High Sobriety

I have a slight aversion to alcohol these days – a real blessing because I don’t have the coin, and it’s never really done anything for my health or gut. But I do love dancing to obliteratingly loud music. Although I haven’t stepped into a club for a while because of the youngsters and hipsters and skeevers that would crowd the usual clubs on a Friday night, Cherylene asked me to be her plus one to the opening of Avalon. It’s hard to turn her down. And since Avalon has quite a party reputation of the Hollywood calibre, I thought it’d be great to shuffle my feet like a true dork again where I knew the music couldn’t possibly be terrible, and the people wouldn’t be afraid to move.

High society had to prove me wrong.

I’m not particularly rich, so the novelty of entering Avalon for free (when I could’ve paid anywhere from $40 to $300) had its own appeal. I should’ve guessed that it was the same for about 500 people lining up with the silver embossed cardboard  invitation in their hands. We’re in the queue with about a 100 people ahead of us and the club executives are going down the line asking to see the invite.

“What the f88k,” a lanky European guy behind me complains, “You would’ve thought that when they sent out the special invites, it would be an exclusive event.”

His shorn head companion chuckles. “If they’re gonna make us wait for an hour, they’d better have some drinks in there for us.” I look at my watch. It’s been half an hour. The first guy jumps ahead to see if they can pull some strings but he’s rejected head on. They continue whining about waiting, discussing how much they need to be inside because of who they are, whoever they are.

Another pissed off attendee name drops the managing director, Julia, asking for her so he can jump to the front. The executive looks him straight in the eye and replies, “No. Even if she knew you, you have to queue. Whether you’re VIP, on the guestlist or media, you have to queue.” I grow strangely fond of her.

This is the first taste I’ve ever had of the upper class; crust of the rich, famous and beautiful. It’s very rank with “class” indeed, and it’s not going to get any better.

We finally get in when a man pulls us from the line and ushers us straight to the velvet rope at the front of the line. I’m utterly confused and choked from the cloud of cologne and perfume reeking from everyone suddenly crowding the entrance. Someone’s about to step on me with 6-inch pumps, but ok, at least we’re getting in. Cherylene spots Hossan Leong and Shan Wee, and I manage to point out Robin Leong.

“Robin Leong?!” she blurts, “You mean he’s still alive?!”

Centre: Robin Leong.

The club is already rife with activity – mostly standing around and talking, even on the dance floor. There’s that signature smell of  cigarettes and sanitizer, but mostly the whiff of the smoke machine.

No one is dancing. I am quite sad. I sidle up next to an approachable-looking girl who’s swaying but isn’t going all out because of the surrounding lack of movement. “Doesn’t anyone know how to have fun?” She agrees wholeheartedly. These people aren’t afraid to move; they just don’t.

There are three levels of models, male expats with hot Singaporean girls, female expats with Singaporean guys that have their shirt buttoned down, girls wearing sparkly metallic pointy shoulder minidresses, and girls with eye-popping cleavage on display. Everyone oozes glamour and sex appeal and quite possibly, hundred dollar notes from the pores of their armpits. It’s Gossip Girl UES Singapore, which I’d much rather watch on TV than be a part of.

Devendra Barnhart is spinning, and he occasionally swaps with Nick Valensi, the guy from The Strokes. There is music, and it’s not even the kind that I like. It’s schizophrenic and rarely danceable, swinging from 80’s Cyndi Lauper to R&B to Elvis and some Home Club-themed tunes. It’s only when another guy no one recognizes  – whom I assume is the resident DJ – takes over that it starts to get danceable, pumping a mash of Calvin Harris’ Flashback and Awooga, followed by Afrojack’s Take Over Control. Otherwise, it’s hard to constantly switch from headbanging to gentle hip twisting. The fact that nobody says sorry when they step on your feet or pushes you about doesn’t help either. It’s nearly misery, but Cherylene and I still dance like there’s no tomorrow when we can.

“The music is not bad,” a girl in a houndstooth dress  shouts to her quite immobile dance partner. Well, it’s not good either.

When it reaches a level of “somewhat boring” we head to the bar and see if a swig of booze will help make it more fun. The bartops are cluttered with Grey Goose, Veuve Cliquot and tiny glass flasks of mixers. “$19!” The pretty bartender yells. For bottled Corona?! Cherylene and I stare at each other and slink away back to the dance floor.

We only stay for two more songs, because we’re already going deaf from poorly monitored sound levels. The mobile scaffolding with the mounted lights above us rise and fall mechanically, which is cool for about 10 seconds, but it’s not reason enough for us to stay.”I just wanna get water and juice,” I say to Cherylene, already missing the small-town brand of intimacy of Chupitos in Clarke Quay.

I take her hand in mine and we leave behind all manner of glitz and money in the crystal pavillion. By the end of the night, we’ve split and Ray has come to pick me up. We’re waiting for the NR6, because it’s much cheaper than grabbing a cab. “How was it?” he asks.

“Boring,” I say, and hold his hand. “I guess  I didn’t want to fit in.”

Location: Avalon @ Marina Bay Sands
Admission: $43 for opening night
Drinks: $19 for a bottle of Corona
Music: Varies. For opening night, a fat thumbs down, but future lineups include Massive Attack, PJ Harvey, The Chemical Brothers, Congorock, and even Boy George, so cross your fingers. The sound system needs a lot of work.
Crowd type: Flashy, strong drinkers, clique-ish/low sociability, mild dancers, expats and eye candy abound
Bottom line: Go there if you’re really into the music acts, but other than that, you can find a better experience elsewhere.

Talky talk

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