: Paramedics pushing a stretcher towards Zouk.

For those who are unfamiliar, the stretcher is meant for individuals who have knocked clean out and have to be peeled off of and stretchered away from whichever flat surface they have passed out on.

Image by Fiona Tan.

There were just a handful of people outside the club, some who were partygoers taking a short breather.

I managed to speak to two of them: 23-year-old dance instructor Valerie and 25-year-old student Ellie.

IJOOZ orange juice break because it's important to hydrate. Image by Fiona Tan.

Both Valerie and Ellie echoed Yura's concern and said they might need a little time to get used to interacting and socialising with others in a club setting.

This careful trepidation was the same sentiment felt in the air, and perhaps explained why partygoers were observed to be more subdued than normal.

However, this was not enough to stop 19-year-old Yuvika and 21-year-old Tanya from having a good time.

Tanya, who was clubbing for the first time, said that her experience had exceeded her expectations, when it was only 12:30 am and she had 2.5 hours more to go.

Image by Fiona Tan.

Even the smoking corner outside Zouk felt different, more muted than before, remarked a 25-year-old man whose name I did not get. He and three others had spent a considerable amount outside Zouk as they were not aware they had to pre-purchase tickets online.

But perhaps it was for the better, as he told me he had to work tomorrow.

Image by Andrew Koay.

For those who are planning to head down to Zouk, bear in mind that there is currently no walk-in and tickets have to be bought online.

However, tickets for this Saturday have been completely sold out. Table reservations have also been fully booked for the next one month.

Zouk Group's CFO Phua said they will be operating at 50 per cent capacity, which equates to a maximum capacity of 500, until they are able to beef up their manpower.

1am onwards

Back in the club, partygoers belted out the lyrics to Backstreet Boys' “I Want It That Way” and moved their bodies with vigour.

Video by Mothership reader.

For the first time in a long time, Zouk's dance floor came back to life, and many of the partygoers said they would remain on the dance floor partying under the electric sky all the way till the last song at 3am.

But by 1:10am, I called it a night as I am way too old, and far too sober.

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Top image courtesy of Mothership reader