Lincoln Cheng

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Lincoln Cheng
Lincoln Cheng profile.jpg
Born
Ching Ling Ka

1947
EducationMasters of Business Administration
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
OrganisationFounder of Zouk
Spouse(s)Adeline Cheng

Lincoln Cheng, also known as Singapore’s Godfather of House Music, is the founder of Zouk.[1] Before entering the entertainment industry, Lincoln Cheng was a local furniture supplier. He had made a name for himself in the entertainment industry by bringing a new genre of music to Singapore and transforming the local nightlife scene.

Background[edit | edit source]

Before his foray into the local entertainment industry, Lincoln Cheng established a high-end furniture store called 'Abraxas' after noticing a demand for modern furniture designs. The store introduced designer furniture brands such as Alessi. Between 1984 and 1994, he was also the Managing Director of another furniture group called 'Business World Services'.[2][3]


Cheng sold his furniture business after noticing an oversaturation of the industry. He was inspired to establish Zouk from his yearly trips to Ibiza in the 1980s where he had been exposed to Balearic music.[4] During the process of building Zouk, Cheng began to DJ at the local ‘The Warehouse’ club on Saturday nights.[5] In doing so, he created a following for himself before Zouk's public opening in 1991.[6]

Zouk Management Pte Ltd (1991 - 2015)[edit | edit source]

The three warehouses that were restored and transformed into the first Zouk Club in 1991. Photo from The Straits Times.

Lincoln Cheng is known as the Godfather of House music, having brought the genre to Singapore through Zouk in 1991. Over the years, Cheng also helmed the numerous changes and growth of the club especially in its formative years at Jiak Kim Street. Apart from being a pioneer of the clubbing scene in Singapore, Cheng has also been praised for his management of the 200 staff members under him.[7] In a 2015 interview with The New Paper, a few of Cheng's staff members spoke out about the care and appreciation he has shown towards their work.[8]

The facade of Zouk at Jiak Kim Street. Photo from Asia Bars.

Initial growth (Jiak Kim Street)[edit | edit source]

The original Zouk Club at Jiak Kim Street was designed based on Cheng’s travels around Ibiza and other Mediterranean coastal countries. Zouk at Jiak Kim Street was housed in three restored warehouses that originally occupied the land when Cheng acquired it.[9] During Zouk’s first month of opening, Cheng invited DJ Alfredo, who was considered the front-runner for Balearic music in Ibiza, to be a resident DJ at the club.[10]


Spanning 20,000 square feet, the club premises at Jiak Kim Street consisted of a dancefloor, restaurant, cafe, wine bar and a pub. Through the years, the club had been revamped multiple times. At the end of 1991, the pub was converted into ‘MTV Bar’, which played music videos from MTV, a music-centric American television channel.[11] After which it was changed to an R&B, urban and hip hop club called Phuture.[12][13] In 1994, the restaurant was also converted into Velvet Underground which was exclusive to Zouk members only.[14]

The CD cover of the Mambo Jambo compilation.


Along with a local radio station, the Zouk management co-organised a weekly Wednesday night clubbing event that lasted from 1992 to 2012. Originally named 'Thank God It's Wednesday' (TGIW), it became more widely known as 'Mambo Jambo Nights'.[15] The event was so popular among locals that a CD with a compilation of all the greatest Mambo Jambo hits was released for the fans of the themed clubbing night in 1998.[16] The end of Mambo Jambo nights was commemorated through a documentary film called ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ and was released on 30 November 2016 at local arthouse cinema The Projector.[17]

Relocation and change of ownership[edit | edit source]

In 2014, the Zouk management faced issues with their lease at Jiak Kim Street and was heading towards a shutdown. In an interview with The Straits Times, Cheng revealed that he had only been given short term extensions on Zouk's lease since June 2012.[18] According to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Singapore Tourism Board (STB), and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the land occupied by Zouk Club has developed into prime real estate.[19]

Eventually, Zouk was able to find a suitable location in Clarke Quay.[20] Zouk opened its new 30,000 square feet premises to the public on 17 December 2016.


In 2015, Cheng announced his intentions to sell Zouk to the Genting Hong Kong group.[21] In a 2016 interview with The Straits Times, Cheng cited his age as a push factor.[22] Additionally, he stated that Genting Hong Kong could bring Zouk to the next level without his direct supervision.

Awards and recognition[edit | edit source]

Year Awarding Organisation Award
2014 International Music Summit (IMS) International Music Summit (IMS) Pioneer Award for Asia-Pacific
2004 Singapore Tourism Board Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award

International Music Summit 2014[edit | edit source]

In recognition of his efforts in developing Singapore's nightlife scene, Lincoln Cheng was invited to the International Music Summit in 2014. At the event, he received the IMS Pioneer Award for Asia-Pacific.[23]

In his interview with English DJ Paul Oakenfold as part of the summit, Zouk was described as the gateway for DJs to perform and play in the region. He then went on to praise Zouk for being a club that most international DJs would want to play in.[24]

Drink driving incident (2017)[edit | edit source]

On 15 February 2017, Lincoln Cheng consumed two glasses of wine during a dinner at Ion Orchard before heading home. He ran two red lights along Eu Tong Sen Street and consequently collided with a taxi which hit a nearby shelter’s metal pole. He failed a breathalyser test and was consequently arrested.[25]

