By now, we are no stranger to the madness surrounding the Singapore Formula 1 weekend. Friday will herald a crazy three-day event of bustling activities, exhilarating gigs and euphoric parties, but one of the most anticipated events on the race calendar has got to be roving party Amber Lounge. This ultra-luxe event is the most sought-after VIP playground, where celebrities and F1 drivers rub shoulders while watching exclusive musical performances and a fashion show. It is there where bottles upon bottles of bubbly get uncorked. It is there where big names let their hair down as the lights go down (and apparently, dance on couches).
The woman behind this super-glamorous party is Sonia Irvine. The sister of retired driver Eddie Irvine, she was his personal physiotherapist before she became the physiotherapist of the entire Ferrari team. She went on to launch Amber Lounge at the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix and the rest as they say, is history. We chat with her to find out what goes on behind this glitzy shindig. According to her, it’s nothing short of mayhem!
What was the craziest thing that happened during an after-party here?
There’s always something crazy happening at our Amber Lounge parties. The night is fueled with iconic live acts, DJs and the champagne is ALWAYS flowing. This combination continuously supplies us with wild stories!!! One year one of the F1 drivers, who I can’t name of course, had such an amazing night that he had to be wheeled out of Amber Lounge in a wheelchair. We put a towel over his head so no one could recognise him.
Share with us something we don’t know about race car drivers. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learnt?
To be honest, I still continue to learn new things about the drivers every time I go to the F1. Their determination and commitment to the sport is something that definitely needs to be credited. It’s amazing the passion drivers have towards it, even when the going gets tough, they continue to be positive role models to the younger generation. The most surprising thing is how resilient they are and how strong their characters are. They deal with huge media pressure, being in the spotlight, amazing highs when they win and terrible disappointments when they don’t win. You have to be thick-skinned as an F1 driver.
What’s your secret behind getting big names to attend your after parties?
At the time, when I created the first Amber Lounge parties, I wasn’t thinking about that. I wanted to create a place where the F1 fraternity could enjoy themselves after the Grand Prix weekend. Having big names attend means that they have appreciated the work and dedication we have put into Amber Lounge being the ultimate F1 after party. I guess word spread quickly that Amber Lounge was the place to be during a Grand Prix weekend and the celebrities just started coming.
Which driver knows how to party hard?
Almost all of them are Amber Lounge party lovers and celebrate with us at all our events. We’ve had drivers celebrating winning the world title with us and creating some of the best atmospheres you can get at a party. There are a few that love to dance on the couches, but again I can’t name names.
What was the most difficult request you’ve received from a guest?
There’s a lot of pressure involved and there can always be difficult aspects when it comes to organising events. Sometimes we have requests for tables in a special position, for example a large group may want their tables to be positioned on the dance floor and we may already be sold out for these — it can be a little be challenging to explain this to the guests sometimes!
My tactic is to approach anything with a positive attitude and make the request happen quickly. With the amazing team I have around me, it is easy to manage and deal with slightly more challenging situations. When I broke my foot at Amber Lounge in Monaco this year and continued to work throughout the night, it seemed like every request was difficult as I was in so much pain. But I just kept going and only headed to the hospital after everything was done.
What was the most humorous thing you’ve encountered while planning a party at Amber Lounge?
We’ve certainly had a lot of laughs over the years, from crazy things happening or just interesting personalities coming to party with us. There were a couple of times I found myself wondering what had happened to the music in the club all of a sudden, and I would start asking my team. Then we’d all discover that there’s a surprise DJ on the decks — an F1 driver or a World Champion performing a gig! These are great moments of happy laughter. There is never a dull moment at Amber Lounge, even when planning it!
What are some little-known things that happen at your parties?
Most of the things that happen at our parties are little-known and we like to keep it that way. Amber Lounge is famous for being a party haven for F1 drivers, celebrities and royalty to let their hair down away from the glare of the media. No cameras or media are allowed inside the club on Sundays in Singapore, and media can only attend the Fashion Show in Monaco.