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Take Back The Night

Friday, June 24, 2016

It’s known as the city that never sleeps — but where’s everyone going after the sun goes down? The Mumbai Mix Team takes a look at a few nightclubs around the city and asks people about their idea of a night out and if they’re still club-hopping

If you had spoken to us seven or eight years ago, we would have had several firsthand accounts to share with you. But, while Mumbai is still alive and buzzing after hours, it’s been a topsy-turvy ride, to say the least. With earlier closing times, lounges and fine dining restaurants replacing nightclubs, and seating space taking over large dance floors, club culture has taken a bit of a hit over the years. But, has it recently been given a new lease of life? Are nightclubs coming back on to the scene? Did they ever really leave or were they only snuffed out for a short while?

Shake a leg
Latenight Mumbai is an entity that works as a guide (with a very strong presence on social media) for people who are looking for ideas about what to do after hours. Co-founders Eshita Dharia and Pawan Shahri tell us, “Nightclubs are about more than just dancing and drinking. They’re a place to network, socialise and meet new people.” Since they’re open when most other establishments in the city have shut shop, they help people find a place to unwind, shake a leg or just have a drink. There’s also the VIP and VVIP tables, which, if you’ve ever been to a club, add a very different vibe to a space that’s often lost in the clutter at bars. “In fact, people end up spending two to three lakhs between ten to fifteen people at VIP tables at high-end places,” Eshita and Pawan add. Cringing already? Love them or hate them, they don’t seem to be going anywhere!

What’s the difference?
So, what’s the big deal anyway — apart from the large dance floors and disco lights? “Services like the Champagne Shower, where five servers bring you a bottle of champagne each, with fire sparklers in tow, are things you will see nowhere else but at a nightclub,” the duo tell us.

But today, with so many bars and lounges entering the picture, the space may be merging just a little bit. Though, as Eshita and Pawan tell us, “Bars and lounges are very different, and the target audience for both varies too. However, this could also be a debatable topic, as we’ve seen bars and lounges such as Social, Hoppipola, Bar Stock Exchange and Old Wild West host more people on a Saturday at 1am than most clubs across the city do.”

This, of course, leads you to believe that it is about time we retired that nightclub culture, right? “It’s true that the demand for nightclubs seems to be dying. Increasingly, promoters and DJs are being booked by bars on weekends, in order to pull in a crowd. Also, we’ve heard people talk about how it’s better to visit a place with more understated music, so that it’s easier to make conversation,” they add.

What people think
With an increase in the number of bars and lounges, the popularity of nightclubs seems to be decreasing. Do people in the city think so too? And, if they’re still visiting clubs, where are they going? Zeba Merchant, a 26-year-old marketing manager, tells us, “I visit nightclubs regularly over the weekend — sometimes even on weekdays with colleagues! But, they are losing popularity because there’s one around every corner now. Another problem is that a lot of these places have unsavoury crowds. Though, on the bright side, while they were a place once reserved for the rich, they are now becoming more affordable. I love Alibi, since it is located in Colaba and hosts a lot of glamorous and exclusive parties, and Hyper, because the music there is really good.”

29-year-old Manchal Jain does not frequent nightclubs as often as Zeba, but also gets her dancing shoes on once every three months or so. However, she’s seen the quality of nightlife decline over the years. “Nightclubs used to be a lot of fun, because they played great music (I loved the Bollywood beats) and had looser deadlines. Today, you get less time in a club if you visit it after dinner, because they close earlier, making it a pointless trip. Also, the EDM and House music that every club now plays doesn’t appeal to me, and I miss my old favourites. Poison, in Bandra, used to be my favourite — mainly because of the music, DJ Aqeel and the fun vibe,” she says.

Does Pranav think that nightclubs are a good place to visit? The 26-year-old brand strategist loves them for their music. But, with commercial music taking over and restrictions getting more stringent, it’s becoming harder to stay loyal to the nightclub. “There needs to be a push to encourage new talent and a reduction in the prices,” he tells us, adding that his favourite club is Old Wild West in Lower Parel because, in his own words, “I love the mechanical rodeo bull, the food and the music, which is amazing!”

Royalty and Li Bai get a thumbs up from 26-year-old features writer Zahra Motorwala, who tells us, “I think they’re great places to party at on Friday and Saturday nights. I think that they are losing out to lounge bars because the latter are more comfortable and most of them play really cool music too, just in case you want to dance in the middle of your meal. Also, nightclubs today are often filled with brash, loud youngsters — they could make me feel old! A while ago, Alibi used to be my favourite club because it was close by and played really good music.”

If you don’t think lounge bars are ruling the roost and still want a nightclub experience, try hitting up one of these recommendations. And, if you need more, flip over to page 15 to see where else you can go for a fun night out in the city!

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