Zouk At Jiak Kim Street: A Timeline Of A Night Out. If You Know, You Know

Zouk at Jiak Kim Street

One month, three weeks and four days. That’s how long we lived through the Circuit Breaker back in 2020. And during that timespan, I, like many others, missed the feeling of many experiences. The taste of fresh-out-the-oven McDonald’s fries, the adrenaline of exploring a foreign country for the first time, the comfort of a hug – the list goes on.

But a random “Eh, I miss clubbing” Telegram message from a friend really set off a wave of nostalgia for me – especially for the homeground of every 90s-born clubber: Zouk at Jiak Kim Street. Even though we’ve adjusted to “the new normal” with eased restrictions, dancefloors and live DJ sets are still put on pause indefinitely, which only leaves us with fond memories of better nights – or what we do remember of them at least.

If you’ve ever reminisced about what weekend nights were like pre-Covid, here’s a walk – or an intoxicated stumble rather – down what memory lane was like for me, and perhaps for you too.

10.30PM: Wine Bar 1-for-1 & getting entry

Uncle, Zouk please!”, I tell the taxi driver as I hop in. “Oh, jook ah. Wah crubbing tonight ah boy”, he retorts as I chuckle internally. It’s not the first time I’ve heard those mispronounced words – many others in their 20s also call 17 Jiak Kim Street jook. It’s practically an unofficial Singlish term.

It’s another Friday night. Which means chucking away school assignments or muting work chats for the weekend. Or in my case, booking out of my army camp, forgetting worries of the week with some booze, and letting down whatever NS-approved hair I had.

The outdoor parking area outside Zouk where the longkang becomes a vomit convention after midnight
Image credit: @geniemule

On other nights, I’d squeeze in the back of my friend’s Toyota with 3 other friends and valet park before getting “chopped’ for entry. But not tonight. It’s a poly friend’s birthday, and with everyone down to get high, there’s no designated driver. Which is fine too, since my cab driver is rushing to my destination with a speed that could rival Vin Diesel in those movies.

Not even 11PM and already crowded…as usual.
Image credit: @_wolf69

Upon turning into the driveway, I message my party pals to see where they are before alighting because let’s face it – being seen alone at 21 years old is very loser leh. I make a beeline for the Wine Bar bartender, and I’m relieved to find my familiar faces huddled in the corner. What good is a 1-for-1 drinks promotion without friends to share them with anyway? 

Shots-shots-sh-sh-shots! Even better when they’re 1-for-1.
Image credit: Bryan Yeong

With the sounds of a soccer game from wall-stuck TV screens and music blasting from the speakers, we leave Wine Bar to get our customary stamps on our wrists for Zouk entry later. The night has just begun.

11PM: Cheap drinks at Holiday Inn Atrium & 5-10 at the bridge

Image credit: SM Liquor Enterprise

Even though it’s a friend’s birthday, we’re not ballers and we’d rather save expensive Zouk drinks for later when we’d really “need” them, so it’s off to Holiday Inn Atrium for Round 2 of pre-drinks first.

Any budget-constricted partygoer knows about Holiday Inn Atrium and the cheap alcohol they have on sale. Rumour has it that they’re fake, or at least tampered with. But when you can get a bottle of Jäger, Red Bull mixes, bags of ice and paper cups for $50-60, which works out to just ~$10 each among a group of friends, who cares?

Same situation, different weekend.
Image credit: Bryan Yeong

We buy 2 bottles of booze and head to Robertson Bridge since Jiak Kim Bridge is packed like sardines. Works out, since another group of friends are drinking there anyway and we can probably sit in a larger circle to make new friends and play rounds of 5-10 or “I Have Never” to get drunk even faster. 

Image credit: Bryan Yeong

Everything plays out like clockwork since clubbing is practically a weekly affair as of late. And by 11.30PM, I’m already feeling the effects of my drinks, or as my friend calls it, “magic water”. 

12.30AM: Finding the freaking toilet

Midnight strikes and nature calls – 2 indicators that we’re bound for the club soon. I’m going to pee first! I declare to my group and some of them join me to locate the nearest toilet. 

