Top 20 Alternative Nights Out

Clubbing and DJ gigs aren’t the only happening things going on during weekend nights, contrary to what a lot of nightlife coverage seems to imply. More quality beer haunts, new open mics and being able to bring your own food to a wine bar are just a few of the 20 cool alternatives open till late that you can go for.
K Suites
Forget LAN gaming centers—here are places you can indulge in console games while getting sloshed at the same time. Over at K Suites (pictured above), it isn’t just about karaoke, as you’ve got a choice of both Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii games. On a more sober note, The Hangout, which began as a board game café on Prinsep Street in 2009, has now morphed into the two‑branch Play Nation (the second one just opened a month ago at *SCAPE) with more than 100 Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and Xbox Kinect games to chose from on top of over 200 board games. While alcohol isn’t served at either outlet, an exception can be made when you organize corporate events (both venues have themed VIP rooms), as the establishment can apply for a temporary liquor license in such cases.
K Suites:
#03‑20 Iluma, 201 Victoria St., 6243‑3113
#02‑01 Orchard Parade Hotel, 1 Tanglin Rd., 6354‑3113
Both outlets open Mon‑Fri 11‑3am; Sat‑Sun 11am‑4am
Play Nation:
#01‑01, 64 Prinsep St., 6336‑9578
#03‑01 *SCAPE, 2 Orchard Link, 6634‑3065
Both outlets open Sun‑Thu 1‑10:30pm; Fri‑Sat 1pm‑3am
St. James Power Station
You don’t have to have your wits about you for the Retrospect Wednesday game at The Boiler Room at St. James Power Station, which happens every week from 11:30pm. Flip open matching letters to win, and find The Boiler Room logos to advance to the bonus round as the flamboyant and bitchy host comedian Gino gets the night rolling. For a chance to join, drop your name card at the door. That also gives you a chance to win up to $1,500 in cash vouchers and other prizes in their fortnightly lucky draws. Ladies get in free as Wednesdays are Ladies Nights, plus five free drinks after 11pm; for the lads, entry is free before 9pm, after which a $12 cover charge, inclusive of one drink, applies.
The Straits Wine Company
This is a place with such quiet charm that you’d want to keep it to yourself and your close circle of friends, but that just wouldn’t be wise to us. At the six‑month‑old East Coast branch of The Straits Wine Company (180 East Coast Road, 6344‑1973. Open Sun‑Thu noon‑11pm; Fri noon‑midnight; Sat 10am‑midnight), there is an understated, cozy dining area above their wine cellar where you can bring your own food, any food, at no extra cost. With so many dining options around the area, this really is a good deal. Cheap eats to a selection of affordable quality wines from around the world such as Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy and Spain—that is a truly unique concept. Wine appreciation classes are held here too; so ring up the folks at this joint to find out more. 
Le Danz
At about 7,000 sq. ft., Le Danz (#03‑045 Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Blvd., 68361941. Open daily 2pm‑1am) claims to be the largest ballroom dance club in this country. Put on your dancing shoes and go back to the 50s with a modern twist, to sounds of rumba, cha cha, waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, salsa, samba, swing, paso doble and jive (phew!). Chill out at the classy neon‑lit bar, or play pool and darts. Ballroom and Latin dance classes with experienced instructors are also available—the venue is equipped with full‑length mirrors for that purpose. You can hold events here too.
, Top 20 Alternative Nights Out
Set in lush greenery right by Dempsy Hill and known for its fine food‑and‑cocktail pairing menus, Tippling Club launched its new‑look Tippling Terrace, an outdoor venue with a stylish bespoke bar, a couple of months back. With a new drinks and snacks menu, and cocktails made using premium spirits like Ron Zacapa rum, Singleton 12‑year whiskey, Tanqueray No. 10 gin, Don Julio tequila and Ketel One vodka, this is the place to be for some quality kick‑back time.
So it would seem our protests for more decent beer choices apart from the usual tepid mainstream ones have been heard. Since January this year, microbrewery LeVel33 and Jibiru Japanese Craft Beer Bar opened shop, spoiling us with choice brews such as LeVel33’s 33.1 blond lager and Jibiru’s Kinschachi Nagoya red miso lager. Tawandang Microbrewery has opened a new outlet in the more accessible Suntec City in April, and AdstraGold Microbrewery, which offers 10 international beers on top of its own brews, has moved to bigger and better premises on East Coast Road.
