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Old 12th April 2011, 10:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Raising a glass to 20 years of Zouk

Raising a glass to 20 years of Zouk



Popularity for his music of choice, soulful house, isn't what it used to be, says founder Lincoln Cheng. But that doesn't mean that the party stops there.

By Jill Alphonso
Tue, Apr 12, 2011
my paper


ZOUK founder and director Lincoln Cheng rocks up to the Jiak Kim Street club at 7.30pm on a recent Wednesday night - a Mambo Jambo night.

It's the start of his working day - sort of. He's already had a meeting or two, and he's panting slightly after running from his car to the club's meeting room to make it in time for this interview.

The 63-year-old sits down and is served a glass of Coca-Cola (nothing alcoholic until later, please). He begins to talk about Zouk turning 20.

The club (which recently made it to No. 9 on DJ Magazine's Top 100 Clubs list) packs in some 7,000 clubbers every weekend.

In its 20 years, the club has survived drug raids and even a drowning at ZoukOut in its first year.

Now, it faces criticism that it's failing its mission to keep house music - real, soulful house music - alive.

my paper asks Cheng - he's married to Zouk director Adeline, who he met when she began working at Zouk in 1996 - about the anniversary, the criticism, plans for overseas expansion, and when the guy will let his only daughter, Isabel (now aged seven), begin clubbing.

You've got big plans for Zouk's 20th anniversary, which starts tomorrow. Why go all out?

The celebrations kick off with Mambo night tomorrow. On Thursday, we have Armin van Buuren, the No. 1 DJ in the world, spinning. On Friday, we'll hold an official party with free entry for members and friends. Then, on Saturday, Danny Tenaglia spins in the main room.

Zouk doesn't turn 20 every day, so we're making it a "public holiday" long weekend.

Looking back on Zouk's 20 years, what are you most proud of?

The fact that we're here 20 years later - that's the biggest achievement.

When we started up, I never thought about how long we'd last. It took three years to turn a profit, and we had an initial nine-year lease for the venue.

I didn't think beyond that.

What do you think Zouk could've done better in its 20 years?

If I had known the brand would last this long, I'd have made plans for expansion when I was younger and had more energy.

Zouk KL didn't come along until 2004 and, even then, it took a couple of years to get it right.

There was once talk about a Zouk in Bali. Is that still in the works?

Those plans fell through, but I would be very interested in opening in Bali. If I opened a place there, it would be one I could enjoy myself. I'd go there and get a tan.

Zouk faces criticism that it no longer champions house music. Yet your love for house music is the reason you opened the club. Any comments?

House music all around the world has slowed down. Big names in house, like Louie Vega, Frankie Knuckles and Joe Claussell, can't man Zouk's main room any more.

The kids don't appreciate that sort of music. They like bass, and all the computer noises, not the live music, melodies and vocals that are such a part of house music.

Zouk's main room now takes tougher, energetic house, as well as trance or electro, which seems to be the big thing now.

But that's not your music of choice.

It doesn't have to be "my" music. If the club played only music I enjoyed, it would draw only a small, niche crowd.

What's your poison? You gave up hard liquor years back...

I stick to one drink: champagne.

It has lower alcohol content, and it gives me a happy high. I drink less than a bottle a night.

You're a club owner with a young daughter. Have you thought about when you'll let Isabel go clubbing?

I don't think it'll be my choice! But if she has her head screwed on straight, I'll let her club happily. If she's rebellious and wild, I might have to tighten the leash a bit.

Would you like her first night out clubbing to be at Zouk?

Yes, I'd like her to see at least what I've done.

Isabel has seen ZoukOut videos, so she definitely has an idea of what clubbing (at Zouk) is about. She gets the vibe.

Do you think you'll ever stop clubbing?

I know one day I'll run out of energy, but I don't know when that'll be, and I don't think about it.

I have zero plans for retirement, and I don't know what activities I'll get up to then. Life will be so boring!

Lincoln's Top 3 Clubs

my paper asked Lincoln Cheng for his top three must-visit clubs around the world. Here's what he said:

PACHA, IBIZA
What: This club, opened in 1973 in Ibiza Town, is Ibiza's oldest and finest, and plays host to mega-star DJs like Guetta, Erick Morillo and the Swedish House Mafia. Expect to pay 40 to 60 euros (S$73 to S$109) for entry.

Lincoln says: "It is the club that inspired Zouk. It always attracts a beautiful crowd, and has a top music policy."

SPACE, IBIZA
What: Formerly a concert hall, this club on the Playa D'en Bossa resort is a clubbing institution once famed for its all-day parties on its Terrace. Expect to pay between 20 and 40 euros for entry.

Lincoln says: "This is a club where you can let your hair down. Music policy is superb, after Pacha."

PRECIOUS HALL, SAPPORO, JAPAN
What: This small club has made a name for itself among clubbers in the know. Expect to hear everything from New York-styled, soul-y house music to progressive house. Entry is around 3,000 yen (S$44).

Lincoln says: "The owner is fanatical about having the best sound system. The entire room and furniture are made out of wood. It is like partying inside a tree house."

Source: http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2...12-273136.html

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