The Night Life in Singapore
By Jasmine Goh

The vibrant clubbing scene in Singapore means more options for painting the town red and partying all night.

As our population becomes more diversified and cosmopolitan, it is no wonder that the clubbing scene has followed to become more vibrant.

Ranked second for its nightlife and dining by the Global Country Brand Index, Singapore's appeal as a party destination has grown due to the arrival of global brands such as ZIRCA Mega Club and Café Del Mar.

While mega clubs such as St James Power Station and Zouk currently dominate the local night scene, smaller chill-out bars have popularised areas such as Dempsey Road and Portsdown Road. With an atmosphere of private seclusion, they have become hip places to see and be seen. Some good examples are Oosh and Hacienda at Dempsey, and Klee at Portsdown Road.

When gearing up for a wild night out, do keep in mind that Singapore has strict laws pertaining to substance abuse and trafficking – party drugs are no exception. Moreover, there are stringent rules when it comes to drink-driving. Drivers caught with more than 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath (or more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood) will face hefty fines in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 or a six-month jail term.

Smoking is also banned in clubs and food establishments here, so if you need to light up, you will have to leave the premises or make your way to designated smoking rooms.

Nevertheless, be prepared to be amazed by the wide range of partying options available in Singapore. From chilling out at intimate bars to jiving to fresh beats in mega clubs, we guarantee that you will be spoilt for choice.

The big names
Zouk
17 Jiak Kim Street
Singapore 169420
Tel: 6738 2988
www.zoukclub.com

As one of the first clubs to establish itself in Singapore, Zouk is completely homegrown and a must-visit for every tourist or expatriate looking for the ultimate Singaporean clubbing experience. Having won the Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) "Nightspot of the Year" award for the seventh time in 2008, it remains a staple of the local clubbing scene.

Zouk is also famous for holding the annual large-scale beach party, ZoukOut, which won the Singapore Tourism Best Leisure Event Experience Award in 2007. It is the social event not to be missed by everyone from hip youngsters to dazzling socialites.

Besides its local accolades, Zouk is also known internationally through exclusive features in glossy international magazines such as Wallpaper and TimeOut.

Known for its specialty of electronica, house and trance music, Zouk has played host to renowned artistes and DJs from all over the world, including Paul Oakenfold and Peaches. It is also a favourite venue for live events. In March 2008, Heineken Green Room brought British band, The Rakes to Zouk, where they gave a stellar performance to a great crowd.

After spending $7 million on refurbishments, the club breathed new life to its four outlets: Zouk, Velvet Underground, Phuture and Winebar.

Decorated with Gaudi-inspired tiles, the main room is equipped with cutting-edge sound and lighting systems. Zouk has regular music-themed events such as We Love House and Mambo Jambo, the latter of which has become almost a cult event in Singapore. Taking place every Wednesday night, its faithful fans boogie to classic retro tunes like "Square Rooms" and &uot;Joanna".

Hopping over to Velvet Underground, one will find the young and rich lounging around to house music and bottles of liquor. Meanwhile, the soul children of R&B and hip-hop will feel most at home in Phuture. Entrance is limited in Phuture, so remember to queue early if you want to get in!

For those who want to enjoy nothing more than drinks and conversation, head over to Winebar, a popular place for business executives to relax after work.

The Cannery
Blk 3C River Valley Road
Clarke Quay
Tel: 6887 3733
www.the-cannery.com

If you wish to be spoilt for choice, head down to Clarke Quay and dazzle your senses at The Cannery. Consisting of eight different bars and clubs, The Cannery has it all – fringe shows, hip-hop, pop, retro funk, live music, and even art.

ZIRCA Mega Club features a spectacle of audio-visual treats every night, pushing the boundaries of clubbing by combining the best of Cirque and cabaret. Hip-hop boutique club Rebel’s resident DJs will have you pumping your fists on the dance floor, surrounded by life-sized toy collectibles on display. Yello Jello is the best place for retro enthusiasts, while FashionBar promises a chic crowd comprising models, aircrew and hip fashionistas.

With its opulently plush music suites and intimate lounge setting, Yue will bring out the songbird in you. Lunar, with its floor-to-ceiling display of Chinese pop art, is great for those who appreciate art, privacy and good sake.

Be sure to also check out The Clinic, a concept-based supper club that has an underground vibe and a two-storey-high LED wall, as well as Nectarie, dubbed “the place for clubbers who eat cake”.

St James Power Station
3 Sentosa Gateway
#01-01 Singapore 098544
Tel: 270 7676
www.stjamespowerstation.com

Located next to VivoCity, St James Power Station was opened in late 2006. Developed at a cost of S$40 million, the entertainment complex consists of numerous outlets with operating capacities ranging from 250 to 1,000.

Focusing on live music, most of the outlets are targeted at professionals, managers, executives, and businessmen (or PMEBs for short), often facilitating business deals and offering an alternative to dance-oriented mega clubs. Paying the cover charge at any outlet will give you access to the others, making bar-hopping affordable and convenient.