I’ve seen other reckless youths pee in the bushes at more secluded alleyways around the area just because a toilet is hard to come by around here, but I feel bad for the shop owners and residents that dog-walk. 

Can you imagine if they started hiring cleaners to spray water on the bridge to chase us away, or worst: implement a public alcohol consumption curfew of like, 10.30PM? That’d be a nightmare.

1AM: Finally entering the club & squeezing through the walkway

After stumbling back to our drinking spot and relieving our bladders, it’s time for the real fun. I clean off the Jägerbomb in my plastic cup not wanting to waste a single drip, and I’m ready. 

I’m just the right level of tipsy, and with friends in tow, we make our zig-zaggy walk back to the club. The birthday boy is clearly raring to go. Tonight got guest DJ eh. Faster walk!”, he shouts at us. There are throngs of other clubbers heading in too, and the last thing we’d want is to waste minutes queuing to get in.

Imagine this exact narrow walkway, filled with a crowd to navigate through.
Image credit:

Thankfully, a friend knows the bouncer because she’s a regular on Ladies Night and he lets us skip the queue to go right in. Woo, perks! Now here’s the challenge: getting onto the main dance floor when the walkway is filled shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers. No problem. The “hand-holding method” always works.

Like a conga line except that we’re attached just by our palms, we squeeze through the crowd in-between apologetic shouts of “excuse me!”. Sure, some might tsk us, but it’s better than being held up and missing the DJ set right? Even if some of us break the chain, everyone knows to just meet at the space before the steps to the bars anyway.

Meeting point for lost friends.
Image credit:

We finally make it to the main room dancefloor still on a high from the drinks at the bridge. It helps that the DJ is playing all the trashy Top 40 hits we love like David Guetta & Sia’s “Titanium” and Swedish House Mafia’s “Save The World”. But it’s Avicii’s “Levels” that really gets the crowd going, jumping and throwing our hands up in unison amidst strobe lights and smoke machines. 

And in this very moment, in our impenetrable dance circle, nothing else matters.

Taken with an iPhone 4
Image credit: deliciali

2AM: Shuffling between main room, Phuture & Velvet

Zouk is where euphoric moments are born, but it can also be a cesspit of guys looking to score with chicks and/or looking for a fight. We want to deal with neither of those situations tonight, so our desire to stay on the main room’s dancefloor starts to diminish the more crowded it gets.

Toilet break pit stop at the Zouk Jiak Kim infamous fountain sink
Image credit: @team__mambo

It’s about time to leave the dancefloor too, since we need another – hopefully final – round of drinks to fuel us up for the rest of the night. What I’ve come to learn is that drinking isn’t a sprint, but a marathon. The last thing you’d want is to get too drunk even before the night begins – that’d be a colossal waste of time, money and memories.

It’s already 2AM by the way; time to go big, or go home. We order a round of Long Island Iced Tea jugs, gulp them down and make our way over to Phuture for some hip-hop jams. 

A round of long island iced tea jugs for round…3?
Image credit: OpenRice

Bad idea. What greets us is a sea of caps and botak heads – it seemed like many others also booked out and had the same idea as my friends and I to celebrate TGIF here, and unofficial congregation grounds were at Phuture. 

Velvet Underground: home to Poptart nights.
Image credit: @valerietlk

Wanting more room where we can dance freely without concern if we’re about to knock into someone else, our plans change for the umpteeth time as we trail over to Velvet Underground instead. 

Home to the monthly “hipster” night Poptart where indie-alternative hits are favoured over EDM bangers, Velvet Underground is where we finally decide to stay put. The Strokes’ “Last Nite”, MGMT’s “Kids” and The Naked + Famous’ “Young Blood” religiously play on the speakers every time, but their appeal never gets tiring – this is probably the 4th or 5th Poptart I’ve been to by now. 

There’s none of the fist-pumping or hair-twirling dance moves you’d see at the main room either. Here, we shuffle side to side in Vans sneakers, play air guitars and head bang as if we’re at a live gig instead. 

