Party is over! Mumbai’s iconic Hawaiian Shack downs its shutters
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Party is over! Mumbai’s iconic Hawaiian Shack downs its shutters

The bar was known for its low prices, potted palms, bamboo interiors and music

mumbai Updated: Aug 26, 2017 15:13 IST
Dipanjan Sinha
Dipanjan Sinha
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Hawaiian Shack,Bandra
Sheen Romy and her mother Sadhna at Shack.(HT)

Where did you have your first drink? What was the hangout spot you headed to in those lazy evening hours after college?

For many Mumbaiites who crossed over into adulthood in the new millennium, the answer to both questions is, Hawaiian Shack.

It offered the nightclub experience minus the snobbery. Prices were low. It had no dress code. It let you rub shoulders with the kinds of cool adults you hoped to become.

After 14 years of an open-door policy, it shut for good on Sunday.

“We feel we achieved our purpose,” says Sheen Romy, daughter of the late founder, Romy Lalwani.

Lalwani opened the Shack in 2003, a sort of slice of Goa in the heart of Bandra. Its low lighting, potted palms, bamboo interiors and Jamaican music were reminiscent of the beach shacks that were already disappearing in that tiny neighbouring state.

“Hawaiian Shack was significant because it opened at a time when the nightlife of Mumbai was very different from what it is now,” says food critic Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi. “There were so few pubs, and most were out of reach for penny-pinching students and youngsters. The entire idea of a relaxed space with good music and affordable drinks was a novelty. For one generation, it was the place to go.”

“It was my father’s dream, an act of love. My mother Sadhna was once not allowed to enter a nightclub because she was wearing sneakers. This was what led to the idea. I feel we have made him proud. It is time to move on,” Sheen Romy, daughter of Romy Lalwani, founder of Hawaiian Shack.

Then Bandra changed, along with the city. You can’t throw a bagel today without hitting a café or pub that will offer free wi-fi and happy hour deals at cheerful, welcoming rates. There are no dress codes. The real problem is not prices so much as parking.

For those who remember a different Mumbai, it is hard to see another icon disappear — after Rhythm House, Crown Bakery, Café Samovar.

“I was in college the first time I visited Hawaiian Shack. I liked it so much I kept going back. I was there last month, catching up with friends,” says bank executive Sajit Tadavi, 33.

“Back then a club like this was a novelty,” adds public relations executive Keyur Barad, 32. “I have so many fond memories of the place. The DJ station that moved like an elevator between the two levels was something we saw there for the first time.”

The truth, Sanghvi points out, is the iconic status of the place had ebbed, despite a recent revamp.

“Today’s college crowd has so many options in Bandra alone,” she says. “They were not as keen on Hawaiian Shack.”

Barad agrees. He will miss the memories, he says, “but we are spoilt for choice… and that loyalty for one destination is simply gone.”


* Rhythm House: The Kala Ghoda music store where you could put on headphones and listen to hours of free music, discover new bands, marvel at strains of Carnatic when you had only known Chopin… established in 1948 and frequented by Mumtaz, Shammi Kapoor, A R Rahman and Zakir Hussain, it shut in February 2016. Profits had been plummeting for years. The record store has been bought over by a jewellery chain.

* Café Samovar: Impoverished artists could get a good meal here, at rates they could afford — or put on a running tab. Artist MF Husain, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and filmmaker Shyam Benegal were patrons. Café Samovar, set up in 1964, quickly became a focal point of the Kala Ghoda art culture, situated as it was within the Jehangir Art Gallery. It shut in 2015, after the gallery won a three-decade battle to reclaim the space for art.

* Crown Bakery: This landmark in Mahim opened in 1953 and was the place to go for real mawa cakes, the butteriest biscuits and puffs of all kinds. It will be replaced by part of a Metro rail station. The bakery shut last year after it was claimed by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, which is building the Colaba-Seepz corridor along this stretch.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 01:26 IST