In Praise of the Early Evening Bash: Inside A 5-10PM Party
All images by Xue Qi Ow Yeong for RICE Media

I haven’t gone out in a hot minute. I mean, I’ve left the house. But when it comes to parties, my last outing to Club Hell sometime last year left me a little worse for wear: puking my guts out at my void deck at 5 AM and incapacitated the entire weekend. 

As I approach 30 this year, I’ve reached the stage in life where I’m tired all the time. I do want to party. But I also want to get home at a reasonable time and be in bed before the wee hours. 

It’s almost an unspoken rule that most parties and music events tend to start and end late. Clubs only see people start streaming in at 11 PM. Events like EMONIGHTSG stretch from 10 PM to 3:30 AM. 

But why? Instagram meme accounts like Milotruckdreams and other clubbers have challenged this status quo before, campaigning for clubs to open much earlier at 7:30 PM. 

“I just wanna have a lil dance to some tunes. Tomorrow still got work leh,” reads part of Milotruckdreams’ rant. 

I share the same predilections. Is that too much to ask? 

It’s bad enough that the typical 40-hour work week here—that number doesn’t include time spent commuting—leaves most workers with little leisure time on weekdays. And when the weekend rolls around, it’s time to run errands we’ve put off during the week. It almost seems inevitable that parties and raves slowly peter out as the responsibilities of adult life pile up.   

Maybe I’m trying to hold on to simpler times before my job dictated my schedule, or maybe I’m trying to escape from my exceedingly stressful life. Either way, a little party never killed anybody. 

Enter Sunday Mess, a 5 PM to 10 PM affair organised by DJ collective 5210PM. The group promises “no loud music after 10 PM”—a winning proposition for this ageing millennial. 

Sunday Mess 5210PM parties party Singapore

Bedroom DJs Turned Seasoned Party Organisers

Ahead of Sunday Mess on April 21, I spoke to Javan Poh, the DJ crew’s founder, and Aloysius Tan, one of the resident DJs.

We rendezvous at Gourmet Park, a casual restaurant below the event space, where the 5210PM team is fuelling up for the party.

While their name and event format are synonymous, they tell me that 5210PM actually came about in their bedroom DJ days. They would gather in each other’s houses to record YouTube sets and would have to wrap things up by 10 PM so they could take public transport home. 

Javan (DJ name Juhvunnn) says, “It’s actually funny because when we first got hired for a gig, it was 4 PM to 10 PM. And a lot of people asked why we didn’t just stick to our name.”

Sunday Mess is the group’s passion project. As Aloysius (DJ name Loyboy) puts it, “Sunday Mess is a party where everyone is invited. It’s always a surprise, even for us. If you ask us to put a finger on what we sound like… we ain’t got a clue.”

No two Sunday Messes are alike, but the common thread is that they’re each held every couple of months at unique locations like artsy coffee joint Puck Provisions and wine bar Nothing Fancy. 

A party to stave off the pre-work week jitters (also known as Sunday scaries) sounds like a godsend. But surprisingly—for me at least—it isn’t millennials flocking to the event.

Loyboy says more than half of their usual partygoers are Gen Z, and roughly 30 percent are millennials.

5210PM aren’t the first to organise parties that end before the last train. Popular party collective Ice Cream Sundays usually holds parties that run from 3 PM to 10:30 PM.

In fact, Juhvunnn says they were initially reluctant to start organising their own parties as it was already a saturated space in Singapore. Nevertheless, looking at how Sunday Mess has grown, they must be doing something right.

When they first started Sunday Mess, they saw a turnout of around 70 to 80 pax. Now that they’re on to their fifth edition, the number’s grown to 120 pax. 

And they’ve caught the attention of others in the scene. Alt-gps, a platform spotlighting the subculture and party scene in Singapore, says 5210PM is “pushing the boundaries of traditional house and techno”. 

The group has also been featured in local music blog Life In Arpeggio, which has high praise for them: “…you can see the care in their curation with their programming, customised décor elements, professional photography and marketing know-how that would put complacent promoters to shame.”

