Introduction[edit | edit source]
The following establishments constitute a chronicle of the relative non-successes amongst the efforts of Singaporean gay entrepreneurs to carve a profitable niche in the limited pink market. Some of these businesses may have closed for reasons other than cash-flow problems, so it may not be fair to label all of them as 'failures'.
The factors that prevented them from taking off may have included poor location, small size, high rent, lack of focus, insufficient advertising, incorrect pricing, undifferentiated service, partnership disputes and many others.
It is hoped that after a decade of recording these establishments, a meta-analysis of the factors which led to their demise may be made and be instructive to future gay entrepreneurs.
Pubs, Bars and Karaoke joints[edit | edit source]
Saturday night men's party. Even though it was located in the heart of Tanjong Pagar, it was not very popular, probably due to the presence of larger, well-established bars and discos all around. It opened in 2003 and closed down in 2005. The location has been taken over by an establishment called Freeze.
Located at Boay Quay in the 1990s. Some recall that it served good cakes and coffee.
57 Neil Rd (next to Taboo), tel: 6227-6772. A new kid on the karaoke scene when it opened, gay-owned and managed. It offered a very wide choice of songs from the region, even Thai and Japanese. It had friendly staff and a very talented young boss. To ensure that the air stayed cool and fresh, the pub was fitted out with ionisers and air fresheners. The simple, modern decor gave the place a cosy and warm ambiance. Drinks were reasonably priced with frequent special promotions for customers. It opened daily from 6pm to 3am.
Discos[edit | edit source]
- dbl 0,, - a mainstream disco at #01-01/02, 222, Queen Street which held its gay night unusually on Saturdays instead of Sundays. It functioned as such only from 2001 to 2002 because it could not compete with the other dedicated gay discos like Happy and Why Not? for the pink market. It was the venue for Crystal Ball, a charity event co-organised by Fridae and AfA in aid of HIV patients.
Lesbian venues[edit | edit source]
The bar was a sole proprietorship incorporated on Thursday, 11 March 1999 and cancelled as a business entity on Saturday, 1 July 2017. It was issued with a Unique Entity Number (UEN) of 52887580M by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) on 11 September 2008. Its primary business activity using the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) was listed as a pub and its secondary business activity, a restaurant.
Located across the street from Boat Quay, the pub came alive every Friday night with Top 40 and R&B hits, a packed dance floor and an al fresco area. It was a good bet for an action-packed girls-only night out. It opened in 1999 and closed in 2005.
"On the last day of 2002, we went to Mad Monks, a lesbian club flanking the Singapore River. It doesn’t exist anymore. The bouncer was a butch in her thirties. I was stunned: There are old lesbians in Singapore? Patently underaged, we were told to run out the back in the event of a police raid. Inside, there were adult butches in binders dirty dancing with adult ah lians in halter tops. Online anglophone definitions of this Hokkien slang word suggest a “skimpily dressed girl gangster with tattoos,” an “unsophisticated hillbilly seen in unsavory places,” a “distasteful (Singaporean Chinese) female who speaks bad English, is lowly educated, crude, loud, foulmouthed,” but this does nothing to capture the demotic reverence encoded in the term, which is not half as pejorative as it sounds: the ah lian is always hot, sassy, and ready to hold her own in a fight. Wow, I smirked to myself, watching them dance. It was so not a phase."
Spas and Saunas[edit | edit source]
- Papillon - A gay sauna in Robertson Quay. Its small size and location away from the gay-frequented districts of Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown were probably instrumental in preventing it from achieving mass popularity. It opened in 2004 and closed in mid-2005.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Roy Tan, "Photo Essay: A Brief History of Early Gay Venues in Singapore" in the book "Queer Singapore - Illiberal Citizenship and Mediated Cultures" edited by Audrey Yue and Jun Zubillaga-Pow, Hong Kong University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-988-8139-34-7,,,,,,.
- Dr. Russell Heng's article, "Where queens ruled! - a history of gay venues in Singapore" on Yawning Bread. 
- Utopia's Singapore listings:.
[edit | edit source]
Photo albums of gay cruising venues in Singapore: