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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Club revival

With partygoers now preferring cosier settings, nightspots revamp their spaces and music too
The Straits Times - February 25, 2012
By: Kenneth Goh
| More
Club revival To draw attention to the 13m-long stage where live music entertainment takes place, Tab put in place more than 30 lighting installations. -- ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

A handful of nightclubs has upped the entertainment ante over the past four months.

They have undergone renovations ranging from minor nips and tucks such as throwing on a fresh coat of paint, to overhauls that wipe out traces of their previous exist- ence.

One of them is Zouk's Velvet Underground, which in October had its space split into two smaller venues - a dance area and a lounge.

Zouk's head of marketing and events, Mr Timothy Chia, 31, says the revamp was driven by the diminishing trend of 'the superclub', which was in vogue in the 1990s and saw people thronging a huge dance floor.

He says: 'In recent years, we have seen how smaller, cosier and more intimate spaces have taken centre stage in our consumers' tastes and preferences.'

Lifebrandz chief executive officer Bernard Lim, 42, says this trend was also the reason behind Mandopop nightclub Lunar at Clarke Quay closing down last October.

He says: 'Lunar, with its two-storey space, was too big to become a successful nightclub as too few people came to fill the space to build up the vibe except on Fridays and Saturdays.'

The space was converted into two outlets - Asian nightclub Coco and restaurant-cum-bar Aquanova - in December.

Besides changes to the interior design, the music repertoire at some of these places has been injected with an Asian flavour.

Live music venue Tab at the old Orchard Hotel Galleria recently tied up with Club Neverland Thai disco in Orchard Plaza to come up with a nightly song-and- dance performance. It will feature singers belting out radio-friendly hits in Thai, Mandarin and English. Tab closed for a month-long renovation last month.

Life! checks out four entertainment spots which have changed their looks.


Nightlife stalwart Velvet Underground saw its biggest revamp when it closed for a $3-million renovation in October.

The 17-year-old club had previously undergone three facelifts, with the last one taking place in 2005.

In its latest incarnation, the 6,000 sq ft space has been divided into two separate rooms - the dance area, Velvet Underground Dance, and the more cosy and exclusive Velvet Underground Lounge.

Independent design consultant Phillips Connor, 53, headed a five-man team for the month-long project. He worked on the club's last two revamps in 2000 and 2005.

Once past security, clubbers have the option of entering the lounge, or going down a curved corridor towards Velvet Underground Dance, which is located behind the lounge. The curved corridor features a boomerang-inspired wall feature, which consists of 300 2m-tall microfibre fins that emit white light.

Facing these fins is a 15m-long wall-to-ceiling digital art wallpaper which showcase a vibrant riot of colours by Slovenian-based artist Ina Conradi.

Along with a monochromatic tattoo art feature wall near the toilets, which Mr Connor designed, these installations add to Velvet Underground's art collection, which is valued at more than $6 million.

Twelve pop art pieces by Japanese designer Takashi Murakami decorate the lounge, which features a muted palette of olive green and light brown. Mr Connor says: 'This is an extension of your living room, except that it is edgier.'

The space is intimate, with a low ceiling and just 12 tables. Guests sit on velvety lounge sofas with flowery and digital prints that Mr Connor custom-designed.

The highlight of the lounge is its 8m-long bar counter, which is made up of thousands of coloured resin slabs that are stacked unevenly. Designed by Mr Connor, the bar cost $100,000 to build.

At Velvet Underground Dance, the focus is on the ceiling, which is entirely taken up by a 15m by 6m LED panel. The massive screen flashes patterns that are synchronised to music played by its resident DJs Jeremy Boon and Ming, who spin electronic dance music twice a week from a 7m-long DJ console.

Opposite the DJ console is a bar counter which features thousands of twisted clear acrylic blocks that reflect light at different angles.

Velvet regular Gerald Ong, 22, a Singapore Management University student, likes the LED ceiling feature. He says: 'It looks really beautiful and even if I do not feel like dancing, I can just stand there and admire the beautiful visuals.'

Where: 17 Jiak Kim Street, tel: 6738-2988, open: 9pm till late (on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays)


For the two-month-old Aquanova Restaurant Bar at Clarke Quay, design project coordinator Max Chen of Lifebrandz, which owns the outlet, looked to Clarke Quay's landmark fountain for inspiration.

The amoeba-shaped fountain sits at the doorstep of the futuristic-looking outlet.

Organic, irregular shapes abound in its interior. Look up and there are cut-outs in the false ceiling that are meant to resemble puddles of water. The expansive front windows have undulating outlines, which are lined with blue LED lights.

The curvy concept extends to the furnishings, such as turquoise and grey lounge sofas under squiggly shaped ceiling lights. Booth seats feature circular high tables and chairs.

Taking centre stage in the 7,000 sq ft space is a circular stage, where its resident bands perform.

Lifebrandz's Asian dance club Coco occupies the space above Aquanova. Both take over the space previously occupied by Lunar nightclub. The space was renovated at a cost of $2.5 million.

While Aquanova sports an icy-cool vibe, warm orange hues dominate Coco.

Lifebrandz chief executive Bernard Lim, 42, says: 'We want to move away from the stereotype of having oriental lanterns and red colours to give people a fresh experience when enjoying Asian pop music.'

Visitors to the club enter via a Star Trek-esque tunnel, complete with laser beams that project onto the ceiling.

Inside, the 7,500 sq ft space is divided into a 50-seater VIP lounge area, music suites and a main dance floor.

There are six dance podiums scattered around the dance floor. One of them comes with poles for the club's in-house dancers to entertain the crowd.

Filling up the walls in the VIP area are around 50 pieces of Chinese pop art, which feature women in suggestive poses.

There is an almost boudoir-like feel in the two music suites, which can fit up to 50 people each.

The look is opulent, with plush velvet armchairs and a baby grand piano. The soundproof rooms are adorned with Chinese pop art paintings set against purple and black wallpaper, which is filled with ring-like shapes.


Where: Clarke Quay Block C, 01-03, tel: 6305-6733, open: noon till late


Where: Clarke Quay Block C, 02-03, tel: 6305-6768, open: 8pm to 4am daily, closed on Tuesdays


Live music venue Tab may be adding colourful Thai music to its performance line-up, but decor-wise, it has opted for a black palette.

The 10,000 sq ft space closed for a month last month for renovations. It reopened on Wednesday last week.

Its previous light brown wooden walls and parquet flooring have been painted black.

Tab's director, Mr Adrian Mah, 33, says: 'Besides having an edgier and darker vibe, we wanted to draw the eye towards the main focus - the stage.'

He says the aim was to make 'the place look and feel like a club, compared to its previous look as a nice restaurant'.

The stage and its lighting contributed to the bulk of the $500,000 renovation costs.

Helping to draw attention to the 13m-long stage are more than 30 lighting installations, such as Jarags, rows of 15 individually controlled lights, which can be programmed for patterned effects, and Sharpies, which emit piercing and colourful light beams from elevated stands on stage.

Seven LED screens have also been added to the stage wall, the largest of which spans 3m by 3m. These screens will flash colourful moving graphics and music videos.

The stage area was increased by 10 per cent to accommodate a DJ console and more space for performances, such as The Neverland Exclusive At Tab, which has 10 performers singing and dancing to a four- piece Thai rock band.

The 200-seater venue has done away with its dining booths which previously occupied the back area. In their place is a new VIP lounge area where rows of monochromatic vinyl diner booth seats have been rearranged to face the stage.

Where: 442 Orchard Road, 02-29, tel: 6493-6952; go to for opening hours



Time to party - without the booze