What’s clear is that 5210PM is young and new to the scene, but they have a strong knack for what they do. 

Despite Sunday Mess’s growing popularity, Loyboy says they aren’t looking to scale up. In fact, they might hold it less frequently. Most of the team are students aged between 20 and 25. Between securing venues, promoting the event, and decorating the space, it’s not an easy endeavour. 

But they’ve put in the work to make each event happen because they’re each passionate about what they do, Juhvunnn says. Loyboy works on the soundboard and Juhvunnn handles the set production. The team also consists of DJs Lysanne Tan (L.T.L.X.) and Atiq Iman (Dangdude), as well as media and marketing duo Irish Gayle and Oh Kelly. Kelly’s currently on exchange in Australia, but the close-knit team Facetimes her just so she can be in the group photo we’re taking. 

The group traipses upstairs to prep for the event. The blazing sun hasn’t even set yet, but I’m already excited for my first party in a while. 

5210PM DJs LTLX juhvunnn loyboy dangdude
From left to right: Gayle, Kelly (on Facetime) L.T.L.X., Juhvunnn, Loyboy, and Dangdude.

5 PM: Early Birds

A steady percussive beat welcomes me, my photographer Xue Qi, and my partner Shane (here for moral support) as we enter the event space at 66 Kampong Bugis. Javan signs us in and slaps wristbands on us. 

“You’re the third ones to arrive,” he tells us.  

Indeed, the dance floor is only populated by the 5210 team and one other guy. He moves to the music, unperturbed. 

DJ LTLX Sunday Mess 5210PM parties

It’s still bright outside, but DJ L.T. L.X gets things started with some solid house music. Behind her, trees sway as raindrops start to fall. Inside, breezy bits of cloth draped from the ceiling and fake plants evoke a Bali beach club. It’s a vibe. 

We’re too sober—in hindsight, we should probably have pregamed—so we get our first drinks. Drink coupons are $20 per booklet. But most of the beers and cocktails are about $14 to $16 apiece. It’s too much math to figure out how many booklets we should buy just so we don’t have any coupons left over, so we end up buying about four booklets. 

We are gobsmacked to see kids sporting earmuffs dancing along to the beat. Loyboy certainly wasn’t lying when he said Sunday Mess was a party for everyone.  

Sunday Mess 5210PM parties party Singapore

6 PM: No Shame in Warming the Benches 

Honestly, we’re still waiting for things to get more exciting. More drinks are downed. Without the cover of darkness, we’re highly self-conscious. More people turn up, but some of them sit on the sidelines of the party with their friends. 

Even so, there’s no judgement in the air. Some people dance freely, others mill around, and some just lean back and listen to the music while scrolling on their phones. 

As Loyboy said, most of them look to be Gen Z. You can just tell by the way they dress: sunglasses indoors, baggy jeans, bleached highlights, Y2K-style accessories, and knee-high boots.

Our older millennial colleague Andre joins us and surprises us with his dance skills. He’s rave-ready, wearing a printed tank top and a holographic fanny pack. He looks unapologetically his age.

To be completely honest, before the event, I’d been afraid of looking too millennial (read: dated), but Andre’s arrival was a much-needed reminder that there’s nothing wrong with embracing it. 

7 PM: Good, Clean Fun

The sun begins to set, and it begins to look like a lot more of the parties I’m used to. Surprisingly, people aren’t really drinking. Most people appear to be here just for the vibes. It’s a welcome departure from the alcohol-heavy soirées I’ve been to at clubs. 

Enjoying great music for a few hours without getting wasted seems like a great way to spend a weekend, so I make a mental note to attend more of these parties. 

After tearing up the dance floor and putting the youngins to shame, Andre dips out for another party elsewhere. Things are still very tame when he leaves. There’s plenty of space still. 

