Secret to Zouk’s longevity? Building a strong following before club exists

·Senior Lifestyle Reporter
Zouk night club founder Lincoln Cheng, 67, at the International Music Summit. 
Zouk night club founder Lincoln Cheng, 67, at the International Music Summit. 

Amid news of Singapore nightclubs being forced to close down or go through a revamp, it seems like Zouk continues to withstand the sands of time.

What’s the secret of one of Singapore’s longest standing clubs?

Grow a strong following even before the club exists.

“It took me one year and three months to build Zouk. During that period, I was spinning my own music at a nearby club called The Warehouse on Saturday nights,” said the Zouk founder Lincoln Cheng, 67, during a group interview at the International Music Summit held at W Singapore Sentosa Cove on Thursday.

Cheng said that he developed a following during his nights at Warehouse, which he continued to grow for at least two generations after setting up Zouk. Cheng said parents played a part in passing the name of his club down to their children.

“The parents tell them, ‘Don’t go to any other club, it’s not safe. Go to Zouk, it’s safe because uncle Lincoln will look after you,’” was how Cheng described how the Zouk name passed from generation to generation.

Cheng and IMS partners hosted the summit in Singapore for the first time to conduct talks on the electronic music industry.  About 130 people attended the event, which featured speakers such as popular DJ Steve Angello from electronic dance music giant Swedish House Mafia.

The event was held just a day before Singapore’s annual two-day dance music festival, ZoukOut, set to take place on 12 and 13 December. Yahoo Singapore understands that about 50,000 people are expected, a jump from 41,000 attendees in 2013.

The popular local nightclub’s longevity did not come without challenges. Earlier this year, the club was under threat of closure after their lease was extended only until the end of 2014.

Later, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA) said Zouk would be given a three-year extension if it secures a new location by 30 June 2015.

When asked about club’s progress in looking for a new location, Cheng declined to comment on the “sensitive” topic, citing a non-disclosure agreement.

Zouk dominates electronic dance music clubs in Singapore

Other big names who attended the summit - BBC Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong, and English producer and trance DJ Paul Oakenfold said Zouk was at the top of their list in Singapore’s electronic dance music club scene. 

Pete Tong mending the decks at Woo Bar at W Singapore - Sentosa Cove after the International Music Summit.
Pete Tong mending the decks at Woo Bar at W Singapore - Sentosa Cove after the International Music Summit.

“[Cheng’s] sound system was important, his turntables were important. It was very much a refined offering. I don’t know if people in Singapore realised how refined it was... Lincoln has dominated the game in Singapore,” said Tong, 54.

DJ Pete Tong at the International Music Summit. 
DJ Pete Tong at the International Music Summit. 

Oakenfold, 51, similarly had high praise for his longtime friend: “[Cheng] has put Singapore on the map and I hope the government recognises this. I know the tourism board does, but I hope the government gives him a medal.”

 

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