Next time you go shopping at your favourite store, you may be in for quite an earful. With Mumbai’s nightlife scene hitting an all-time low of late, the revelries seem to have shifted to an alternative venue — retail outlets.
Last month, international clothing company, Bestseller, which owns brands like Vero Moda, Only and Jack & Jones, hosted a jam night, titled All Star Jamm, featuring some of the biggest names in the Indian music circuit. One of the organisers, actor Sameer Malhotra, better known by the moniker Daddy, says, “The idea was to get an eclectic crowd together. I wanted to do something different. So we got thought of bringing some of the best acts together for one night.”
In tow with this invite-only, monthly affair, sports brand Puma recently organised a gig celebrating analog sound at Mehboob Studio. The gig was to launch Puma Loves Vinyl, an LP featuring seven Indian indie acts. In the coming months, the shoe label is set to bring the gigs into their stores in Delhi and Mumbai.
“After the success of the Bandra gig, which saw a large turnout, we’ll host smaller gigs with bands featured on the vinyl record at our stores,” says Rajiv Mehta, MD, Puma, India. The monthly gigs at the stores are slated to begin from July, and will go on until the end of the year.
I did a gig after the store closing time
The newest gig haunts are not just good news for musicians. Last week, popular stand-up comedian Papa CJ got an unlikely audience at Allen Solly’s Bangalore outlet. “I did a 40-minute gig after the store closing time,” says the Delhi-based comedian, adding that the celebrations carried on till the 11 pm deadline. And while Malhotra agrees that the concept of bringing a party to a shop may seem bizarre at first, CJ seems quite at ease performing next to suited mannequins.
He adds, “I have performed on a plane, in a bus, in a lift, in a mosque, in a hospital emergency ward (while holding the head of a girl getting stitches), in a police station, in an operation theatre while a doctor performed a C-section and delivered a baby, in a church, in a boat. So well, nothing surprises me now.” However, with the crackdown on nightlife now not even sparing house parties, are the organisers wary of publicising their event?
“We spend as much as Rs 1 lakh on just the required licenses for this event. It’s a private party of sorts, since we aren’t charging anyone anything,” clarifies Malhotra. With over 600 partygoers managing to find their way into the store this month, ask him if overcrowding is a pressing concern, and he says, “The place is as big as any club or bar in town. These 600 people were spread across the mammoth 20,000 square feet store, so I guess we are far from overcrowding,” adding that the gig goes on only till the 1 am deadline.
With alcohol sponsors on board, brands like Allen Solly and Vero Moda offer revellers a heady experience pro bono. “Allen Solly is known for its ‘Friday Dressing’ campaign, and our ‘Start Me Up Fridays’ comedy night is just a way of getting people to unwind,” says Suraj Bhatt, brand manager, who plans to spread the humour to Delhi and Mumbai in the coming months.
And while the city’s high-heeled can be seen striding into these unique party spaces, ask Malhotra how regular junta can find their place on the guest list and he says, “We usually don’t refuse. But you can try getting in by befriending the bands or well, just shop at Vero Moda till the time the store shuts and stick around.”
First concept store
Provogue Lounge (PL) was one of the first popular concept stores in Mumbai. Located inside Phoenix Mills in Lower Parel, PL doubled as a casual clothes store in the day and a restaurant-lounge in the evenings. Entry used to be free before 8 pm, which is why it attracted a lot of college crowd. To the dismay of most partygoers, the club shut down a few years ago.