DJ Loyboy juhvunnn 5210PM

Juhvunnn and Loyboy take over the turntable. The pair are a dynamic duo, working in tandem to hype up the crowd and mix tracks. They’re professional but also playful and goofy. As Juhvunnn works the turntable, Loyboy dances like no one is watching. 

8 PM: The Night Heats Up

Having been here since 5 PM, this is when I feel my social battery start to empty. Xue Qi, all of 25, also remarks that she’s “too old for this”. Nevertheless, we press on. 

Ironically, this is when the crowd gets better, perhaps because it’s darker and the dance floor isn’t as empty. Still, it’s very family-friendly. People are drinking, but nobody seems drunk. This isn’t where you’ll find people who want to get wasted. 

We start feeling like we should have come a little later. No matter, we’re here and no one’s going to stop us from enjoying the music from the safety of our bench.

We meet Tavia, 22, outside the venue on a smoke break. She tells us that she’s here with a friend who had an extra ticket. 

“The timing is really cool. It’s dark enough out that it has the same appeal [as other parties], but it’s a really convenient timing.”  

9 PM: The End Is Near

It finally seems like a proper party. The crowd seems aware that the music is going to end soon, so they’re extra excited. Even though they’ve been pretty quiet the entire time, they start cheering as new tracks come on. People also start actually dancing. 

J, 21, approaches our group to compliment Shane, who gets a massive ego boost at being called attractive. J also pronounces us “a very cute couple”. 

singapore parties

He says of the event: “Love the concept and love how chill it is.” He’s one of the earlycomers, so he’d know. He’d rate it a 7 out of 10, docking some points for the slightly inconvenient drink coupon system.

I decide to cosplay as a Gen Z kid, so I don Xue Qi’s shades to blend in. I get the appeal— besides looking younger (I hope), the dark shades in a dark room help cut out the self-consciousness. It’s just me, my drink, and the music. 

Guest DJ Helios XL—a fixture in the nightlife scene since 2010—brings the vibes to a fever pitch with more upbeat tunes. At the start of the night, everyone was a polite arm’s length away from each other. Social distancing, if you will. By this point, the crowd is packed shoulder to shoulder, and stretches from the DJ console to the back of the small room.

Helios XL singapore sunday mess parties

10 PM: That’s All Folks 

Helios XL closes the night with a little more groove, switching to ‘Scientists & Engineers’ by Killer Mike. 

The lights slowly come on. No announcement is needed. Everyone knows the party is over. The DJs get some cheers and several rounds of applause as the crowd files out of the room slowly. The most well-behaved club crowd ever? I think so.

Sunday Mess 5210PM parties party Singapore

The stars align, and I have a direct bus home. 40 minutes later, I’m back in my room. It still feels surreal that I enjoyed five full hours of dancing, drinking and music—and I managed to get home before midnight. 

Practical Partying

The morning after, I’m still tired. But no more than I usually am. But being able to get a proper night’s sleep makes all the difference between being hungover and being functional at work. 

Like it or not, Singapore’s all about productivity. Although this might not have been 5210PM’s original intention, a 5 PM to 10 PM party hits the sweet spot where one can enjoy hours of dancing and still show up to work the next day. 

singapore work office
The morning after.

For Gen Zs, Sunday Mess is simply reasonably timed fun. But for us millennials, it’s an opportunity to hold on to our youth while still being mindful of our adult responsibilities. 

Zouk and Attica used to be our rites of passage, but as more homegrown DJs move from clubs and bars to hold unique experiences like Sunday Mess, Ice Cream Sundays, and Bussy Temple, it feels like a rightful paradigm shift for our party scene.

For one, event organisers are realising there’s more to a good event than just finding a DJ and plonking them in a club. For another, it truly feels like anyone who wants to lose themselves in an infectious beat for a couple of hours is welcome. There aren’t prerequisites like restrictive club wear, money to blow on bottles, or staying up till the wee hours. 

Good music is good music, no matter the time of day. And it’s even better when you don’t have to book an expensive Grab home after. 

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