The Singapore dance scene#44 exemplified by Zouk

The Singapore dance scene#44 exemplified by Zouk

The Singapore outdoor dance festival, ZoukOut, was its usual triumphant success at the end of 2013. The two-day event, which runs annually on Sentosa Beach, has been attracting crowds of enthusiastic revelers for many years.

Zouk has been instrumental in introducing a whole new audience to house music. Amongst the numerous and often bewildering sub-genres of dance culture, house was not widely appreciated in Singapore. What the original wave of DJ's did was to blend house music with more recognizable chart hits from the 1970s and 1980s during a ‘retro' themed night at the Zouk club every Wednesday. This quickly took off, and once the Zouk DJ's had their audience's attention, they began throwing in all sorts of dance variations.

Less of a club and more of a phenomenon, Zouk itself is actually comprised of three houses, as well as the world-renowned beach party. The three clubs are actually interconnected. Zouk, the 'elder statesman' of the trio, has been welcoming clubbers since 1991. It is known for its vast dancefloor and state of the art sound and lights system. For those wanting a less frenetic atmosphere, the Velvet Underground has been catering for chilled-out partygoers since 1994. This is held in a lounge, playing quieter and more laid-back soul music. The third house is future, which has been providing more specialized and avant-garde rhythms since 1996, noticeably trip-hop and broken beats.

Named after the Creole word for party, Zouk has won the Singapore Tourist Board ‘Best Nightspot Experience' award no fewer than six times between 1997 and 2007. As well as this accolade, the highly influential DJ Magazine voted Zouk the club as tenth on a global top-100 three times: in 2006, 2007 and then again in 2010.

But it is the ZukOut beach party that has really been attracting attention. Tens of thousands of enthusiastic partygoers gather at Senotosa Beach to relish the unforgettable atmosphere. Held every year in Singapore since 2000, ZoukOut is one of the largest festivals of its kind on the continent. The range of prestigious DJ's who have performed here include some of the biggest names doing the circuit: Masters at Work, Richie Hawkin, Sven Vath, Peter Kruder, Paul Van Dyck, James Lavelle and the English club legends Stereo MC's. The biggest crowd that the event has attracted has been 2008's phenomenal record of 26,000.

During 2010's Grand Prix season, Zouk ran a special event to commemorate the racing competition, featuring two of the current hottest DJ's, the Canadian Tiga, and the Frenchman Martin Solveig.

Thank goodness riots are rare in Singapore

Thank goodness riots are rare in Singapore

Police recently arrested 27 suspects after street violence broke out in Singapore. The trouble started after a 33-year-old Indian man was fatally struck by a bus in a district known as Little India. Following this unfortunate accident, several hundred migrant workers took to the streets, targeting their anger at the local police. Railings were thrown, and police cars and an ambulance were set alight. By the time the rioting was brought under control some 18 people had been injured, most of them Singapore police officers.

One reason why this outbreak of violence has made such big headlines in Singapore is due to its very unexpected nature. It is no exaggeration to say that a riot in Singapore's bustling streets is practically unheard of. According to police commissioner Ng Joo Hee, the spontaneous rioting was the first he had ever encountered after more than 30 years service in Singapore. Tellingly, he concluded that resorting to violence against uniformed officers was “not the Singapore way”.

The fact is, a combination of strict government and a law-abiding ethos amongst its citizens means that public disorder is virtually unknown here. However, the incident has highlighted a potential flashpoint. Singapore relies heavily on foreign workers, especially in sectors such as the construction industry. Little India is known for its high concentration of migrant labourers. At evenings and weekends they congregate in this part of the city to browse through the shops, socialize, and also refresh themselves with alcohol – occasionally to excess.

But a trip into Little India the day after the riot gives a good idea of how incongruous the incident was. The prevailing mood is one of calm, with tourists having flocked back to the many cafes and restaurants. More to the point, the Indian construction workers are dutifully returning to their many building sites to continue with their hard graft.

At the initial signs of unrest, many local shopkeepers pulled down their shutters. One restaurant employee stated: “We shut the restaurant and stayed inside with the guests – they were scared and didn't leave till around eleven o' clock”.

While the rioting itself was the first that Singaporeans have experienced in decades, the potential for problems caused by large volatile crowds and excessive alcohol are perhaps easier to predict. The local authorities will continue liaising with the police on the ground, as well as touching base with the Indian High Commission. Things appear to have returned to normal extremely quickly.

Singapore Investing

Singapore Investing

Singapore Investing in Myanmar

People are always in need of taking a break from their day jobs and spend thousands on holidays abroad for some rest and relaxation. Holiday makers also have a greater range of choice with flights these days as companies like EasyJet and RyanAir have raided the market driving prices down for everyone. Investing in new hotels is always an appealing proposition to would-be investors therefore. And now the government in Singapore has revealed that a group of Singaporean investors have the intention to build a range of first-class hotels in Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan.

George Yeo, vice-chairman of Wilmar Investment Holding Pte, is heading this group of investors and has held discussions with Soe Thein (Myanmar Investment Commission) about their goals. The hot topic was concerning their desire to invest in the three areas in Myanmar which are unable to meet demand for hotel rooms from people coming in from overseas. When there is so much demand for a place to stay it seems inevitable that someone will stump up the cash with prospect of even bigger returns.

Dr Kan Zaw who is minister of National Planning and Economic Development and knows all there is to know about planning regulations in the country has stressed that foreign investors are welcome to spend big in building these new hotels, either as individuals or with business partners. However, any plans that will be drawn up must meet the guidelines set forth by the respective state's city development department.

The business delegation also had some tentative words about the potential of a number of factories and refineries which would be a great boost to the agricultural sector. Singapore is investing heavily into Myanmar and has been rated as the sixth-largest investor in the region. Currently the total spend stands at US$1.8 billion, according to MIC.

Population Boom

Population Boom

Singapore Population Boom

Population is a global news obsession. This is particularly true considering the level of growth both in terms of numbers and wealth seen across South East Asia. China is one country that has encouraged legislation to control the high levels of new-borns with a one-child policy, but Singapore is going in the opposite direction and trying to add some incentives to get its flagging birth rate up.

New research has suggested this enterprise could have a dramatic effect on the population and cause numbers to surge in the next 20 years – rising to 7 million people. The current figure stands at five million people.

DBS Vickers conducted the research and released a statement saying that the national populace is rising at a quicker rate than had been expected. They have gone as far as to suggest that current figures could jump up 32 per cent by the year 2030.

DBS Vickers is a specialist in equity research and they have made these predictions in a document evaluating population size for listed companies who are likely to profit from a much larger consumer base.

This is an important topical issue in parliament and Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng wants the government to act decisively. Many new measures are on the verge of coming into effect, such as providing money and support to new parents. But there are other less obvious policies like the encouragement of offices to become more child-friendly so mothers do not have to leave work.

Singapore has a comparatively low fertility rate compared to its neighbours which stands at 1.29 babies born per woman in 2007. This is below the 2.1 rate that government figures suggest the city-state needs to replace itself naturally.

Married Singaporeans already have privileges available to them if they choose to have a child but this has been unsuccessful in filling maternity wards in this wealthy city-state.