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As Club Shutdown Prolongs, Nightlife Icon Zouk Is Adapting

For one, its Capital lounge will be transformed into a dine-in eatery.

Zouk turned 28 last year. Photo: Gabe Tan/Red for Female

What was once one of the most crowded nightspots in Singapore has sat empty for more than two months, with no end to the shutdown in sight. The closure has prompted Zouk’s management team to get creative to prevent layoffs.

For a start, it is inking a deal with Lazada to rent out its 31,000 sq ft Clarke Quay club as a live streaming venue during the day and to host monthly bazaars for e-commerce vendors once restrictions allow. Capital, a lounge within the Zouk complex, will be transformed into a dine-in eatery when Singapore enters phase two of its reopening if its application for a food shop licence is approved.

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“We’re thinking of it as a pop-up kitchen serving staples like pastas and steaks. Clubs will probably be the last to open, so it’s a good test bed to see how we can safely enter that space again in a more controlled environment,” Zouk Group chief executive Andrew Li told The Straits Times.

Revellers at Zouk’s night with Britpop and rock-playing collective Poptart. Photo: Gabe Tan/Red for Female

Bars and entertainment outlets have been shut since late March – before the start of the two-month circuit breaker – and it is unclear when they will be able to reopen. While most businesses and services will be allowed to resume in Phase 2 with safety measures in place, the authorities are taking a more cautious approach to higher-risk activities that involve large groups gathering in enclosed spaces.

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Some nightlife operators, including Zouk, have been bottling their liquid creations for delivery and streaming DJ sets during the closure. Last week, it launched an online shop selling merchandise, bottled cocktails and food from its RedTail kitchen. There are also talks with major retailers about putting canned cocktails on shelves, said Li.

Zouk has been bottling their liquid creations for delivery and streaming DJ sets during the circuit-breaker closure. Last week, it launched an online shop selling merchandise, bottled cocktails and food from its RedTail kitchen. Photo: Gabe Tan/Red for Female

Corporate packages for Zoom parties, complete with food, booze and music, are also on the cards. Zouk tied up with the Singapore Tourism Board last month to host three days of virtual parties featuring performances by the likes of American DJ Diplo and local artist Jasmine Sokko.

Read More: On Zouk – Its Legacy And Future 28 Years On

“We’ve since had several requests from companies, and we can even do proper events with an emcee, awards and games. I think it could have future applications after social distancing,” Li said.

These new revenue streams will hopefully keep it afloat until revellers can return to the dance floor, as well as speed up Zouk’s transformation from nightclub operator to lifestyle group, he said. The group also runs the Five Guys burger joint at Plaza Singapura. “In good times, you get bogged down by the day-to-day, but since everything has closed, we’ve had to be a lot more innovative,” said Mr Li.

Zouk Group chief executive Andrew Li said the new revenue streams will hopefully keep it afloat until revellers can return to the dance floor. Photo: The Straits Times

With the exception of Capital, which will revert to a lounge when clubs can resume operations, all of the new initiatives will continue for the foreseeable future, he added. “A lot of things have been accelerated in terms of ideas and concepts that we thought we would do in two to three years, but we’re now doing in two months.”

While it will be some time before nightclubs can once again cater to packed houses, “at least now there’s a bit of light at end of tunnel”, he said.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.