Twelve years on, music fans tell Life! that Singapore's annual dance music festival ZoukOut still remains one of the biggest outdoor clubbing events in the region, and is as relevant as it was a decade ago.

They say its long-lasting appeal lies in the fact that the festival is still able to pull in big name international DJ acts and provide an atmosphere that is fun and vibrant.


Partygoers says hot acts such as Above And Beyond are among the reasons ZoukOut stays relevant. -- ST PHOTOS: TED CHEN, NG SOR LUAN

Lawyer Ranjan Indiran, 31, who has attended seven instalments of ZoukOut in the past 12 years, said: "The fact that it's going strong and big names are coming, and prices of tickets are up - last time one ticket was $38 and $45 at the door, now it's $98 and $108 at the door - and the event runs over two days, shows the demand is still there."

Show producer Douglas Khee, 35, has been to every single ZoukOut since the inaugural one in 2000 and says the event gets better every year.

"The thing that makes ZoukOut still exciting is that the organisers are always in tune with the times, so they always bring in the acts that are hot at the moment. I loved the set by newer names such as Nina Kraviz but I also like the fact that they still bring in veterans such as Paul Van Dyk."

Kraviz is a Russian DJ known for her minimal house and techno mixes, while Van Dyk is a seasoned Grammy-nominated trance DJ who has been voted world No. 1 DJ twice by British music magazine DJ Mag.

Indeed, the turnout for the event - where the majority of the crowd is made up of clubgoers in their 20s and 30s - has grown over the years.

In 2000, 11,000 people attended the first ZoukOut. Last weekend, 40,000 people attended the two-day fest at Sentosa's Siloso Beach, catching more than 20 DJ acts including Scottish DJ Calvin Harris, German trance DJ Van Dyk, dancehall-electro act Major Lazer and American dubstep and house DJ Kaskade.

Launched 12 years ago as Singapore's first outdoor dance music festival, ZoukOut has been held at Sentosa and Marina Bay Waterfront.

Previous instalments have seen big-name DJ acts such as Dutch DJ and producer Tiesto, British superstar DJ Dave Seaman and French world No. 1 DJ David Guetta perform.

Usually a one-night festival, it attracts thousands of partygoers who rock out from dusk till dawn. This year was the first time since 2003 that the festival was held over two nights.

Zouk said it decided to extend the festival over two days to "provide more value-add to attendees, both tourists and locals".

First-timers to ZoukOut were also impressed by the event and shared their good experience with Life!.

Full-time national serviceman with the air force, Mr Jeremiah Gonzago, 20, said: "I thought it was worth it, it was pretty fun, the people were friendly and I made friends too. I liked that they split the stages so there were two to three acts playing at the same time. It was good overall."

He added: "I'd consider going for ZoukOut again but it would depend on who they bring in as the headliners."


Partygoers says hot acts such as Above And Beyond (above) are among the reasons ZoukOut stays relevant. -- ST PHOTOS: TED CHEN, NG SOR LUAN

Hardcore partygoers also say that ZoukOut stands up to other dance festivals overseas.

Malaysian clubber Amar Othman, 23, partied at ZoukOut on Friday and rushed off the next morning to attend the Heineken Thirst dance festival at Sepang International Circuit, Selangor, on Saturday night.

"I had a lot more fun at ZoukOut," says the swimming coach. "Having it at the beach made it pretty awesome and I felt that the crowd gave off better vibes."

Nanyang Technological University exchange student Connor Docherty from Scotland says that while he has gripes about the drinks being more expensive that at the music festivals back home, the atmosphere at ZoukOut more than made up for it.

The 20-year-old adds: "I think ZoukOut is one of the most well-organised festivals that I have been to. From the bars and the toilets to the entrance and exit, everything was easily within reach."

Of course, ZoukOut is not without its bugbears.

Perennial problems such as getting to and leaving Sentosa island, battling snaking queues at the toilets and for food and beverage still remain the top grouses for revellers.

Nanyang Technological University final-year student Anjali Raguraman, 23, who attended ZoukOut on both nights and enjoyed this year's line-up, said: "I guess the other issue is really sorting out logistics for ZoukOut for both nights, getting on and off the island easily. I had to leave earlier than I wanted to because I didn't want to fight with everyone else."

Some partygoers such as National University of Singapore undergraduate Claudio Chock prefers having the party on just one night.

The 24-year-old, who has been to every single ZoukOut since 2008 and has also attended several dance festivals in Amsterdam and Berlin, says that clubbers should be able to catch all the acts in one night rather than have them spread out over two nights.

"I know some people don't like the fact that the last few ZoukOuts were a little too packed because all the acts played on a single night, but I think the atmosphere is better when the crowd is large. There's a lot less space to dance but the atmosphere is crazier and more fun."

This article was first published in The Straits Times newspaper on December 11, 2012. For similar stories, go
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