The first time I saw Singapore was in 2011 – I was moving there from New York to open a nightclub, Pangaea, at Marina Bay Sands. I’d only seen photos (I would Google Singapore every day for almost two years), but thought it looked beautiful.
I couldn’t believe this city was going to be my home. The Bay was brand new, with the finishing touch of Marina Bay Sands adding the wow factor to the skyline. It took my breath away.
I explored Singapore’s different neighbourhoods, each with their own character and charm. Central was all glamour; Sentosa was where you went to get away from the city; Clark Quay for live music; Chinatown for food. I would go for late-night eats at the Chinatown hawker stands. It always made me smile: you had the women in their expensive high heels sitting on plastic chairs eating Hainan chicken rice and fish ball noodles.
I fell in love with the energy of Singapore, and I wanted to make it my permanent home. But I wanted to bring a piece of New York to the city, so my husband and I decided to add to Singapore’s nightlife with nightclub Bang Bang, before partnering with our old friends from Employees Only in New York to bring the concept to Singapore’s Chinatown last year.
I’m still here. Whenever I have a second, I look at Singapore’s skyline. It continues to fill me with a sense of excitement as much as it did six years ago.
Sarissa Schwartz is a founding partner of bar Employees Only (Singapore and Hong Kong)