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SGP 2018: An Exclusive Interview with Amber Lounge Founder Sonia Irvine

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Race season is upon us again as the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix returns this weekend. Set to be a glitzy, adrenaline-fuelled event once again as the city is filled with activity, excitement and countless unforgettable events to commemorate the 11th year of the night race. Amongst these is the annual Amber Lounge, no doubt the most lux, sought after afterparty in race season. The brainchild of it all is Monaco resident Sonia Irvine. We spoke to her to find out more about its origins, what to expect from it, and why it remains the number one event for the elite of the social scene to be seen at each and every year.

Bakchormeeboy: How was the Amber Lounge first conceptualized, and what was the intent of creating it?

Sonia: I started in Formula 1 as my brother Eddie’s physio, then as Ferrari’s team physio. I was constantly socializing with other F1 drivers, team principals and team sponsors. We all worked so hard during a Grand Prix weekend we wanted to celebrate and let our hair down at the end of it, but there never seemed to be one communal place where everyone could enjoy themselves. The idea of setting-up a classy, fun place to party and celebrate the races all together came to me. It was important to me that the party was a media-free zone so everyone could really relax. I decided to give the concept a try in Monaco 2003, and it was a huge success. So Amber Lounge was born and we’ve been entertaining an incredible range of guests for over 15 years. From the very start the demand was there from the F1 fraternity and celebrities, so our parties continued, becoming world-famous. Amber Lounge has travelled the globe with Formula 1 and become a haven for drivers, celebrities and royalty to experience an unforgettable night. Our unique, exclusive, VIP atmosphere, incredible entertainment and being the original F1 party, hosting around 1000 guests per night, is what has made our parties legendary.

Bakchormeeboy: The Amber Lounge is considered the place to be seen and to be in attendance each year. How has the organizing team ensured that each year exceeds the last and continue to wow attendees? 

Sonia: With each year we raise the bar even higher and we’re always thinking of ideas and new ways to enhance our guests’ experience. I love what we are doing and with each year the motivation to have a better, more entertaining event is well shown as our guests are delighted and are really enjoying themselves. Working with a team of top professionals, who are smart and reliable is also vital to achieving success.

Bakchormeeboy: What was the basis behind choosing to incorporate local fashion into the Amber Lounge? How does the Amber Lounge see itself as supporting the local scene in this regard?

Sonia: I have always wanted to help people in need. I used to run a physio department for stroke and Alzheimer patients. I loved elderly care and gerontology. Nothing is as satisfying as getting a stroke patient to stand or take a step for the first time. I started the Fashion Show with the aim of being able to give back to causes that were close to my heart. Since 2006, the first of our Fashion Shows, the prominent Amber Lounge brand is used to raise awareness and much-needed money for noble causes. For the Amber Lounge Singapore Fashion Show and silent auction we are very proud to be once again raising funds in aid of “Make-A-Wish Singapore”, a non-profit which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. On the catwalk local designers Nida Shay and Q Menswear and showcasing their collections so you’ll see drivers and international models displaying these.

Creating the Fashion Show is the thing I am most proud of because I see people willing to help our cause and donate funds for the different charity campaigns we have had in the past, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Special Olympics.

Bakchormeeboy: Given the glitz, glamour and number of high-profile people who have graced it over the years, what has been one of your most memorable moments or events from the Lounge over the years?

Sonia: Jenson Button’s World Championship win was really special. His Dad was there, everyone was ecstatic and Ross Braun opened up one of our Methusalem bottles for him. For a small team to achieve something like that was just incredible.

Nico Rosberg’s win in Abu Dhabi 2016… all team came to Amber Lounge and a lot of drivers joined him to celebrate. He was so popular, that was just an unbelievable night.

Our very first Amber Lounge (2003) with Bono, Flavio (Briatore), Rod Stewart, Heidi Klum and Price Albert with massive entourage and so many more. For our first party to have so many amazing celebrities, I was just speechless.

An important highlight at every event to have the support of HSH Prince Albert of Monaco and the F1 fraternity without whom none of this would be possible.

Bakchormeeboy: How do you hope the Amber Lounge will continue to grow and develop as one of the F1 Night Race’s premier events in the years to come? Is there any particular unprecedented aspect you hope to incorporate into the Lounge in future?

Sonia: We’ve had some great opportunities to expand to other sports outside of F1. I think the world is as exciting as you make it and we want to spread the euphoric Amber Lounge parties and hospitality experiences far and wide. There are a few exciting new concepts for expansion in the pipeline but you’ll have to wait and see.

There’s no doubt we want to continue to strive for greatness in regards to providing the ultimate F1 After Parties and hospitality experiences for many years to come. We are also working hard on our activities outside F1 where the skills learned in F1 we take across to these private events. One thing’s for sure, we don’t ever want the parties to stop.

The Amber Lounge will open on 15th and 16th September 2018. Entry available for purchase here The 2018 F1 Singapore Grand Prix takes place from 14th to 16th September at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Tickets available here

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