SOME YOU CAN get invited to only via SMS or e-mail; others are announced on flyers in a few select venues around town. Welcome to the world of independent parties, which are all the rage with Singapore's clued-in clubbers. Although indie nights are nothing new in the Lion City, they've become increasingly more frequent in recent months. Themed parties are held in existing venues or more unusual locations, such as an old warehouse or a rooftop car park. With names such as Pop My Cherry, Poptart, Sonar, Guerilla and Subversive, these parties are catering for niche markets with specialised musical tastes, yet still attract the regular crowd of party-goers. 'The events are basically quite random and on the edge - cozy, intimate, friendly and with good tunes,' says Cherry Chan, who's organised six small Pop My Cherry parties - a platform for female DJs - since she started last September. The three Musique Vondue parties that she also organised are best described as an experimental music night with glitch (a genre of electronic music) and intelligent dance music (IDM). 'I think independent nights have been a bit of a backlash against what's happened over the past two years on the nightlife scene,' says Adrian Wee, who organises the Poptart parties. 'The new clubs are getting bigger and I get a feeling there's a general unease, especially from the more experienced, older clubbers. The clubs have lost their intimacy.' Most of these independent nights were started by DJs and musicians 'who couldn't find what they wanted', says Yeow Tan, a musician and founder of Chemistry Team, which organises indie parties based on music genres. 'Most clubs tend to go for foreign DJs, a formula set by Zouk [widely considered a pioneer of the Singapore club scene]. But those days are over. Now it's more about intimate parties and getting your friends together. The secret of the success of these nights is really in the database. A kind of personalised invite, as opposed to a mass mailing.' Chemistry Team organises regular Sonar parties, which offer house music with DJs and musicians playing dance tunes made popular from Rio to Ibiza, as well as Double Z parties, a take on the new jazz vibe, with a mix of soul, funk, reggae and broken beats. Venues are constantly changing. 'We're always roaming around because the whole idea is to keep it fresh and inspiring,' Tan says. 'Sometimes we'll use club venues, sometimes the beach.' He says he has a mailing list of about 2,000 people, but only 200 to 300 people show up at any given time, depending on the type of music played. The taste for smaller, more exclusive parties hasn't escaped the notice of the big club owners, who are cashing in on the trend by catering to specific musical tastes. In the past couple of months, three large venues have opened: Onyx, which specialises in progressive house and trance sounds; DXO, a large clubhouse at the Esplanade, which is quickly building a name by bringing in big international DJs such as Boy George, Steve Angello, Lo Fidelity Allstars and Stephan K; and the newest kid on the block, Club MOMO, whose atmosphere is reminiscent of Zouk, but which is hoping to position itself as a true Singapore club. 'We want to show tourists what a true Singaporean club is, and how locals here party,' says Club MOMO managing director John Lee. 'Zouk is more of an international club, like the ones in London or New York. We give you the music Singaporeans enjoy, we give you local beers, we give you value for money.' In the past 18 months, Singapore's nightlife has undergone a transformation. Zouk and the now-defunct Centro and Mohamed Sultan Road venues used to dominate the scene. Centro and its smaller sister Lola, as well as the Embassy Club at the Esplanade all closed down last summer after running into financial difficulties. 'For a few months, there was nothing - now suddenly we've had three openings within a few weeks of each other,' says Gary Kitching, editor of I-S Magazine, a free, weekly lifestyle, entertainment and nightlife magazine. 'People already have so much choice, with the small clubs, indie parties, Zouk and one-off parties that you have to ask: 'Who will survive?'. 'When Centro and Embassy closed, Zouk didn't see any spillover, which indicates there are people out there who've found their niche,' Kitching says. 'The success of all these clubs will really depend on their ability to build a loyal following.' The trend among smaller clubs is to offer themed nights to cater for different tastes. For example, Thursday night at Happy, the gay club du jour, is Rear Entry night, while Saturday at the Liquid Room is Ghetto Blaster night with R&B. 'People want to feel they belong to a group,' Wee says. 'That's why they have those themed nights which attract like-minded people.' Larger clubs are offering clubs within a club. For example, Zouk has the upmarket Velvet Underground, a members-only venue, and Phuture, which caters to the young and funky crowd. 'The Singapore clubs are just streets above the Hong Kong club scene,' Kitching says. 'They're far better. They offer a total, integrated experience.'