Around this time last year, the crackdown on Mumbai was underway. Angry at the situation, I remember discussing it with my then-editor, when she said to me that this ‘upheaval’ is a regular occurrence. Every now and then, the cops crack the whip and then settle down.
That’s exactly what happened. Except, last year’s clampdown left a lasting impact. It affected deadlines. Places that remained open clandestinely beyond 1.30 am started throwing guests out at 12.55 am at the expense of losing even loyal customers. Nightlife communities were abuzz with criticism. And earlier this month, they were irritated, yet again, with regard to Mumbai’s perpetual need for more discotheques.
Rumours about Hype (Worli) and Ghost (Colaba) shutting down circulated fast. People panicked. “There are hardly any places left!” someone told me on Twitter. The first club, apparently, is still functional; the second I’ve heard will reopen under new ownership soon. The outburst, like most, lasted for less than a beer.
Then on June 19, good news arrived. It’s hard to say whether this was a coincidence, but Colaba’s age-old nightclub, Polly Esther’s, decided to reopen right in the middle of this chaos. The highlight of the reopening, however, has to be it’s new 3 am deadline.
Earlier this week, when I posted a nostalgic message about the club on a Facebook page called SOS: Mumbai’s Nightlife, 85-odd ‘likes’ and comments poured in from as far as London.
A friend recalled the time when she partied there till 6 am. Others started making plans to go there again. Then someone who happened to check it out the night it opened burst everyone’s bubble, because he hated it. He said the crowd was terrible. And it probably wouldn’t have been so, if the city had more than just a handful of venues to pick from on a weekend.
Seven years ago, Polly Esther’s was one of the more decent nightclubs in town. Phoenix Mills was bursting at the seams with discos back then. The Colaba hotspot didn’t attract the hottest crowd in town, but it also didn’t succumb to playing Bollywood music; at least not until 2 am, after which song requests would uncontrollably increase.
In college then, our drill would start with pre-gaming at Gokul. We would move to Polly’s and then post the after-party snack at Bade Miya we would head to Marine Plaza. Our hostel gates didn’t open till 7 am and the coffee shop didn’t close for cleaning until 8 am. We had a system in place.
It’s hard to blame the venue for the quality of the crowd when the overall supply isn’t anywhere close to meeting the demand. But the fact that after a long time, a 3 am deadline has found its way back to Mumbai must mean that things are returning to normal. The country’s ‘nightlife capital’s’ version of normal, that is.