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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

It's time to party

Get your engine revving with the parties taking place the weekend of the Formula One races
The Straits Times - September 14, 2012
By: Melissa Kok And Eddino Abdul Hadi
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It's time to party ST PHOTO: TED CHEN

With Formula One season roaring into town again next weekend, party revellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to concerts and nightclub parties.

The three-day event, which runs from Sept 21 to 23, will see more than 30 local and international acts, including American pop band Maroon 5, Taiwanese singer Jay Chou and pop siren Katy Perry, entertaining tens of thousands of racegoers.

The executive director of Singapore GP, Mr Michael Roche, says: "The spread of live acts was designed to reach out to a broad spectrum of music tastes but still with mass appeal in mind."

He notes that Chou's gig at the massive Padang stage, which measures 24m by 14m, will be his only concert so far this year.

"His set is on a scale never seen before in Singapore. I should say this is the grandest stage and setting for an Asian artist ever seen. He has curated the show and added some wonderful stage props and surprises that I believe will truly thrill the fans."

F1 party organisers and nightclub operators are also cashing in on F1 fever, banking on racegoers and club-hoppers who are looking to soak up the atmosphere and for a chance to rub shoulders with celebrities and the party elite.

And why not, when partygoers are willing to fork out between $1,000 and $27,000 for table packages? Tickets to many of these parties are selling fast, with table bookings being made months in advance.

One partygoer planning a turbo- charged time is Mr Stephen Davis, 29, a senior marketing manager who has attended several F1-themed parties in the past few years and plans to party at Ku De Ta, the Johnny Walker Circuit Lounge at Gardens by the Bay and Podium Lounge at Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore this year.

He says: "I started planning this week. Without planning with your friends early, it's going to be quite hard to link up with everyone, given the crowd and entertainment offerings taking place at various locations within the circuit. The game plan is important."

Indeed, F1-themed parties, exclusive or not, have meant a boost in earnings for some clubs by about 20 per cent, bolstered by a surge in tourists looking to club after the race and executives who will be entertaining corporate clients through the night.

And these parties are pulling out all the stops, with some offering free flow of premium champagne and house spirits and others staging fashion shows.

Clubs such as Avalon and Ku De Ta in the Marina Bay area are anticipating a surge in bookings closer to the F1 weekend.

Ku De Ta has already filled 40 per cent of the club's table booking capacity for the weekend since it started taking reservations a month ago, while Avalon says the bookings "are looking good" since it released its price list this week.

Even some nightspots outside the Marina Bay area, such as the 600-capacity 1-Altitude bar at Raffles Place, were completely booked out last year and are expecting a similar turnout this year.

St James Power Station at Sentosa Gateway, which holds F1-themed parties annually, sees a surge of about 50 per cent in patronage for the F1 period.

Ms Geraldine Tay, marketing manager for St James Holdings, says: "It's due to the F1 hype and tourists. There are tons of pre-party celebrations and parties happening during the F1 race weekend... people are fascinated with the F1 spirit."

At the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore's poolside, the three-day Podium Lounge has bumped up its venue capacity to 950, from 450 when the event first started in 2009.

The event, which has attracted international celebrities such as rapper Shaggy and two-time world champion F1 driver Fernando Alonso, is already around 90 per cent sold and organisers are already expecting to have to turn people away.

Mr Robbie Hoyes-Cock, who is behind Podium Lounge, says: "By the end of the week, we would have sold more tickets and tables than we have for the whole of last year, and this is a week before the event, so this is the biggest year for us."

But not all nightclubs seem to be benefiting from F1 fever.

The Butter Factory at One Fullerton usually sees a 20 per cent dip in earnings due to the club's location and other activities already happening in the same vicinity.

Ms Celeste Chong, marketing director of The Butter Factory, explains: "What happens is that most taxis don't want to go into the area and people also tend to avoid going into the circuit area if they are not there already for the race, so we usually end up with a late crowd."

Indeed, this year, the club features an all-local DJ line-up. Previously, it had brought in international acts such as American rapper Chingy for the F1 weekend.

Although Ms Chong says the club is still going with a race theme for the F1 weekend, she adds: "It's hard to compete with all the concerts and parties. Some, like the Johnnie Walker Jet Black party, even serve free drinks all night."


Gillman galleries see good crowd