Survival Of Singapore’s Night Scene

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Get behind the scenes of operating a night club in Singapore to understand what’s at stake.

This WED WEB CHAT — Dark Is The Night Scene talks to Dennis Foo,a Singapore nightlife business veteran who has opened 50 outlets over 4 decades, Robbie Hoyes-Cock, CEO & Founder of The Podium Lounge which brings the glamour to the races here and in Melbourne, Monaco and Abu Dhabi, and Chua Ee Chien, owner of cocktail bar Jekyll & Hyde, and a member of the Pivoting Committee of the Singapore Nightlife Business Association.

The Talent Drain

Are we breaking down what we’ve taken decades to build up?

Singapore’s sparkling entertainment industry is one of the finest in the world, reckons Robbie Hoyes-Cock, but the severe measures imposed as a result of COVID-19 could see that vanish. 

As nightclubs wait for a green light to proceed, the talent — many of whom are expatriates — are forced to head home for various reasons, ranging from expiring employment passes, high cost of living or businesses folding. 

Who’s left behind to carry on when things start up again?

Will the drying up of tourism — the Hong Kong travel bubble burst very quickly — mark the erosion of Singapore’s nightclub scene?

Good, Bad & Ugly Landlords

A good working relationship with the landlord could help to keep businesses viable, says Chua Ee Chien, owner of cocktail bar Jekyll & Hyde.

Ee Chien is also a member of the Pivoting Committee of the Singapore Nightlife Business Association, which is helping its members repurpose their businesses temporarily to cope with the sudden cessation of activities due to the pandemic.

Many bars have pivoted to provide food, which helps to keep the operations running. But bars in the business district will be challenged as work from home rules still apply and Phase 2 is still holding firm. 

High Cost Of Nightlife Will Save The Day

Dennis Foo’s history in the industry dates back to the 1980s when the industry was in its infancy. He talks about the history of the scene and how its evolution may help it survive the pandemic.

The distinction between bars and restaurants began to blur as the audience grew, and smoking was banned first in restaurants, then followed by the bars.

To make the most of the high cost of rental, bars started serving food, which provided a new business opportunity to draw upon, and which may have saved some businesses during the pandemic, allowing them to pivot and continue in business.

Watch the full discussion below.

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