Ibiza Hotels Articles

July 14, 2010

Words of Wisdom – from Lincoln Cheng, Zouk club founder

He built Zouk into a brand name revered by dance institutions far and wide. Touted across the world as one of the best clubs in the world, Zouk has been sweeping industry awards yearly, the latest one being Best Nightspot Experience 2008 by the Singapore Tourism Awards, even after 17 years in the business.
How does Zouk club founder and nightlife maven, Lincoln Cheng have fun and make tons of money at the same time? Below he shares three life lessons that have made him successful:

1. Always be the pioneer in everything that you do.
Looking back at his work career, Lincoln had always believed in being the pioneer – he decided to use steel structures for high-rise buildings in Hong Kong while everyone was still using cement, and introduced the boating lifestyle there by selling luxury yachts. In fact, he had the foresight to propose building a world-class marina on Marina South in 1983, but it was rejected by the URA. He was the leading system furniture supplier in Singapore and handled numerous turnkey projects for the government sector. He opened Abraxas, a high-end furniture shop in 1986 to introduce designer furniture here. “I’ve always liked niche markets and I like to be original, doing things that haven’t been done before,” says Lincoln sharing his life philosophy. Keeping in his innovative style, Zouk was the first club to fly in international deejays and pay them well to play out to clubbers. With major acts flying down and playing, Zouk’s brand name as a dance institution spread far and wide.

2. Do what you love.
Lincoln was a regular at legendary festivals like Summer of Love and Woodstock, as well as travelled around the world to party in uber-cool clubs like Studio 54, Paradise Garage and Hacienda in his younger days. It was during one of his yearly jaunts to party island, Ibiza, where he caught DJ Alfredo, otherwise known as the godfather of Balearic house, a new blend of dance music that was very different from the usual pop tunes played commercially back then. This new sound intrigued Lincoln’s savvy ears and he was hooked to this form of underground dance music and desired to bring it to the masses. His dream came into fruition when he came upon an abandoned warehouse at Kim Seng Road. It was exactly what he had in mind for a super club. Together with four other investors, which he eventually bought out after a few years, Lincoln sank in $10 million dollars – an unheard of sum in 1990, to build his dream vision – a club called Zouk.

3. Be a perfectionist
As a perfectionist, he lovingly restored the façade of the warehouse and gave it a white-washed Moorish design – largely influenced by the clubs in Ibiza. He also had some quirky ideas for the club. “Design-wise, I wanted clubbers to be able to see the dancefloor everywhere they stood and I installed UV lights that would make white shirts glow so that people didn’t wear their work shirts. I wanted clubbers at Zouk to make an effort to dress up when they came here!” He also spared no expense when it came to the sound system, installing only the best aural equipment for his club. To test the dance music that he intended to play at Zouk, Lincoln held house parties for his friends who were well-travelled expatriates and fashion industry people, during the one-year that the club was under construction. His parties did very well and he moved them to hotel function rooms, and eventually to Warehouse disco, a new-defunct club in River Valley. “This group was my target market for Zouk and they really enjoyed the music that I played. When the club opened in 1991, they were there every weekend, dressed up to the nines, ready to party,” says Lincoln. This group of ‘beautiful people’ made up 40 per cent of his clientele, and the remaining 60 per cent were the public. But everyone soon caught on and become devout fans, patronizing the cutting-edge club every weekend.

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