It’s my second time at Venom – a disco on the 12th floor of Pacific Plaza along Scots Road here in Singapore. The building houses Tower Records and two action figure toy stores; I haven’t been to Tower Records…

My friend Joemar and I were at Venom for the Singapore launch of the new Macintosh computers; aside from the fact that that meant free drinks and some freebies, as well as waiver of the $25 cover charge. We brought home a cool T-shirt.

Having been there once before, I acted as if I were a regular. Knowing where the “loo” (veddy British English for toilet) is without asking the waitresses sporting a skintight, navel-revealing outfit with a full shoulder exposed (I can’t remember which side) and helping point this out to your colleagues states this fact nonchalantly.

The hour-long presentation left me thirsting for a drink, and after drowning in a glass of murky, pink liquid they had lined up on the bar which evidently everyone was ignoring, I had to have something alcoholic at least. I paid SIN$15 for a bottle of Corona which costs US$1 a bottle – unless the currency has dropped since I last checked or they had some other currency in mind when they did the conversion, these prices are outrageous!

Absorbing every ounce of alcohol in that single bottle, I managed to get myself beyond sobriety – not to mention that I haven’t had lunch nor dinner that day.

But since that was my second time at Venom, I knew about their horrendous prices. The last time I was there, I had vodka tonic, or at least that’s what they called it, for S$10 a pop. I distinctly remember I had six of these, and went home sober. That was when Diana King was in Singapore and she sang five songs, for the S$25 cover charge, that makes for S$5 per song – I would’ve done better buying her CD.

Venom’s nothing special, it’s a disco whose dance floor didn’t get full even during Diana King’s singing. It’s main point of attraction is a gigantic, stretched, tubular fabric adorning the ceiling, much like a very inflated stocking or Godzilla’s ribbed Trojans. They also have big candelabras along the bar. Aside from these, it could’ve been any other disco – makes you wonder what statement they’re trying to make or what they’re pretending to be.

I’ve also been to Heaven – no I didn’t die and had an out-of-body experience; it’s another disco on the ground floor of Orchard Parade Hotel somewhere in the city. The ornamentation flaccidly attempts to make a statement, although I haven’t yet figured out what that might be. Adorned with life-size statues of decapitated angels as far as I can remember, there’s nothing much else to tell.

Disco dancing, Singapore-style, basically means moving your body to the music, if you wish, and nothing else. Almost everybody moves in exactly the same way, the differences lie only in the degree of movement. Considering that the dance floors are barely full, which leaves a lot of room for creativity. Except that there is none, at least in the highly-specialised field of disco dancing known only to a handful of mortals trained in the arts by the masters in some Tibetan monastery sporting a mirror ball instead of a gong.

I have never seen as pathetic a bunch of people attempting to at least come close to dancing as I have seen. Considering Singaporeans are a well-traveled lot, I expected something more. Poor bastards, I give them credit for trying…

After Heaven, Hell should be next on the agenda, although I guess the name would be illegal here in Singapore, where the government controls much of everything. Instead we headed for Zouk Wine Bar, part of a hodge-podge of theme bars in some other central part of the city – a retail response to the variety-vacuum here in Singapore.

Friday night was media night, with a one-for-one deal (buy-one-take-one) on drinks for people in the media. I gave them my business card which the waitress had to take to some back room and had it verified by some unknown, silhouetted figure who gives the go signal while we await our second pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea which has absolutely nothing to do with the iced tea we’re all familiar with.

Apparently most of the people had done away with the British unit of measure for lager known as the pint and instead are drinking from pitchers and doing away with glasses. These people drink hard! Or maybe we were early, or maybe they were just selfish…

That was midnight, and the place was packed. Nothing much was happening; people were talking, bumping into each other, talking, walking, bumping – so what’s the big deal here?

I must be missing something – forgive me for my pleasure-seeking peak is beginning to recede and the parched lands of thirtysomething looms on the horizon.

07 June 1998 @ 1:48am