Powerhouse is a 10,000 sq ft dance club that caters to fun-loving types, while Movida is a cosy world music bar that juxtaposes a minimalist feel with vibrant salsa music, African beats and salsa dancers.

But if you prefer to sing your own tunes, there's Mono, a monochromatic themed karaoke bar with comfy plush interiors. Also visit Dragonfly, a space dedicated to stylised Mandarin pop entertainment.

Live music venues
The Pump Room
3B River Valley Road
The Foundry
#01-09/10
Singapore 179021
Tel: 6334 2628
www.pumproomasia.com

For a fun and pleasurable array of live music, good food and freshly brewed beer, no one can afford to miss The Pump Room. A popular haunt of European and American expatriates, its trademark decoration is its microbrewery visible through a glass panel. Famed for its home-brewed beer, its specialty "Wheat Ale" has won a Silver Medal in the 2007 World Beer Championships.

The Pump Room is also a bistro famous for its steak, lamb and Scottish salmon main courses. While waiting for their mains, you can try finger food such as the popular Fisherman's Basket containing crab cakes, battered prawns and scallops.

If you are looking for live music, The Pump Room will hardly disappoint with its in-house band, Jive Talkin', whose veteran musicians will rock your socks off with their repertoire of 80s favourites, modern rock and jazz music.

The Arena
3B River Valley Road
#01-08 Clarke Quay
Singapore 179021
www.thearenalive.com.sg

Established in 2007, The Arena is a live music destination for a crowd of all ages. With its spacious interiors specially designed to capture your attention on its large, glamorous stage, The Arena is a classy place for catching up with friends and entertaining clients who love live music in the form of nu-jazz, progressive rock, soul, and R&B.

Their house band, the multi-talented Da-Remix from America, will entertain you with Top 40 hits from the likes of Black Eyed Peas, Nelly Furtado and Shakira.

Home Club
20 Upper Circular Road
B1-01/06 The Riverwalk
Singapore 058416
www.homeclub.com.sg

"Welcome to the glamorous underground", reads Home Club's official website. Indeed, this is the favourite haunt of indie music lovers and anyone who shuns mainstream offerings. Voted Best New Small Club and Best Underground Joint by Juice magazine in 2006, Home Club offers a cosy alternative to glamorous mega clubs. Located next to Boat Quay, the club takes pride in its pro-local philosophy, often holding events which feature local musicians and artistes.

On weeknights, the club is ideal for chill-out sessions, while weekends see kooky young adults congregating at the intimate space to unwind to alternative dance tunes, or chat the night away at the outdoor patio by the river. Regular events include Home Turns, where members of the public get to play their own music, and BEAT!, a popular showcase of original rock anthems.

Plain chilling
Hacienda
13A Dempsey Road
Singapore 249674
Tel: 6476 2922
www.hacienda.com.sg

Despite being one of Dempsey's earliest tenants, Hacienda still stands as a favourite among expatriates and celebrities such as MTV's Denise Keller. Thanks to bossa nova and soothing house music, the atmosphere here is laidback, while the mini Wagyu burgers are simply delectable. Specialties include cocktails such as the classic martini and mojito, which you can customise at your own expense. The lychee mojito, a tantalising combination of sweetness and mint, is a must-try.

On top of it all, Hacienda's DJ booth is helmed by talented local and foreign artistes, with past performances by big names such as Kelly Rowland from Destiny's Child.

Km8
120 Tanjong Beach Walk
Sentosa (an offshore island in Singapore)
Singapore 098942
Tel: 6274 2288
www.km8.com.sg

If intimacy is what you seek, head down to the secluded Tanjong Beach at Sentosa. Located right on the beach is Km8, a perfect setting for a relaxing day under the sun. Sip on your favorite cocktails while lounging on deck chairs or take a dip in the Jacuzzi to beat the heat.

A brilliant venue for people-watching, expect locals and foreigners clad in beachwear to pack the venue in the day. When night falls, the place is transformed into an outdoor club of sorts, thanks to music courtesy of international DJs who provide the soundtrack for a magical night under the stars.

loof
331 North Bridge Rd
#03-07
Odeon Towers Extension Rooftop
Singapore 188720
Tel: 6338 8035
www.loof.com.sg

This urban rooftop bar is half al fresco, half indoor lounge. Chill out to soul, funk and down-tempo electronica as you take in an unobstructed view of the night sky or gaze through the glass gallery at the twinkling city lights.

A popular haunt of young working professionals, loof has been named “Best Singapore Bar” by British Airway’s in-flight magazine, and labelled as one of the favourite 20 bars in the world by Travel+Leisure magazine. Weekly events such as Satay Mondays (free flow of satay from 6pm to 9pm) and Finger-Licking Martini Tuesdays (40% off martinis all night long) promise to draw the crowd after a hard day’s work.