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Nocturnal Mumbai

Friday, July 06, 2018
Pics courtesy: Khar Social and Todi Mill Social

Mumbai’s vibrant nightlife offers a plethora of options to suit all budgets, says Tanmaya Vyas, as she raises a toast to the city

The true character of the city is seen at night. This is particularly the case in metros, where people let themselves loose after long days at work, in closed air-conditioned cubicles. Mumbai’s nightlife has evolved from once-in-a-month outings with family and friends to planning nights out almost every weekend. Discotheques have given way to lounge bars across the city.

In the past, spending capacity was limited and the focus was often on saving for rainy days. The current generation, however, lives with the motto of YOLO (You Only Live Once), and several youngsters think nothing of spending phenomenal amounts on going out. The obsession of this generation to be seen everywhere and ‘Instagrammed’ everywhere has had a direct and proportional effect on the growth of nightlife.

From lounges to fine dining to gaming zones to clubbing, Mumbai offers a plethora of spots suitable for families or a group of friends. The belt from Churchgate to Lower Parel has some of the choicest lounges and fine-dine restaurants. As you move towards Bandra and the further Western suburbs the glamour quotient increases, given the proximity to tinsel town.

The nightspots range from the no-cost Marine Drive to places like Dome, Intercontinental or Wasabi, a Japanese fine dine restaurant, where dinner for two can reportedly cost `12,000. Sitting by the Marine Drive or Worli Sea Face or star-gazing till mid-night costs you nothing, but is still a memorable experience.

Every eatery or ‘hang-out place’ has well-packaged offers to lure customers. Live music, discounted rates on liquor, Bollywood dance nights, Ladies special Night… there is a deal of some sort for everyone, and such places are rarely empty.

Mumbai’s nightlife, however, has so far had a curfew time of around 1.15 a.m.   Now, hopefully, things are set to change. BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wants Mumbaikars and tourists to enjoy the nightlife for longer hours, considering the recent proposal about keeping 31 malls and four public spots open 24/7. Recently, Civic Chief Ajoy Mehta wrote a letter to the Police Commissioner seeking their opinion and suggestions about this proposal. According to section 11 of Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Service Condition) Act, 2017, shops and malls could be kept open 24/7. This clause, however does not permit bars and restaurants serving alcohol.

A growth in nightlife could rake in phenomenal money for vendors, but while this will lead to an increase in footfalls, some worry that security and safety will be issues, despite malls and shopping centres being gated properties.

Drawing parallels with the West, almost every major city with a colourful nightlife, be it Amsterdam, Paris, Munich or New York has a system of Night Mayors, vigilantes to monitor the bustling nights. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, appointed the city’s first ‘Night Czar’ in 2016, to be “a much needed ambassador for the city after dark” in Khan’s own words. Thus, Amy Lame was appointed to oil a nightlife economy worth £25-30 billion.

In Mumbai, however, it would be an added responsibility for the already over-worked police force. Despite Mumbai being known as one of the safer cities in India, security, particularly for women, cannot be overlooked. As Joaquim Boads De Quintana – Secretary General of International Nightlife Association, agrees: “Although the situation has improved, I believe there is a long way to go till we achieve our goal. Hence in our 'security seals' women’s safety is a topic of prime importance.”

Joaquin D’Souza, Manager, Khar Social says, “Mumbai has amazing potential for a better nightlife. However, the stringent time limit of 1.15 a.m. to shut shop limits the audiences, as usually people want to continue clubbing till the wee hours of morning. We at Social are extremely particular about safety. We also make sure to verify the age of patrons with ID cards. Also, as a safety measure, we don’t allow stag entry at all post 7 pm and if a man wants entry he needs to be accompanied by a woman, which makes other women feel secure.”

While there are such challenges that will need to be met, if Mumbai does, indeed, stay open 24/7, it could soon be in the league of places like Paris and New York. Let’s raise a toast to that!

Short takes

  • Among the 31 malls that will be allowed to be open 24/7 are Phoenix Market City, Kurla, High Street Phoneix, Lower Parel, Infinity Mall, Malad, Globus Mall, Bandra and Oberoi Mall, Goregaon
  • The four hotspots that may remain open 24/7 are areas at Churchgate, Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, the airport and the Gateway of India.
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