The hottest hangouts in Singapore's dance scene
From tourists shaking their booties (and most of the cash out of their pockets) listening to the band at Raffles Hotel, to the skinny-jean set pulling shapes on the dance floor at Zouk (the club single-handedly responsible for the existence of a dance scene in Singapore) the Little Red Dot definitely knows how to get its groove on.
Best mega club: Zouk
There is one name synonymous with the dance scene in Singapore -- Zouk. Founded in 1991, this island institution has managed to stay relevant throughout the years by keeping both its decor and the jocks on the decks cool and cutting edge. In its latest incarnation, the bastion of beats now consists of four separate venues: the Wine Bar, a mellow indoor/outdoor space where you can have a few drinks and get your hips lubricated for a night of grinding; Velvet Underground, a plush low-ceilinged affair that makes you feel like you’re grooving in a friend’s basement -- a really hip friend; Phuture, a space-age space with a small dancefloor and lots of room for socializing; and Zouk itself -- a cavern of color with multiple bars, seating nooks and dance areas. The music depends on who’s visiting any particular night of the week (past DJs have included such dance royalty as Paul Oakenfold, Louie Vega, John Digweed and Gilles Peterson), but to sum up the overall vibe, if it’s got a beat, you’ll hear it -- and move to it -- here.
Zouk: 17 Jiak Kim Street, Singpaore 169420; tel. +65 6738 2988; www.zoukclub.com
Best hot house: Stereolab and Stereolounge
Opened in 2009, Stereolab -- and its adjoined twin, Stereolounge -- really classed up the dance scene in town. Sitting on the ground floor of the Pan Pacific hotel, this is not your ordinary hotel club. In fact, it was ground zero for much of the glitterati the last time the F1 spectacle roared into town. The front room is called Stereolounge and is done up in elegant woods, plush seating options and lighting that makes everyone look glam. Here you can listen to the DJ spin out beat-heavy lounge and chill tracks from his tower in the centre of the room -- often accompanied by a live percussion or sax player. After you’re good and warmed up (thanks in no small part to the great 1-for-1 drink specials Stereolounge is always running), you can groove into the back room, known as Stereolab where mad scientists of music brew up heady concoctions of solid and soulful house. The room only holds 300 people so the vibe stays intimate, cool and chic.
Stereolab and Stereolounge: Pan Pacific Hotel, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, Singapore 039595; tel. +65 6337 0800; www.stereolounge.sg
Best live music: Long Bar
There are lots of places to hear live music in Singapore, but this is a dance article right? So, for the sheer romance of it all, we’re going to give this category to the seven-piece band that plays at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel. Sure, this is the epicenter of the tourism scene in town, but if you avoid the overpriced, over-sugared Singapore Slings downstairs and head up the spiral staircase, you’ll find Moodique holding court seven nights a week in a wood-paneled room that really does evoke a sense of Singapore’s colonial past. You can tap your feet on the peanut-shell-strewn floor while nestling into comfy seats, but once the guys (and Faridah, the very talented female lead-singer) start cranking out the funk, soul and pop covers, it gets harder and harder not to take to the dance floor. Plus, because the crowd skews slightly older, there is no velvet-rope or tight-black-dress posturing here. Just good music, good times and a collection of some of the most skilled musicians in town jamming like they’ve been doing for 18 years.
Raffles Long Bar: Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673; tel. +65 6337 1886; www.raffles.com
Best indie/underground scene: Home
Like the indie scene itself, Home is not big on glitz. Consisting of a rectangular room painted black with a bar tucked in one corner and some ragtag furniture scattered about, the true color here comes from the international and local DJs that helm the decks. The small space has hosted such big names as LTJ Bukem, Golide and Roni Size. It also regularly turns the spotlight on local talent and hosts a weekly indie night known as Beat!. Whether you’re just into listening from the outdoor seats or working up a sweat at the feet of some of dance music’s most happening jocks, the laid-back, pretense-free vibe will ensure you’ll feel at home at Home.
Home: 20 Upper Circular Rd, #B1-01/06, The Riverwalk, Singapore 058416; tel. +65 6538 2928; www.homeclub.com.sg
Best Latin beats: Movida
The electricity at Singapore’s first coal-fired power station no longer comes from blast furnaces -- it comes from the beats blasting out of speakers at the 10 separate venues that comprise the St. James Power Station. At Movida, one of these venues, the sparks fly from the dynamo that is Banda Morena, an eight-piece band from Paraguay fronted by two “morenas,” (Spanish for seductive raven-haired beauties). The group takes the stage from 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday nights and plays well into the morning. It’s a good thing that all you really need to do to dance to Latin rhythms is gyrate your hips, because by midnight, the dance floor is so packed you can barely move anything else.
Movida: St. James Power Station, 3 Sentosa Gateway #01-01, Singapore 098544; tel. +65 6270 7676; www.stjamespowerstation.com
Michael submitted this piece as part of CNNGo’s CityPulse section. To find out what other stories we are looking for, go to our CityPulse page.