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Indie clubs support standardised curfew

City sees surge in nightclubs after yearlong lull as five discos liven the scene, but owners insist that like five stars they too deserve 3 am deadline

entertainment Updated: Mar 20, 2012 15:31 IST
Serena Menon

This year, dancing has returned to Mumbai’s nightlife scene. Even as the state proposes to make 1.30 am the new deadline for nightclubs in five star hotels, instead of 3 am, popular spots, like Polly Esther’s which was closed for eight months, have reopened. New entrants like LIV in Kala Ghoda and Rude Lounge in Bandra have sprung up. Even Shilpa Shetty’s suburban club Royalty, which was forced to shut a day after its opening party, is back in business under the new co-ownership of Bollywood actor Sohail Khan.

Party-hoppers, meanwhile, are thrilled to have more than just a few options to pick from. College student Nikita Sethna, whose top party destinations are Royalty, Tryst, Hype and Prive, elaborates, “It gets monotonous to go back to the same place. Now, we have a larger list to look forward to on a nightout.” Natasha Kharadi, who studies at Jai Hind College in Churchgate, says, “The music remains the same at all the places, so the only excitement is different clubs.” After a nine-year-long run in Bandra, the owners of retro club Hawaiian Shack decided to expand, opening a branch in Juhu three months ago. “Things are looking up in comparison to 2011. But if we compare it to what the scene was 15 years ago, we’ve regressed,” says Sheen Lalwani, co-owner of Hawaiian Shack.

However, bring up the situation with clubs in five star hotels, and the owners of standalone joints fume. “Why should they get to stay open until 3 am when we’re not given that license? It’s not like they have fewer brawls or better security. People would rather go to clubs that are open later, and that’s an undue advantage for them,” says an agitated Sunny Sara, co-owner of LIV. Sadhna Lalwani, Sheen’s mother and co-owner of the Shack adds, “The government needs to realise the importance of a thriving nightlife scene — positive aspects like tourism and money. When that happens, things will change.”

Nightlife Upgrade 101
1. Polly Esthers, Colaba
2. LIV, Kala Ghoda
3. Hawaiian Shack, Juhu
4. Royalty, Bandra
5. Rude Lounge, Bandra

‘Hippies would chill as music played on the streets’
Fifty-two-year old Sadhna Lalwani, co-owner of one of city’s oldest standalone nightclubs Hawaiian Shack, recalls the time when Mumbai was party central and the discotheque scene truly flourished.

What are your best memories of the city’s nightlife?
The ’80s. There were so many discos — at The Oberoi, Sea Rock and near the airport. In Colaba, people would play music on the streets and groups of hippies would just hang out past midnight. Clubs were open till 4 am, after which we would head to a five star hotel lobby till it was time to go home. Mumbai was safer then. I remember hitching lifts often. That time was the best. Today’s scene can’t be compared. The Shack has defied a usual disco shelf life of 1.5 years. That’s also because we don’t increase the prices. If we do, we’ll shut in two years. People don’t accept price rise that well.

Views about the move to standardise deadlines?
Ideally, all places should stay open till 3 am. Working people finish work at 9 pm and get to clubs by 11 pm. Then they have only two hours to party. That gives us just a couple of hours to make money.