Whether it’s because the showmanship behind mixing a cocktail enamors you, or because you want the high without the burn and bitterness associated with the spirits that bring it, the art of cocktail making is carving its mark here. The men behind Néktar (opened in December last year) and Drink Culture (just a month old) are proud and passionate about their craft, and tipple‑wise, you’ll find next to nothing but finely‑concocted cocktails at these places. We especially love the bitter chocolate martini at Néktar, and we guarantee the White Russian prepared for you at Drink Culture—layered and flambéed—will be unlike any other White Russians out there. We recommend you sit at the bar, as the master mixologists are only too happy to impress you with a display of their skills.
La Maison du Whisky
We’re not talking about the spooky, paranormal kind; it’s liquid, rather. La Maison du Whisky has expanded from a mere retail outlet to a proper bar at the start of this year, offering a litany of liquors sourced globally. Designed like an old‑fashioned cigar lounge, the $15 cover charge comes with a complimentary plate of cold cuts and cheese, and a free-flow of Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino water. The bar also holds regular tasting sessions so you can come away from the bar with a better idea of how to appreciate whisky and other spirits. Buyan Russian Haute Cuisine & Caviar Bar joined the Duxton Hill area in March, lowering the area’s sleaze factor a notch, or two, what with the two shophouses it occupies. A vodka and caviar bar (serving over 50 premium vodkas in flavors such as cloudberry, chili and cherry), restaurant and private dining room reside within its premises.
The Pigeonhole
We’ve banged on about how awesome we think the book café/arts house The Pigeonhole is in our Mar 18 issue. And now, it’s got a new fortnightly Tuesday open mic going on—finally, another outlet for budding musicians to show off their craft. With the first two just in April, the next dates to look out for this month are May 10 and May 24, 8pm till late. Visit the website for more avant garde events happening every month, such as Singapore’s first ever Super Happy Dev House on May 14, an all‑night “hackfest” and party with beer, food, fun projects and lightning talks, all celebrating the cool geek.
Blu Jaz Cafe
If the standard guitar‑bass‑drums‑vocals gig isn’t your thing, here’s an alternative open mic session you can join in. Over at Blu Jaz, a monthly Thursday African Djembe drumming open mic event with Lila Drums opened two months back, with the third session happening on May 19, 9pm. Listening to exotic African beats in a cozy, laidback environment certainly sounds like an attractive after work chill out option to us. To find out how you can take part in this drumming open mic, contact artistic director Kelvin Kew at [email protected] or 6334‑1430.
, Top 20 Alternative Nights Out
Just try not to fall into the pond. Go night‑fishing at Pasir Ris Town Park (Pasir Ris Town Park, 94 Pasir Ris Central, 6582‑1821), a 24‑hour fishing spot with several ponds, and a 24‑hour beer garden. The main pond is arguably the largest fishing pond in Singapore. The good people at Fisher’s Tavern Restaurant, who run the whole joint, can cook your catch from 2:30‑11:30pm, and you can barbeque the prawns you catch for free—barbeque pits, charcoal and firestarters are all provided. The restaurant also airs live BPL and Champions League soccer matches and F1 races; with that rustic, alfresco feel, this is an ideal place to catch a match over beers and fresh seafood.
We won’t say no to that. The nice folks at Loof offer free satay on Mondays from 6pm until stocks run out. At CM‑PB, pay $5 and you’ll get a free flow of cereal all day (it’s totally free for children aged three and below). You’ll also get complimentary soup of the night every night just before closing.
Thumbs up on the OB Index for this one, we guess. Banned until recently, absinthe has finally made it here in a loud, proud way, at the half‑a‑year‑old Se7en1nch. If you’re bored with the spirits other watering holes here offer, this bar specializes in something that’ll give you an even more altered state of mind: Absinthe cocktails, which you’ll trip on to old school tunes from the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
Goodbye happy hours that end ridiculously early. Not all of us leave the office on time for the last happy hour pint at 9pm, and not all you ladies have time for ladies’ nights on Wednesdays. Some big‑name joints seem to have cottoned on to that and are changing their game. So take note of the following: At Loof, martinis go at 40 percent off from 8:30pm every Tuesday; Brewerkz offers discounted home‑brewed beers after 11pm daily; Five Izakaya has $5 specials on Asahi Draught, red and white wines, sake, shochu, Choya and all house pour spirits; SOUL spoils patrons with free flow vodka 11pm‑1am Thursdays; Helipad’s ladies’ night happens every Saturday—free entry all night.
Shaw Theatres Lido IMAX
If films have to be subject to mind-boggling snips from the scissor-happy Singapore Board of Film Censors (does anyone notice a trend in the cuts that violence seems more acceptable than sex?), we suppose the least cinema operators can do is make the movie-watching experience in theaters a more enjoyable one.
