Last Saturday business development manager, Aleema Seadath (29), went to Prive with a group of friends. Despite being smartly dressed, her group was told that entry was on guest list only. It was the second time she had tried to get into the elite Colaba club and failed. “They need to be more transparent."
Even if you call them, they don’t put you on the guest list. If they want me to take a table reservation, I will. I’m not bothered even if it costs me Rs 25,000,” she says.
Nick Cunard, a British expat (38), was not allowed into the lounge, Shiro, in Lower Parel, a month ago. “We were part of a large mixed group, but they singled me and another guy out as stags. They said they had had problems in the past with single men. It was as though we looked like we were going to molest women. It’s persecution,” he laments.
Umang Shah (28), a telecom consultant, has been turned away twice from Escobar in Bandra. The first time it was because of his “high-end leather open footwear,” he says. The second time he was in closed leather shoes, and with a woman.
“We were made to wait next to the elevator and were not allowed inside. After 20 minutes, we gave up and left. I drive a nice car, it’s not as though I turned up in a rickshaw,” he says.
Entry on status
After three of PR professional Ranjit Rodricks’ friends were not allowed into Escobar, one of whom is a Bollywood fashion designer, he put the scene up on his Facebook status.
“They were told it was too crowded, but some people in the elevator with them were allowed in,” he complains. The PR promptly contacted him and apologised.
Vardhaman Choksi, owner of Escobar, claims that people are only turned away when the club is genuinely full.Those getting in are on the guest list, regular faces, or people who have made a reservation.
“It’s very simple, we typically don’t allow people the minute we have reached choc-a-bloc stage, as that will affect our service. On weekdays, people won’t face problems. We encourage people to dress smartly because a lot of people who come here are very high profile,” he adds.
Men are not allowed to wear sleeveless T shirts, shorts or chappals (slippers).“We don’t care what brands people wear, provided they don’t come in their gymwear. Although sneakers are allowed,” he continues.
Indian dress too is allowed, as are hats and caps.But then anyone who is found arguing with the bouncers will not be allowed inside, he says.Prive too judges people on how they behave at the gate.
“Sometimes I make people wait for 15 minutes just so I can judge their attitude,” adds Samir Chhabria, business head of Prive. He is looking for people who are classy, used to nightclubs and well-travelled.
“A lot of people name drop. I have had people come up to me and say, ‘I know Samir Chhabria’ and I have said, ‘Really... well, that’s me and I don’t know who you are’.”
Be wealthy or stay out
Walk-ins are not encouraged on Saturdays, when it is members, their guests and guest list only. To get on the guest list, you need to know one of the directors.
“If you are known at the gate, or have been to Prive a lot with members in the past and we know you are a big spender and not a problem creator, we will let you in,” he says.
But if you are not, then you better be dressed stylishly.Even members, who pay Rs 95,000 a year, will not be allowed in, if they are not properly dressed.
Women are judged on their shoes, bag, and “who they are hanging with”.“You don’t necessarily have to be carrying a Prada bag, but you need to be elegant... Jeans are ok if you look stylish.”
A man is judged on the brand of his jeans, his watch, shoes and belt.“If the jeans are Rock and Republic, True Religion or 7 for all Mankind, then you know that that person knows style and you can let them in.“I spend six months training the staff on the Internet so they learn to recognise brands like Dolce and Gabanna,” Chhabria admits.
Only in Prada
T-shirts on men are not encouraged unless they are very high-end. For men, sneakers are forbidden, even if they are Prada, as are slippers.
Sandals are allowed for women, provided they are not Kolhapuri, Chhabria says. Full Indian dresses are allowed, provided they are not “fused” with jeans.“Wearing a Rs 20 lakh watch helps,” he continues.
China House does not allow women or men in ripped jeans, in three quarter trousers or open footwear. But Indian dresses, baseball caps and sneakers are allowed. Stags are discouraged on Saturdays and Fridays, says Vijayan Gangadharan, director of food and beverage at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai.
“Provided people adhere to the dress code, there are no restrictions,” he says. But he points out if the club is packed, they give preference to regulars, those who have booked booths and in-house guests. And if they do have to select from couples standing outside, they will choose people “similar to those inside, so that the people inside feel comfortable,” he says.