It wasn’t just travelling British DJs and party-goers that original Balearic DJ Alfredo inspired with his now infamous sets at Amnesia in the mid-to-late 1980s. While Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling and company would go on to launch influential acid house-era parties in London, another Amnesia regular, architect and businessman, Lincoln Cheng, would go one step further and build his own Ibiza-style superclub in Singapore: Zouk.
Twenty-eight years after it first opened its doors, Zouk remains one of the World’s most celebrated clubs, offering an unbeatable mix of quality music, top-notch DJs, superb sound and eye-catching décor. While Cheng is no longer involved — he sold the brand in 2015 — his dream of a world-class club in Singapore lives on.
This is an impressive achievement, especially given the club’s 2016 move from its iconic original warehouse space to custom-built premises in Clarke Quay. This allowed for Zouk to effectively become a complex of four interlinked venues, each with its own themed décor and music policy. While it’s Zouk’s large main room that usually gets the headlines, Phuture and Capital are also popular haunts for Singaporean clubbers.
In 2018, Zouk’s management also unveiled another new space. “One of the biggest things for us last year was the introduction of Queens, a speakeasy bar inspired by the hip-hop movement,” Zouk CEO Andrew Li tells DJ Mag. “At the same time we also strengthened the direction of Phuture, focusing its programming to hip-hop only and highlighting the rise of Asian hip-hop artists.”
Being able to respond to musical changes is key for any long-running club. Zouk continues to do this, mirroring shifts in Asian clubbing that sometimes differ from those in the West. “In the last few years music tastes in Singapore have definitely evolved,” explains Li. “There’s increasing interest in hip-hop, but there’s also been a resurgence in interest in techno and trance.”
A quick glance at some of the club’s headliners over the past 12 months confirms this, with Sven Väth, Charlotte de Witte, Vini Vici, Cosmic Gate, Zedd and Jeff Mills all putting in notable performances over the main room’s custom Gart Stewart soundsystem.
Yet for all of the impressive headline guests, the heart of Zouk remains its team of resident DJs — something that Lincoln Cheng prioritized from the start. It’s fitting that one of Zouk’s original resident DJs, Jeremy Boon, remains a key part of the team, alongside younger Singaporean talents such as Ghetto, Hong, Zushan and Nash D.
“Our resident DJs are integral to the Zouk experience,” says Li. “Our current roster holds seven residents, with each of them helming their own signature nights based on their specialities.”
Zouk is a very different proposition to what it once was, but there’s no doubt the club is stronger than ever. Crucially, the venue still operates on similar principles to those that inspired Lincoln Cheng at the turn of the 1990s. “Creating the best possible clubbing experience has always been the goal,” Li adds. “Just as important is the culture of working together as a family.”