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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Western clubs go K-pop

Butter Factory plays Korean hits once a week while other clubs hold one-off K-pop nights
The Straits Times - January 3, 2012
By: Melissa Kok
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Western clubs go K-pop K-pop night on Thursdays at Butter Factory. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Just when you think the K-pop craze has spread far enough, its infectious sound and slick dance moves have found a new - and growing - group of fans in Singapore's clubbing scene.

Yes, K-pop has 'infiltrated' the playlists at nightclubs with its dance-y beats and catchy choruses that are perfect for club remixes.

And no, it is not just teenyboppers dropping it like it is hot to K-pop tunes. An older crowd in its mid-20s and 30s is also hip to the beat.

At least one Western music-oriented nightspot has launched a dedicated K-pop night, while several others have held one-off K-pop nights in the past months.

Seeing how popular Korean music has grown of late, The Butter Factory at One Fullerton launched a weekly K-pop night called Gaja! ('let's go' in Korean) last month. For its launch night, the club brought Beatburger, the producers and choreographers behind top K-pop artists such as TVXQ, Super Junior and BoA, to spin a special electro-pop DJ set.

Its marketing director Celeste Chong says: 'Nobody can deny K-pop's growing popularity and since there aren't many parties on a Thursday night, The Butter Factory has decided to indulge in this growing trend and guilty pleasure.'

Club owners and managers tell Life! K-pop is not as huge as, say, Zouk's iconic Mambo night but there is a growing K-pop clubbing community here.

The new East-meets-West-themed nightclub Coco at Clarke Quay held its first K-pop night on Dec 17, while its neighbour, nightspot Attica, held its first K-pop night on Christmas Eve. Both clubs said their event was a one-off affair, but Attica is not ruling out making it a regular entry on its calendar.

Attica's marketing manager Amanda Ng says: 'We had a very good turnout, a lot of the girls love it and our DJ played a five-hour set, mixing Korean pop and hip-hop. We are definitely looking into making it a regular night.'

When Life! headed down to Butter Factory's Gaja! night three weeks in a row, the place was nearly packed with a young crowd in their 20s and 30s, a good show considering it was a regular weekday.

Clubbers sipped on Korean somaek (a sweet mix of soju and beer) and makgeolli (Korean rice wine) as they partied to amped-up versions of K-pop hits such as Super Junior's Sorry Sorry, Girls' Generation's The Boys and SHINee's Ring Ding Dong.

It seemed like the right dose of K-pop as the DJs on the decks weaved in these remixed favourites with R&B and pop songs, such as Lady Gaga's Telephone and Maroon 5's Moves Like Jagger.

Ms Geraldine Tay, marketing manager for St James Holdings, which runs a stable of venues including Powerhouse, Dragonfly and Boiler Room, said: 'The K-pop scene today is edgier and grittier, with a sexier image to boot. With its thumping bass beats and heavily synthesized tracks, it is very much more suited for a club.'

While St James has not organised a K-pop night, Ms Tay said it is no stranger to K-pop performances. Korean boyband U-Kiss performed a showcase at its clubs in 2010, and just last Thursday, boy group Block B performed at Powerhouse.

Ms Tay says the club may consider organising a K-pop night in future.

She says: 'Looking at the popularity of K-pop groups in Singapore, the Korean wave, or Hallyu, is coming and we're certainly not going to turn away from it.'

Nightclub Zouk may also jump on the K-pop bandwagon.

Its marketing and business development manager Sofie Chandra says it has hosted a number of Korean concerts featuring acts such as Brown Eyed Girls and K-pop parties, but it has yet to organise a dedicated K-pop night. However, she adds that 'it is not impossible' to consider having a K-pop-inspired night at the club in future.

Why not, since the Korean hit Nobody by girl group Wonder Girls has already made it onto Zouk's Mambo Jambo playlist on Wednesday nights.

Accounts executive Kimmie Tan, 28, a K-pop fan who had attended two Gaja! nights at Butter Factory, said of her experiences: 'I was hoping for more Korean songs. They were playing too many English songs at some points in the night, then it got slow and you lose the mood.

'At the moment, I know of only Butter's K-pop night. If other clubs are doing the same thing, I'll definitely visit them.'



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