For Europeans, boat parties aren’t a new concept. But in Singapore, they’re pretty much unheard of, unless you’ve got cash to blow on chartering a private boat to throw your own parties… until recently.
This February, DJ Zig Zach debuted his bimonthly OUTCAST boat party. According to OUTCAST’s Instagram profile, it is “the first House & Techno party to take place on an old Chinese junk boat sailing around Singapore”. The 33-year-old former Muay Thai fighter turned DJ just threw his second shindig at sea on April 9, which sold out the week before.
Even though Singapore is relatively late to the boat party game – and better late than never – dancing on a two-storey Chinese junk boat as it sails for six hours is probably an experience unique to this country.
Throwing a party like this calls for a DIY approach. Everything, from food, drinks, decor, soundsystem, to tickets have to be taken care of by the organiser. It’s not for posh wankers––don’t expect leather seats and aircon. There are no windows, which means that rain would be bad news. What you see is what you get.
The maximum capacity of 130 on the boat also requires Zach to be more selective with his guests, limiting them to only friends and friends of friends. “It is a big boat and can easily fit more, but I think for safety reasons the company tries to keep it at 130,” he says. That ultimately provides a safe space for like-minded music lovers to come together.
With an abundance of mainstream bottle service clubs in Singapore, and one of the country’s very few underground venues, Kilo, ceasing operations as a nightlife establishment after its final party on New Year’s Day this year, boat parties like OUTCAST provide a much-welcomed alternative party experience. Just what does it take to pull it off? I speak to Zach to find out more.
What gave you the idea to throw boat parties?
I actually played on a friend’s private birthday boat party five years ago and was already thinking that it was amazing and would love to throw a boat party or series of my own. But I was too broke back then and too new in the scene to try and pull something off like that. Earlier this year, I DJed on this cruise ship party, Shipsomnia, and being out at sea kinda just got me thinking about the whole idea again. I mean… what’s there not to like about boat parties?
What’s the division of labour like when it comes to organising OUTCAST?
To be honest majority of the work is done by me. My girlfriend does the artwork. I rent the Boat, I book the DJs, I hire the bartenders and we co-ordinate the amount of booze, ice and whatever else is needed behind the bar. I also hire out a professional sound team to manage the sound on the boat and lastly the team at Waave app manages the ticket sales and also the pre-order bottles of spirits. It’s small enough for me to manage it all on my own right now.
How much time is needed to organise a boat party?
Because the party is once every two months, it gives me enough time to plan everything out. I’m usually already planning the next party the moment one party is over. But usually it’s a month before the date that I start to really put more time and effort into the whole thing
What are the difficult parts that go into throwing boat parties that people don’t see or know about?
To be honest, I have a great bunch of people who are very good at what they do, so I don’t really have any problems there. The bartenders , the sound and even the Waave app team make make it really easy. The real problem is dealing with people’s flakey attitude. THAT is annoying. One min it’s “YESSS I want 10 tickets… next thing is… NO, we changed our mind”.
Because the ticketing isn’t open to everyone, and I try to keep the guy/girl ratio on the boat fairly even, it makes it a bit more tricky with selling the tickets.
The last party, people contacted me to reserve bunch of tickets and of course I gladly did so. Some of them paid on the spot which is great! And then there are others who delayed and delayed and then when it was deadline to pay, they flaked… and that really sucked.
I understand that the Outcast boat parties aren’t open to the general public as you’d prefer to have a curated crowd who’s there for the music, but have there been instances when unsavoury characters managed to get on board? How did you deal with the situation?
As much as I try to keep the party a “Dickhead Free Zone” its hard to manage everyone that comes on that boat. There is always gonna be ONE asshole that slips through the cracks. Unfortunately, the last party there was a couple who were arguing and the husband was just being an idiot. They embarrassed themselves more than anything and things didn’t get out of control and we just let it ride out til we got back to shore.
What are some do’s and don’ts when attending Outcast to ensure that everyone has a good time?
Whenever the event page goes up, I always tell people to read the info of the party. There’s a whole bunch of stuff I write in there so if people think it’s offensive or ridiculous, then they shouldn’t come to my party.
Music brings people together, its about having fun and forgetting your problems on the dance floor. Don’t be the problem or be the problem for people around you.
When’s the next Outcast boat party?
OUTCAST 003 Is June 4th. I hope everyone loves a good house & techno party comes out to experience it at some point. There’s nothing like being out on the boat sailing and hanging with good friends listening to good music.
Catch DJ Zig Zach at SESSIONS feat. Eric Volta at Hotel Jen, and RITUAL One Year Anniversary with Daniel Bortz at kyo, both on May 14. Check out his mixes on Soundcloud, and join his Facebook group, BLACKOUT, for the latest updates on Zach’s parties.