Friday, April 18, 2008

Race to the Party

The Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix may be five months away, but already there's plenty of action revving up before flag off

The whiff of petrol and burnt rubber may seem like a distant prospect but most top clubs and bars are already fighting for pole position to throw a string of parties fit for the podium come Singapore's historic Formula 1 Grand Prix in September.

To begin with, Singapore GP — the people behind the inaugural Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix — will be kicking off a series of activities for three weekends starting from Sept 20. Among them will be the Singapore River Festival, which will see our historic waterway turn into a hive of activities including concerts featuring "international and local artistes, outdoor parties and a float parade on the river".
Some key party hubs along the river — including Ministry of Sound, IndoChine Waterfront and Zouk — will be incorporated into the celebrations. Singapore GP is still working out the nitty-gritty behind the events, but the clubs shared their plans with Today.

For instance, if Ministry of Sound has its way, racing aficionados might get a chance to get a piece of the British super club franchise at the circuit itself.
"We are definitely in talks with Singapore GP about possibly having a presence in the circuit itself, like a little outdoor party area, but it's yet to be confirmed," said Bernard Lim, the executive vice-president of LifeBrandz, which holds the local franchise for the club. "We are also planning some parties during that weekend and we are looking at bringing down guest DJs for the club."
He added that the club is in talks with potential partners such as liquor brands and automobile companies and "putting ideas together".
Lifestyle group IndoChine, no strangers to the nightlife scene, also has grand plans. For starters, adding to the growing number of F1-themed parties already being held ahead of the race will be the third anniversary celebration of its Forbidden City club and restaurant at Clarke Quay on Tuesday, which will see VIPs and celebrities galore, said Clementine Rogers, the group marketing manager for IndoChine.
But she said IndoChine's main grand prix party will be the annual 10-day long IndoChine Festival, which will be held this year to coincide with the race, allowing guests who are "the crème de la crème of Asia including the Middle East" to party in style.
She said the group also plans to leverage on its experience hosting parties for teams including McLaren, Red Bull and Toyota during the annual Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang to host official after-race parties here with Formula 1, if not its affiliates.

Another major player on the local nightlife scene, St James Power Station, is in the "final stages" of confirming a couple of events related to F1 teams Ferrari and McLaren. It is also in talks with brands linked to other teams. Andrew Ing, chief operating officer of St James, said: "We are going to transform Powerhouse (one of its outlets) into a Johnnie Walker/McLaren-themed space on the weekend of the race and the week leading up to it. It's in the planning stages."
St James will have replicas of Ferrari and McLaren cars, simulators, giant screens showing live action from the circuit and race queens at the clubbing megaplex.
While not a club, GH Mumm, which is the official bubbly for F1 races, is already revving things up by holding — earlier this month at Zouk — the first of some many parties to be held ahead of the race.
"Fans of GH Mumm and Formula 1 can look forward to more exciting events hosted by GH Mumm as we're looking to hold another six to seven events in the lead-up to the race," said Zhang Liya, a marketing manager for booze distributor Pernod Ricard Singapore. She added that the list of parties was yet to be finalised but assured that they will be "stellar" if past involvements such as the Official Grand Prix Ball, luxurious Paddock Club and Sky Lounges are anything to go by.
Also joining the fray is long-running local superclub Zouk, which is planning to bring down a superstar DJ for its party on race weekend. Tracy Phillips, the club's marketing manager, said tentative plans include one of its regular "Very" theme parties titled "Very Racey", which will see the place decked out in Grand Prix fashion.
Goodwood Park Hotel's Thumper is already fine-tuning its engine. It held a Grand Prix party last month, complete with race queens and simulator racing competitions. One of the club's partners David Chin said that "a host of peripheral activities are lined up for the season" without giving any details, only saying he would like to take advantage of its spacious car park in front of the club to give its parties a unique spin. We are hoping for go-kart racing, at the very least.

But if there is one party that is not to be missed, it would probably be the ultra-exclusive Amber Lounge, which is coming to town just for the race on Sept 27 and 28. Amber Lounge was started six years ago by Sonia Irvine, sister of former F1 racer Eddie Irvine.
Singapore will become one of the five race destinations — the other four being Monaco, Barcelona, Valencia, and Shanghai — to host the party venue in the F1 calendar.
It is where celebrities such as racing legend Michael Schumacher, U2 frontman Bono, supermodel Helena Christensen and actor Kevin Spacey have hung out on race weekends (maybe because the champagne doesn't stop flowing until dawn). There are rumours that the lounge will be housed at the Conrad Centennial Singapore, but no venue has been officially confirmed.
The all-inclusive price tag for partying like an F1 star has, however, been set — and it might make you hit the brakes. The cheapest table at Amber Lounge goes for 3,995 euros ($8,600) while the most expensive is 7,250 euros. Individual passes cost 500 euros a day.

We suggest you start racing to snag an invite — starting now.
Start Your Engines


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