We’re really looking forward to Shaw Lido’s (5/F-6/F Shaw House, 350 Orchard Rd., 6738-0555) reopening this month with a digital Imax theater system. And theater halls we trust have seats with much more leg room; at least one of the theaters in its old premises had seating that was so cramped, we wondered if it was built exclusively for midgets. Its Jurong cineplex is scheduled to open at JCube mall early next year. Shaw is also taking the high-end cinema-going experience away from the city center, with Premiere Screen halls now at nex mall in Serangoon.
On that heartland high-end note, Golden Village (Head office: #B1-10 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Rd., 6311-9162, will open GV Katong this December, with six digital screens and two Gold Class halls. It is now finalizing plans with Perennial Partners to redevelop the Capitol Theatre in 2014.
Cathay unveiled its Platinum Movie Suites at The Cathay Cineplex (5-6/F The Cathay, 2 Handy Rd., 6235-1155) last month, and we can expect a 10-screen multiplex from it in Jurong in 2013.
Closed for over a month for a $3.5 million makeover, Eng Wah Suntec (#03-051 Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Blvd., 6836-9074) officially reopened in April with halls with more legroom and seats imported from Europe. Clementi folk can look forward to a $10 million cineplex from Eng Wah in 2013.
Never mind that our little red dot is studded with way too many concrete obstructions, making a clear landing spot near-impossible to create. The good folk at iFly Singapore (43 Siloso Beach Walk, Sentosa, 6325-4606) have gotten around this by building the world’s largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel, which opened its doors just last month. Now those of you aged three- to 106-years-old, whether you’re a novice or professional, will get to experience that free-falling adrenaline rush. While official opening hours have yet to be confirmed at press time, we’ve been told that night-flying will be available.
Naughty Girl
It’s called Naughty Girl (#02-46 Orchard Towers, 400 Orchard Rd., Open Sun-Thu 8pm-6am; Fri-Sat 8pm-7am), on one of the Four Floors of Whores (Orchard Towers, if you didn’t know already). But contrary to its seedy-sounding name and the fact that there are bar top dancers, it actually hosts a decent house band that dishes out well-done rock ‘n’ roll and metal covers (including Iron Maiden songs) and takes requests, and the clientele is arguably far from shady—it includes curious university students and people who are just there for the band. Certainly a stand-out from its seedier neighbors. Another established Thai disco worth checking out is the aptly named Thai Disco (#01-97/98, #02-85/92 Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Rd., 6299-5698/ 6295-1611. Open Mon-Fri 8pm-3am; Sat, Eve of PH 8pm-4am; Sun, PH 8pm-3am), which offers live soccer screenings, Internet kiosks game machines and a pool table on top of quality resident Djs, over two floors in Golden Mile Complex.
, Top 20 Alternative Nights Out
This is not exactly an open mic. Rather, it’s a hodgepodge of musicians of different genres, who get together for an un-rehearsed jamming session, improvising on the spot to create genre-bending tunes. If you think you’ve got what it takes, Playfreely happening at Black Box (Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Rd., 6342-5790) offers you the chance to show off your stuff. Or just go watch the bands play with an open mind. Playfreely held its first session in April with five more dates coming up. True to its underground roots, you’ll need to email [email protected] to find out when the next dates are.
Learn the art of making music with just your mouth and throat, with the man who’s chosen to make beatboxing his full time gig—the only one we’ve come across in Singapore so far. Word on the street is, he’s dope. Every week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Dharni conducts beatboxing lessons, either at *SCAPE (3/F-4/F 2 Orchard Link) or at the E-Tracx DJ School (411A Jln. Besar, 6224-4600. $30 for two hours.) Get on his Facebook fan page and drop him a message to ask for details on his lessons.
It’s moved three times in five years, but it looks like this hip indie bookstore BooksActually (9 Yong Siak St., 6222-9195. Open Mon-Fri 11am-9pm; Sat 10am-9pm; Sun 10am-6pm) will finally lock its roots down in Tiong Bahru, where it relocated to just two months ago. They hold a diverse range of events regularly, such as the Well Informed Wednesday, which hosts poetry and writing workshops, conducted by experienced facilitators, for all you aspiring scribes. The next dates to look out for such writing classes are Jun 15 and Jun 29 (both at 7:30pm), with poet and performer Miriam Nash. Check the website, blog, or join BooksActually’s Facebook group for regular updates.