In Tanjong Pagar for the World: Why Kilo Lounge is the Yale-NUS of Clubs
story | Michael Sagna, Contributing Reporter
photo | Michael Sagna
As I found myself speaking to a random Parisian in the bathroom of the club, I realized that there was something eerily familiar about the interaction. The conversation started with a simple “Where are you from?”, and quickly moved onto shockingly profound discussions of race, origin, and ethnicity. As Yale-NUS College students, we are repeatedly told that our college is a bubble, and that we will have a harsh awakening when we “go out into the real world”, and yet to me, Kilo felt like an extension of the College.
To those of you who have been at Yale-NUS for more than a week, this name will likely ring a bell, and evoke memories of hazy nights when the workload was lighter, and when times were better. It has, from what I’ve understood, become somewhat of a quintessential clubbing experience for Yale-NUS students. I was hesitant to try it out when I first heard of it due to the protests of Singaporeans describing it as overpriced and seething with expats. Nevertheless, I gave the pretentiously named ‘lounge’ a chance, and I don’t think I’ll ever look back.
Push through the non-existent queue, walk down an eerily lit corridor, and you will be greeted by the main floor. The concrete-filled, industrial interior almost makes you forget that you are in Singapore, more reminiscent of clubs in Berlin or Budapest than to those on the same road. While the club is small, it makes use of its space well, with a rectangular dance floor in the center flanked by intimate seating areas. At the back of the club is a long bar, with more than enough well-dressed bartenders waiting attentively for your order.
If Kilo is the Yale-NUS of clubs, it is only fitting that its bar is the Sodexo of drinks providers. Although the cocktails are cleverly named, they seem overpriced and understocked (there is no point in having a drink called “The OJ Simpson” taking up space on the menu if you can’t try it). If you eventually do manage, however, to find a drink on the menu which hasn’t run out, the chances are it will cost over $20 and the cocktail equivalent of Sodexo’s sloppy kailan – nothing but a glorified shot bathing in a sad pool of half-melted ice.
It is therefore safe to say that this is a club which you should reserve for its music. I had the coincidental pleasure of attending on the same night that Joshua P., a Singaporean DJ, was playing, and for those of us in the group who enjoy electronic music, from the moment he started, the night melted away. Any question of leaving for anywhere else was abruptly made ridiculous, as we left lyrics in the past and looked forward to the DJ’s visionary and effortless fusion of genres. The intensity of this experience was only amplified by the artful use of lighting which, in the middle of the dance floor, could have comprised its own experience. Lasers rained down on us, perfectly synced with the thunder that the DJ so kindly provided.
To ask a clichéd, but very real question: what is good music without good people to share it with? The crowd a club attracts can tell you more about the place than you will ever be able to learn by visiting in one night. Kilo seems to rival Yale-NUS’s diversity statistics, attracting a cool mix of internationals and Singaporeans, as well as a sizeable group of visibly queer people. Most shocking to me was the fact that the club seemed to host the largest group of black people I have ever seen in one place in Singapore.
And while there are groups of the more archetypal expats, they are in general more friendly and less static than those which would be found in Singapore’s larger clubs. This fascinating mix of people makes for the most interesting conversations in the club’s gender inclusive bathroom, and you really get the sense that you’re fostering relationships that will last as long as your Tuition Grant.
Add free entry before midnight to all of this and suddenly you have a club with a winning formula. It’s not hard to see why Yale-NUS students keep going back: Kilo keeps clubbing simple. The music made for a quasi-transcendental experience, and the club has an undeniable appeal which can only be described as ungraded semester energy. And while the club’s website describes itself as ‘the ultimate living room’, to me it feels like the fourth common lounge. I will most definitely be returning, and hope to finally try the OJ Simpson.
The views expressed here are the author’s own. The Octant welcomes all voices in the community. Email submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.