SINGAPORE – After 20 years of hosting Singapore’s best live bands, Holland Village Wala Wala has turned off the lights in its concert space on the second floor.
The iconic waterhole, which began its concerts in October 2001, announced the closure via its Facebook page on November 7. The first floor, which houses a café and a bar, remains open.
All that’s left on the now-abandoned second floor are bar chairs and tables stacked up, along with instruments and microphones that haven’t been used for nearly two years. The owners are looking for a new tenant to take over the space.
“The second floor has been closed since late March 2020, when live performances were first banned (under Covid-19 restrictions), and we’ve been bleeding money ever since,” said the owner and director by Wala Wala, Stanley Yeo.
After 20 months of inactivity, he had no choice but to shut down one of the mainstays of live entertainment in Singapore, which featured local cover bands and musicians such as Jack and Rai, 53A and Reverie.
“Even the government grants didn’t help … We took money from our reserves and paid for it all this time,” Yeo said.
Although recorded music is now allowed in theaters after nearly five months, he has no hope for the return of live music.
“There is hope that things will open slowly, but it will take at least three to six months, and live music will likely be at the end of this period,” he said.
Over the past couple of months, two places on Tanjong Pagar Road have also called it a night – the retro arcade bar Nineteen80 and Rails, a steampunk-themed lounge.
It was a double whammy for entertainment company A Phat Cat Collective, which announced the sudden closure of the venue in September. Nineteen80 opened in June 2018, and Rails only in February of this year.
They were among 400 pivoted nightlife businesses that were ordered to shut down in July to stem the spread of Covid-19, following a spike in cases at KTV clubs.
As of November 11, only about 130 of these establishments had received the green light to resume their restaurant activities, according to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Phat Cat Collective co-founder Joshua Pillai said: “Covid-19’s extensive restrictions on nightlife hubs were particularly punitive and made operational and financial viability impossible, even though we were a good business. faith that respected the standards still in force. change in regulations. “
The company has also struggled to keep up with the high rental costs, according to the owner’s pre-Covid 19 terms. “This has been exacerbated by restaurant capacity limits and delayed access to rental assistance… we still have not received our government support from the heightened alert period,” Pillai said.
The company had no choice but to exit the market and 12 employees, all Singaporeans, lost their jobs.
“The authorities’ approach to the restaurant and nightlife hubs has been extremely difficult,” Pillai said.
“The biggest underlying issue is still that the Covid-19 regulations continue to target the F&B industry in the most drastic fashion, with just days’ notice (for compliance). “