End of a KL clubbing era as Zouk quits Jalan Ampang

Zouk currently averages a 15,000 weekly attendance following initial figures of 8,000 since opening in 2004. — Picture by Firdaus Latiff
Zouk currently averages a 15,000 weekly attendance following initial figures of 8,000 since opening in 2004. — Picture by Firdaus Latiff

KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — “Thanks for the memories!” — said Zouk to its Jalan Ampang residence.

This month marks the end of an era for the Malaysian landmark, with next month set to bring a new beginning for the renowned nightspot venue as it relocates to TREC lifestyle nexus.

TREC stands for “Taste, Relish, Experience and Celebrate.”

About halfway along Jalan Ampang lurking in the shadows of the Petronas Twin Towers, Zouk lies low — below street level rolling off a small mound leading away from the street.

During its 11-year stay, clubbers, tourists and feature artists flocked there in droves each in their own unique way adding to the history of a club that boomed from merely the idea of a project into a nationally acclaimed establishment.

The main room closed recently with the Phuture room set to mark the official departure on Saturday.

Notably in recent times, international sensation Hardwell brought himself to the decks last September, creating a momentous night in the process. Animals DJ Martin Garrix played just back in May, Dutch-Filipino superstar Laidback Luke starred last month, Steve Aoki played on several occasions, Afrojack played in March.

Revellers party for one last time at 'Light Out, Move Out.' — Picture by Firdaus Latiff
Revellers party for one last time at 'Light Out, Move Out.' — Picture by Firdaus Latiff

Appearances from earlier artists include Tiësto, the Black Eyed Peas and Paul van Dyk featuring in 2004, 2007 and 2011, respectively.

Following the prolific attraction of such celebrated artists, Zouk continued its careful ascent up DJ Magazine’s Top 100 Club list, currently clocking in at No 38.

It’s been no mean feat for executive director and founder of Zouk KL, Cher Ng, who described the growth of the venue as a milestone journey with humble beginnings , and they looked forward to an exciting new chapter.

Speaking prior to last Saturday’s “Zouk Out Lights Out” event (the first of two closing down parties), Ng said: “The team worked tirelessly over the years to achieve the recognition we receive today. There wasn’t any superclub when we first decided to enter the KL market, at least not in terms of size and the multi-room concept.”

Ng has been working with the Zouk brand, originally founded and still located in Singapore, since 1991. The project to bring Zouk to Kuala Lumpur began as an idea in 2002, to create Malaysia’s first superclub while looking to “maintain the benchmark of the Zouk brand”.

At an initial cost of RM16 million, doors opened in 2004 before undergoing a revamp in 2008. The club that still stands since the revamp went on create the iconic landmark that has unassumingly demanded global appreciation over the years.

With proud satisfaction Ng digressed about the club’s transcendence over the successful period, about how the club was a “runaway success” from the start.

Attendance figures averaged 8,000 people in the early stages compared with 15,000 of late, almost double, something he said they never expected”.

“We strived and aimed to be the best club in Malaysia,” said Ng.

“We focused on it, and did just that.”

Roughly 20 per cent of those frequent crowds are tourists, an accolade recognised during the Mayor’s Tourism Awards last year, receiving the Platinum Award for the Nightspot category. In addition to the aforementioned Top 100 Club list ranking, Zouk KL was endorsed by the Tourism and Culture Ministry under the NKEA programme in 2011.

For the most regular of patrons, it’s mixed emotions all round — excitement of a new dawn coupled with sentimental longing.

Local resident DJ act, Bate, made up of Wai Hong and Ethan Curzon, both aged 25, discussed the highs and heights Zouk has provided over their four-year residency at the club.

“We started at Barsonic, eventually moving into the main room where we’ve been the past two years. When EDM came to Malaysia things really took off. As artists, our sound really progressed here at Zouk. We grew up here. This was our influence.”

Curzon explained further: “It’s the surroundings I’ll miss — I don’t want to think about it! It’s quite sad. I know the backdoors and everything about the place so to think it’ll be gone and we’ll be somewhere new.”

Hong said: “We’ve made so many friends here over the years. The exposure to international artists has been good for us — it helped us out big time. It brought so many memories also; especially opening for big international DJs. Meeting Laidback Luke in June was just like a ‘whoa!’ moment for me.”

With memories in tow, Zouk is venturing to TREC with optimism and ardent anticipation.

Playing regular slots throughout the 11 years, headline locals Goldfish and Blink, aged 33 and 32, were visibly eager to promote Zouk’s latest venue a “new home.”

“To be honest Zouk isn’t just a KL landmark — it’s iconic throughout Asia,” explained Blink, actual name Lau Hoe Yin.

“In the Europe and America club scene people know Zouk and where it is. It represents Asia. We’re looking forward to the new place where we’ll be continuing our Saturday night residency.”

Alvin Teoh, who performs as Goldfish, also highlighted the transition he’s seen in his time.

“A lot of artists have passed through, so to be here for the whole 11 years has been special. There are a lot of memories but we’re more excited about the new place. The club has potential to grow more in Asia,” he said.

Zouk Club KL relocations to TREC lifestyle enclave in Jalan Tun Razak next month. The opening date is to be confirmed.