Steampunk Club Rails and retro bar NINETEEN80 have officially ceased operations

Steampunk Club Rails and retro bar NINETEEN80 have officially ceased operations

Back in June, when Singapore had implemented another round of restrictions in light of rising pandemic cases, we spoke to Joshua Pillai and Francesca Way of A Phat Cat Collective on their impetus to survive, the struggles that came with the unending pivots, and touched on their relentless attitude in keeping the nightlife alive in Singapore, prime and ready for whenever we would bounce back to normality. 

In a twist of fate, the collective has announced that both establishments are set to close permanently from today.

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A post shared by NINETEEN80 (@nineteen80bar)

Arriving as no surprise, the crew cited tough Covid conditions, including restrictions and the blanket ban on nightlife as primary reasons for its tap out. This comes after many other nightlife establishments in Singapore have already waved the white flag ever since the nation's first lockdown in the first quarter of 2020.

Pillai shared his personal account in tandem with the announcements, saying: "It is with heavy hearts that due to the ongoing challenges and constant disruptions of operating pivoted nightspot in this COVID pandemic, this will be the end of the road for us here at NINETEEN80 and Rails."

NINETEEN80 was a retro discotheque-cum-arcade, presenting anything from ol' school to retro funk, with speakers blaring synthesizers that harked from an era passed and arcade games you wished you'd revisited more as an adult. Rails, the team's answer to the shutdown of legacy alt-dancefloor Kilo Lounge, was a steampunk lounge and club, dishing out deeper cuts of house music and melodic techno. It was envisioned as a replacement for the aforementioned Kilo, its sprawling dancefloor begetting the same sort of crowd to two-step throughout the night at a familiar locale.

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A post shared by Rails Bar & Lounge (@railsclub)

Prior to Singapore's most recent restrictions where nightlife establishments were ordered to cease physical operations, Rails emerged successful in launching several programmes to sustain their tenure, offering curated DJ live streams, 'Stay Home Saloons' for food and drinks, and chiefly launching 'Staying Alive', a fan-supported initiative meant to keep the establishment afloat via discounted liquor, lucky draws, and musical offerings, amongst others.

As a writer that was bullish on Rails for its vision and potentiality for our circuit's seemingly stacked battle for nightlife culture, it's no surprise that many like myself were perplexed by the news, despite the unsavoury Deja Vu given the state of things. When speaking to Pillai and Way on premises right after July's temporary easing of restrictions, it seemed like things could only be on the up then, with their optimism and belief firmly rowing on if not for the bleak backdrop, but for the scene's health. 

Not much could've signalled to us then that true rock bottom was merely in close sight.

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A post shared by A Phat Cat Collective (@aphatcatcollective)

The collective still lives and breathes in its final establishment via Pinball Wizard, a hip-hop and gaming abode that has also been shut indefinitely. 

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