Last Updated: October 31, 2014
kyō is one of Singapore’s latest underground night clubs to rock the nation, in a space formerly occupied by a bank. Tucked away along the business district of Cecil Street, kyō serves savvy corporate workers with its hideaway concept and those who are looking for the flip side of life other than work.
It was a bit odd for me to be visiting a club while the sun was still out, but kyō was happy to host and give us an inside peek of what goes on in a club behind the loud beats, endless house pours and raving dancers. Even though I’ve a bartending background, a club’s complex operations is on yet a different level, combining multiple disciplines by different people in order to produce an apt customer experience.
For me, the perfect customer experience is one where you don’t feel a distinction between customer and business at all, but rather as a friend visiting another friend.
There are 3 core activities towards a club’s success that I had the pleasure to experience first-hand: security, drinks and the music.
For kyō, the journey starts from the street level. Head of Security Din explains that at the start of every night, the queue poles are brought out and a line is formed to control access not just from minors, but any unruly characters.
As compared to other local clubs I’ve been to, the attitude of the security detail at kyō appears to be friendlier, and they try to resolve any disputes with words first rather than going straight to brute force. Friendly bouncers are a pleasant change, but don’t mistake their friendliness for weakness – they’ll tackle you to the floor if they have to.
Descending down the stairs, you start to see the gradual transition into a whimsical adult playground.
Punk graffiti artworks by local artists adorn the surrounding walls.
Rough cut stone, wood and bronze make up the Japanese-inspired industrial underground interior of kyō. This underground bar and club was designed to make patrons feel at ease, like being in a living room, with its many symmetrical layouts.
On the psychedelic dance floor, I received a further first-hand experience on what happens to unsavory fellows who flip tables in the club – you get flipped as well.
Din might look like a small fellow, definitely smaller than myself, but with most of the security team blessed with the knowledge of Krav Maga, taking down larger targets when necessary is hardly an issue.
Trust me, you don’t want to mess with the security at kyō. However, physical violence is always the last resort that won’t be necessary if troublemakers listen to their kind warnings. Alcohol turns logic moot though, so it’s still comforting to know other guests are taken care of if things really do turn rowdy. Of course, even the safety of rowdy guests are taken note of so they don’t harm themselves or anyone else.
No club is complete without an outlet for guests to get inebriated sufficiently to think they have dance moves like Jagger. kyō’s central bar, at 27m long(which is the longest built bar in the city), serves this purpose.
Matt, kyō’s bartender, shows us how he prepares 3 common drinks most often ordered in a club: house pours, cocktails and draft beer.
As a customer ordering drinks, you rarely appreciate how fast the bartenders have to work to produce the sheer amount of drinks ordered each night. Kyō aims to produce at least 1 drink per minute, starting from the more complicated orders (cocktails), to the straight forward varieties like beer.
To experience the difficulty in speed bartending, we immersed ourselves in making drinks within a time limit just like how the actual scenario would be like on a busy night with the bar swamped with impatient, thirsty customers all screaming at the bartenders like no tomorrow.
I used to work in a couple of bars myself, so believe me from personal experience that the level of pressure needed to meet demands from guests is no simple feat to manage – remembering multiple drink orders, swiping credit cards, returning change, noticing the drunkard who should be cut off; it’s a multi-tasking nightmare. Still, bartenders have to put on a smile while telling drunk guests politely that you can’t get a free drink no matter how hot you are.
With their quality and speed in making drinks, it’s unbelievable how the bartenders at kyō still look happy and relaxed all the time.
Finally, the last piece to completing a good club vibe is the music atmosphere. And the Gods who control this music are the experienced DJs like kyō’s Kenneth Francis.
You can tell by our bewildered faces that blending tracks together in one seamless motion is like learning rocket science – there were as many switches and dials as an airplane’s flight control surface.
Of course, under the supervision of the DJ I had a go at the turntable as well, attempting to match the beat and tempo of two tracks together in one smooth transition. I can safely say I have as much talent in DJ-ing as a potato, and I’m glad the professionals are there to take care of the club’s musical needs.
The music controls the mood, and a DJ’s ultimate desire is for the crowd to go wild with their tunes. Be warned though, song requests are not always entertained, especially if the request is the complete opposite of the night’s theme, like asking Beethoven to play rock music. The level of concentration needed to multi-task 2739 things at the same time also means the DJ might not be able to respond to conversations while they are spinning – hardly implying that they are unfriendly, just preoccupied.
Unlike other clubs, kyō plays a mix of genres on different nights to keep the crowd happy. You can come back every night and hear something distinct, keeping boredom at bay. My favorite mainstream electronic dance tracks happen on Wednesday nights, while other mixes including house, R&B and experimental tracks get spun on weekends.
Opened in March 2013, kyō has been a raging success with local urbanites. Singaporean owner Godwin Pereira shared with us that the club’s success in service excellence has been a hardworking product of constant learning and adaptation. The staffs attitude of treating club-goers as friends has also proven to be well-received, building an emotional connection as people rather than a business to customer approach.
As you’ve seen from this article, there are many concurrent moving parts to operating a club business that go beyond the friendly smiles of the staff. Individually, security manages the crowd, the bar serves drinks and the DJ plays his tunes, but put them all together with the same goal of providing excellent service and you’ll have the winning recipe for an outstanding club.
This year, for the Singapore Experience Awards, kyō is a finalist for the ‘Best Nightspot Experience’ category. This award recognizes establishments ranging from bars to clubs that promise to entertain revellers who are painting the town red or taking a breather from the daily routine with world-class acts and a dedicated bar. Head to the Awards webpage https://www.singaporeexperience.com to find out more; you can also share the experiences you’ve enjoyed by tagging #yoursingapore, and your posts could be reposted on the @Visit_Singapore Instagram page.
Great music, friendly service and awesome company – this is one for the party people, so come on down for a drink at one of the most welcoming clubs in town, kyō.
This post is brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board.