A subsequent test revealed 43 micrograms of alcohol present in every 100 ml of breath, which was beyond the legal limit of 35 micrograms. In October 2018, Cheng pleaded guilty to drink driving and the court sentenced him to a week in jail and a driving ban of three years.[26]

References / Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. "Lincoln Cheng". International Music Summit. September 3, 2015. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.internationalmusicsummit.com/ims_speakers/lincoln-cheng/
  2. Yeo Suxuan, Teo Yan Ling, Goh Min Yi Amanda, Sim Rong Yi. “LINCOLN CHENG (ZOUK CLUB)”. Famous Asian Leaders. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: http://top5leaders.blogspot.com/2013_07_01_archive.html
  3. “Cheng Lincoln”. LinkedIn. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cheng-lincoln-13073412/
  4. Johnstone, Henry. “LINCOLN CHENG - THE ZOUK STORY”. Pulseradio. May 31, 2012. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://pulseradio.net/articles/2012/05/lincoln-cheng-the-zouk-story
  5. Wong Kim Moh. "King of clubs". The Straits Times. August 26, 2014. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/king-clubs
  6. Nurul Azliah. “Secret to Zouk’s longevity? Building a strong following before club exists”. Yahoo Lifestyle. December 12, 2014. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://sg.style.yahoo.com/blogs/singapore-showbiz/secret-to-zouk-s-longevity--building-a-strong-following-before-club-exists-162612754.html
  7. International Music Summit. “IMS Asia-Pacific 2014: Keynote Interview - Lincoln Cheng”. YouTube. February 25, 2015. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrCeBumrO3k
  8. Lee, Jocelyn. “Zouk’s long-serving toilet aunty gets vomited on so many times , she’s used to it”. The Newpaper. November 3, 2015. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore-news/zouks-long-serving-toilet-aunty-gets-vomited-so-many-times-shes-used-it
  9. Lam, Lydia. "6 things about Zouk as it hosts final party at Jiak Kim premises". The Straits Times. December 3, 2016. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/6-things-about-zouk-as-it-hosts-final-party-at-jiak-kim-premises
  10. Johnstone, Henry. “LINCOLN CHENG - THE ZOUK STORY”. Pulseradio. May 31, 2012. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://pulseradio.net/articles/2012/05/lincoln-cheng-the-zouk-story
  11. "Zouk Phuture Signage". Roots.sg. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://roots.sg/Roots/learn/collections/listing/1381409
  12. Kok, Melissa. "Different place, same Zouk". The Straits Times. July 3, 2015. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/different-place-same-zouk
  13. Tan, Athena. "Zouk's Greatest Hits and Milestones". Red Bull. May 10, 2016. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.redbull.com/sg-en/zouk%E2%80%99s-greatest-hits-and-milestones
  14. Tan, Athena. "Zouk's Greatest Hits and Milestones". Red Bull. May 10, 2016. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.redbull.com/sg-en/zouk%E2%80%99s-greatest-hits-and-milestones
  15. Zaki Jufri. "Musician Dave Tan to make 'Mambo Jambo' documentary film". insing.com. May 27, 2015. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.insing.com/feature/musician-dave-tan-to-make-mambo-jambo-documentary-film/id-03713101/
  16. "Mambo Jambo". discogs. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.discogs.com/Various-Mambo-Jambo/release/11636461
  17. Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman. "Mambo Jambo Memories". The New Paper. December 1, 2016. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/mambo-jambo-memories
  18. Lim, Joyce. "Zouk may shut by year end". The Straits Times. June 18, 2014. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/zouk-may-shut-by-year-end
  19. Zaki Jufri. "Musician Dave Tan to make 'Mambo Jambo' documentary film". insing.com. May 27, 2015. Accessed on 18 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.insing.com/feature/musician-dave-tan-to-make-mambo-jambo-documentary-film/id-03713101/
  20. “Superclub, Zouk Singapore has found a new home!”. Luxe Society. July 8, 2015. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: http://luxesocietyasia.com/entertainment/superclub-zouk-singapore-has-found-a-new-home/
  21. Lim, Joyce. “Zouk being sold to Genting HK”. The Straits Times. October 21, 2015. Accessed on 19 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/zouk-being-sold-to-genting-hk
  22. “Zouk founder explains why he sold the club”. Sphrazor. June 20, 2016. Accessed on 19 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.razor.tv/video/zouk-founder-explains-why-he-sold-the-club/4800266888001/4840521172001
  23. International Music Summit. “IMS Asia-Pacific 2014: Keynote Interview - Lincoln Cheng”. YouTube. February 25, 2015. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrCeBumrO3k
  24. International Music Summit. “IMS Asia-Pacific 2014: Keynote Interview - Lincoln Cheng”. YouTube. February 25, 2015. Accessed on 19 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrCeBumrO3k
  25. Faris Mokhtar. “Zouk’s former owner gets one-week jail term for drink-driving”. Today. November 22, 2017. Accessed on 18 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/zouks-former-owner-gets-one-week-jail-drink-driving
  26. Faris Mokhtar. “Zouk’s former owner gets one-week jail term for drink-driving”. Today. November 22, 2017. Accessed on 18 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/zouks-former-owner-gets-one-week-jail-drink-driving