Being A Promoter In Singapore’s Clubbing Scene
This was written from the perspective of a former club promoter. Names have been concealed to protect identities.
I started clubbing when I turned 18. I loved the loud music, the feeling of being intoxicated, and the attention I received from men.
So when a mutual friend approached me to be a club promoter, I thought “why not?” Back then, I was already partying with my girlfriends on Wednesdays, so I figured I could earn extra cash while having fun.
The logic was simple: If a club had pretty girls, guys would be lured to party and spend money on alcohol.
So from 10.00pm to 2.00am on Wednesday night, I worked for S$50 an hour and had S$3 for every girl I brought into the club.
The job perks
Half of the girls I signed under my guestlist were my friends. The other half were the prettiest girls who were waiting in line.
In my tight bodycon dress and 4-inch heels, I’d trawl the club’s queue, signing in more than 100 girls a night by aiming large groups of 6-10.
This way, four short hours of work brought in an easy ~S$500.
Aside from bringing girls into the club, my job included ushering VIP guests to their table. While club promoters were not expected to entertain VIP guests, it made good business to turn rich men into happy, returning customers by fulfilling their requests.
That’s when things turned sleazy and how the lines of professional behaviour started blurring.
Sexual harassment in clubs
Most of the VIP guests were bankers, lawyers and well-known celebrities. They had spending power and had no qualms ordering 50 bottles of Moet in a night.
And when the VIP tables filled up with alcohol, the girls would come.
It was a common sight for pretty, skimpily-dressed girls to be seated on the laps of these men, or for the VIPs to get uncomfortably handsy with their date.
Many of these men often knew they could get away with their behaviour because it was easy to take advantage of young girls who were flattered to get access to the VIP lounge or DJ console.
Some would outrightly tell me what type of girls they liked so I could bring in easy prey for them. Others would expect me to be okay with being touchy-feely and even preposition me to sleep with them.
Once, a drunk regular pinned me to the wall, leaned in and said, “My Lambo is downstairs, let’s go.”
While I managed to worm myself out of the situation, I thought about how many impressionable 18-year-olds would have been lured by his good looks and money.
After all, many girls fell for it. I saw it in the way a group of promoters would boast of sleeping with the same guy. Or how gold diggers actively sought to ‘hook’ their ticket to taitai-dom.
I saw it in how everyone else kept their mouth shut when the VIPs were clearly groping a girl when she was uncomfortable because of the power of their money.
Why I left the job
Initially, I only wanted to stay for a couple of months, but the money was too good so I stayed for two years. Eventually, I left not because of the sexual harassment, but because partying took a toll on my physical and mental health.
After two years, it had become normal to smoke two packs a day. To remain sober, I often forced myself to puke at least four times in a night.
My drinking habits were out of control. If a customer ordered a tray of shots, I would occasionally finish the drinks in one sitting. And even if no one ‘forced’ me to drink, I was averaging about ten drinks a night.
I realised the clubbing scene was an extremely toxic environment where people made use of one another.
I had 5000 friends on my Facebook list, but was mostly treated as a ‘friend with benefits’; an easy way to get free drinks and entry into the club.
Girls I signed in on the regular hugged me when they saw me, called me “babe”, and pretended to be my best friends. But if I saw them on the street the next day, they would just turn the other way.
I got sick of all the bullshit I decided to quit, never mind the ~S$2000 for just four short days of work.
In the process, I deleted three-quarter of the people on my Facebook friends list and stopped drinking entirely for three years.
Why people want to get into the scene
Despite how toxic the life was, I was fortunate enough to come out unscathed by sexual harassment.
Like many of the other promoters, I was lured into the scene by money and power; I could order free drinks for friends, or kick them out of the club. As an impressionable teenager, the glamour of the nightlife was a sweet feeling.
I also don’t deny it can be a lucrative industry for girls, provided they look after themselves and know the boundaries that need to be drawn.
You must know who you can depend on when you’re tipsy—the real friends who would send you home safely and not take advantage of your vulnerability. Don’t feel obligated to take drinks if you feel forced to, and don’t leave your glass unattended.
Remember those girls left unconscious on the walkway, zhaogeng-ed, and all alone? Don’t be that. There’s nothing fun about sleeping in your own puke.
Don’t give up a long-term life goal for a short-term satisfaction. The money is good but it’s difficult to do this forever (most girls drop out at 23/24).
And remember, know how to say “no”. Don’t let guys bully you into doing something you don’t want to do.
Learn how to PR and come up with a list of excuses to help maintain professional standards (i.e. why you cannot drink so much/go home with them). Say you’re not feeling well, or working early the next day so you have to go home, or the iconic “my dad is picking me up”.
Partying Culture in Singapore
At the end of the day, having fun or earning money shouldn’t be at the expense of your own safety or values. Don’t be fooled by peer pressure, because not everything that ‘happens in the club, stays in the club’ if you wake up with regret.
As long as you’re mature enough to own the situation, some of these parties can end up becoming fond, lifelong memories to look back on. After all, you’re only young once.
Cover image: Source