Dark Is The Night Scene — WED WEB CHAT

THE night scene in Singapore was abruptly silenced by COVID-19.

No more night clubs throbbing with music and heaving with sweaty, spirited bodies. No concerts. Disquiet on the scenic singapore Grand Prix track.

This eerie silence has given cause for concern for businesses in the nightclub and entertainment industries. 

For even as some industries are cautiously stirring to life, the nightclub scene is still kept waiting. Too many people coming together poses a risk of a fresh wave of COVID-19.

While nightlife only contributes a small percentage towards the tourism sector (which is less than 5% of Singapore’s GDP) it does have a loud presence.

How do you quantify the impact of F1 showcasing Singapore to a global audience with its sparkling night skyline, or the memorable parties at Zouk and other clubs over the decades, the concerts, music at clubs and pubs, and of course the dining scene spanning hawkers to internationally admired brands?

It could be a while before the clubs and pubs are able to turn on the lights. The light is at the end of a long tunnel.

How long can the businesses hold out for? What is the interim solution beyond government subsidies?

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This week’s WED WEB CHAT — Dark Is The Night Scene talks to three active participants in the local night scene.

Robbie Hoyes-Cock, Chua Ee Chien, Dennis Foo

Split Personalities

From crunching numbers and data to mixing and serving drinks, Chu Ee Chien lives up to the name of his cocktail bar, Jekyll & Hyde.

He acquired the business and raised its profile, all the while holding down a day job.

COVID-19 has forced him to relook at how he runs his business.

He is part of the pivoting committee of the Singapore Nightlife Business Association (SNBA), which is helping its members ride these tough times.

“Building and running a business in these times has been one of the toughest things I’ve had to do,” Ee Chien admits.

“But it’s also taught me a lot. If we can come through this together — the dark will turn to light,” he says optimistically.

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Racy Entertainment

In 2005, Robbie Hoyes-Cock launched B-Yond, a series of monthly VIP parties at unique locations in Singapore. In 2019, that exclusive concept contributed to the success of The Podium Lounge when it was launched over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. It’s a glamorous trackside, celebrity-driven event that has since spread to Melbourne, Monaco and Abu Dhabi.

It was a quiet September in 2020, when the F1 race should have been run in Singapore.

“Singapore is on the Formula 1 Grand Prix Calendar for 2021 in October,” he notes. 

“Will it actually take place next year…and will track-side events be permitted,” Robbie wonders.

Night Scene Si-Foo

Dennis Foo was dubbed the king of the night scene. For four decades he owned and operated more than 50 successful nightspots and F&B venues. He has been acknowledged for his contributions, named Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999, and conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution To Tourism by the Singapore Tourism Board in 2010.

He is the Founding President of the SNBA.

Having exited the scene prior to COVID-19 Dennis has a different view of what’s going on.

“The high costs of operating F&B here may just save the day for nightlife,” he reckons.

“Rising costs of space and manpower led to many F&B operators opening restaurants cum bars to maximise revenue. This so that they can operate lunch, dinner and after hours. 

“These venues will form the backbone of the nightlife scene post COVID-19,” Dennis explains. 

“In fact, many restaurants with good bars especially those in the suburbs are doing well during this very difficult period for many. 

“They should come out of this pandemic stronger and will be the players to watch post COVID-19, which would have reduced the field resulting in less competitors.”

Dennis Foo, Robbie Hoyes-Cock and Chua Ee Chien will discuss how the night scene can prepare for a return on Wednesday 2 December 2020, from 12:45-1:30pm.

To join the discussion, register using this link: https://zurl.co/bp1w

You can watch previous WED WEB CHAT discussions on www.storm-asia.com.

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