3.30AM: Smoke break + bangers and mash

$5.50 bangers and mash – an iconic part of the Zouk Jiak Kim experience.
Image credit: foursquare

Before we know it, it’s 3.30AM and the birthday boy needs a smoke break. I yell over the music for the group to head outside, as we stumble out of the still-thriving dance party, faces red from a mix of the alcohol earlier and pulling shapes on the dancefloor for an hour. I even muster enough sobriety to pick up a free copy of Juice magazine on the way out – who knows, I might spot my friends and I featured in one of the crowd photos from one of the previous party nights.

Ironically, outside the club is equally crowded. The smell of cigarettes and hotdogs from the food cart waft through the air – the latter the culprit of the snaking queue at the stand. It’s a must to order the bangers and mash each time we club – not just to soak up the alcohol and sober us up, but just from how it always quells random wee-morning hunger pangs. 

I get two cups to go around my friends and I. Birthday boy looks like he especially needs some food in his system since he’s slurring gibberish and his Asian flush is at an all-time high. Uh oh. Dude’s drunk AF.

4AM: Taking care of the puking birthday boy

Ain’t a party until someone pukes into the longkang outside Zouk Jiak Kim
Image credit: Bryan Yeong

Bad idea… Part 2. One mouthful of mash and a piece of sausage and they come hurtling out of the birthday boy, along with his dinner too. “Anyone got water!? Anyone got tissue!?”, my friends and I shout in between exclamations of disgust and amusement. 

People are staring, so we drag our friend to the aforementioned longkang to finish his deed of throwing up. It seems like the night is abruptly over – for him at least – and we flag one of the many ComfortDelgro cabs lined up along Jiak Kim Street to send him home. It’s a challenge to get a cab after the closing song plays, so thank god we left in the nick of time.

4:30AM: Spize or BK Eating House?

Image credit: Bryan Yeong

Birthday Boy might be in a cab home, but the rest of us don’t want the night to end just yet. Which then presents us with a dilemma: where should we go for supper? The options are usually just the 2 standard ones – BK Eating House or Spize at River Valley for maggi goreng pattaya and iced milo. 

We’re craving for some bak chor mee, so BK it is, and we hop into another cab ready to fill our tummies up before our overdued bedtime. 

Supper is when we also inevitably summarise the night’s events, from reviewing what songs we loved hearing to the hilarity of our drunk friend spewing out sausage chunks on himself, no stone gets left unturned. 

6AM: Finally home

It’s close to sunrise, and even though I don’t have a curfew, I just know my parents will kill me if they know just how late I’m staying out. My friends and I say our goodbyes for the week as we each get into separate taxis headed for our respective homes – but not before we make drinking plans again for next week; same time, same place.

Image credit: Bryan Yeong

Whatever post-clubbing adrenaline I had earlier is long gone, and I crawl down to the floor the moment I enter my home from sheer exhaustion – Juice magazine and 2%-battery-life phone in tow. After all, I had woken up at 6AM to report in camp the day before which means I had been awake for… 24 hours. 

I eventually force myself up off my floor after a 5 minute nap to shower and finally hit the hay for a well-deserved sleep. Tomorrow’s day will most likely start past lunch, but for the fun I had tonight, it was well worth it. And you know what? I can’t wait to do it all over again next week.

A night out at Zouk at Jiak Kim Street

Zouk Jiak Kim Street
Image credit: Bryan Yeong

I can still distinctly remember the Friday and Saturday nights out at Zouk at Jiak Kim Street like it’s 2012 – and I’m sure many others would too. But ever since the club shifted to Clarke Quay and my friends and I grew out of the partying phase, those nights have become nothing but fond memories for us to reminisce about. 

With the COVID-19 situation shuttering clubs and imposing a 10.30PM alcohol ban at bars for what seems like the whole of 2020 so far, TGIFs and weekends are now spent having chill, small-knit house parties or at beach clubs instead.

We can only hope that restrictions will be eased soon, and if and when they do, who knows? I just might make a one-off visit back to the clubs – now as an almost-30 year old. But I guess just like how Poptart’s mantra over the years also serves as a reminder about growing up – we should never lose that feeling.

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Cover image adapted from (L-R): Undercover Boss, @j.a.l_the_food_inc, Bryan Yeong
Originally published on 2nd October 2020. Last updated by Renae Cheng on 7th July.

Bryan Christopher Yeong

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