The nightlife scene may have gone dark, but that is not stopping Marquee Singapore from pulling out all the stops for its first birthday bash. Singapore’s biggest nightclub is throwing what is set to be one of Asia’s largest free virtual dance music parties on May 22.

The stellar line-up features three poster boys of the dance music world – namely American DJ Steve Aoki, Dutch DJ Nicky Romero and Moldovan DJ Andrew Rayel.

Spinning back to back from their homes and studios in a world under lockdown, the sets will be livestreamed globally via Zoom and Twitch from 9pm next Friday.

Unlike run-of-the-mill livestreams which you watch passively, partygoers will get to participate in everything from a do-it-yourself headdress challenge, in which they can win prizes and a chance to be featured during the livestream, to a toast to front-line workers. There may also be surprise appearances by various celebrities over the course of the night.

While international livestream events like American DJ Porter Robinson’s virtual dance event Secret Sky Music Festival on May 9 saw four million fans tuning in, festivals like Asian music collective 88rising’s Asia Rising Forever on May 8 – with acts such as Indonesian rapper Rich Brian and Malaysian singer Yuna – drew a comparable three million viewers.

An offshoot of the 17-year-old Marquee in New York, Marquee Singapore’s first-year anniversary comes amid a crisis in which the global nightlife industry has effectively ground to a halt. With most people stuck at home and mass gatherings banned, clubs have had to pivot to livestreams.

The anniversary party is the first major event held by the club since it suspended operations on March 13, in the wake of a government advisory that all ticketed entertainment venues with 250 participants or more had to postpone or cancel events due to the Covid-19 situation.

Best known for its indoor Ferris wheel, three-storey slides and ceiling-high LED screens, the 2,000-capacity club has had a strong run since opening its doors at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands in April last year, consistently drawing A-list acts from the dance music world such as Tiesto, Carl Cox and Above & Beyond.

Owned by United States-based Tao Group Hospitality – which has a stable of over 40 food-and-beverage and nightlife venues across the US, Australia and Singapore – the club’s international connections have given this upcoming livestream party a leg up on most others coming out of Asia.

Tao Group co-founder Noah Tepperberg, 44, tells The Straits Times in an e-mail interview: “With over 25 years in the business under our belts, we have built long-standing relationships with a lot of music entertainers and media personalities. This has enabled us to pull together a virtual event of this calibre featuring some of the biggest names in the industry.”

Tao Group declined to reveal the cost of the event.

The birthday bash kicks off Marquee Singapore’s series of virtual clubbing experiences.

Turning to livestreaming was a necessary one, says co-founder Jason Strauss, 46.

He adds: “The Covid-19 crisis has brought about an unprecedented business challenge not only for us, but also across all industries.”

From Berlin to New York, online raves and livestreams have become the new normal.

VIEW IT / MARQUEE 1ST ANNIVERSARY

WHEN: May 22, 9pm to 1am

WHERE: Performances can be viewed via Zoom (tinyurl.com/MarqueeSingapore) or Twitch(twitch.tv/MarqueeSingapore).
Users will need to sign up for a Zoom account to log in and view the performance. For Twitch, no account is required unless users want to activate the live-chat function.

PRICE: Free

INFO: marqueesingapore.com or @marqueesingapore on Facebook and Instagram

On the local front, mega clubs like Zouk in Clarke Quay have been doing five livestreams a week via Facebook, while smaller outfit Nineteen80 in Tanjong Pagar does weekly streams via Twitch. Both feature their resident DJs, with Zouk bringing in the occasional guest like Singapore-based Myrne or duo Rave Republic.

Marquee Singapore is getting in on the act as well with its Marquee One Live weekly virtual clubbing series that will kick off on May 29.

It will be headlined by top DJs including Dash Berlin, Dannic, MaRLo, Blasterjaxx and Paul Van Dyk, who will take turns to spin every weekend.

“We are really hoping that we will be able to open our doors once the Government tells us it is safe to do so, but meanwhile, we will continue to bring our community together through a series of online content and events,” says Mr Strauss.

Anniversary headliners Aoki, Romero and Rayel, all of whom have played at Marquee Singapore in the past year, are no strangers to spinning to virtual audiences.

Both Romero and Aoki have been part of major livestreams, such as Belgian electronic dance music festival Tomorrowland’s United Through Music series.

Meanwhile, fans of the Internet gaming phenomenon Fortnite would have seen Aoki joining fellow DJs Dillon Francis and Deadmau5 during Fortnite Party Royale – an in-game concert – last weekend.

But even for them, nothing quite beats playing at the club, with Romero noting that “the energy at Marquee Singapore is hard to replicate”.

“It’s definitely on my list of favourite clubs in the world to visit,” he tells The Straits Times.

“Along with that, Singapore is one of my favourite cities in the world and I cannot wait to return in person.”

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