It is only a few minutes past 1 am on a Saturday night, but the city is already off to sleep. Shutters have been pulled down, the bar staff has tidied up the place and left, and late-night bootleggers are nowhere in sight.
As you see a last minute queue-up at a 24-hour general and medical store in Bandra (West) that’s selling only limited supplies of junk food and aerated beverages through the small holes of a locked-down grill, you can sense the frustration building up in these young partygoers, who just want to unwind after a long week.
Now, they have nowhere to go but home as they watch their once-party manic city turn into a sleepy, undesirable town a little past midnight. As they pick up their supplies and go home with a few friends, you can see the streets emptying out and clearing the way for patrolling police cars that ring in bad news.
But there’s hope. The rise of new services by young entrepreneurs that help you move your party indoors, plan and execute funky ideas and add a creative touch to mundane binge-drinking, are bringing some succour back to Mumbai’s wounded after-hours.
Hop, Skip and a Party! & Anything Bombay
If you search for a party planner online, you will be taken aback by the unprecedented long list of dubious company names and event planners — nothing quite befitting an intimate affair, you’d think. That’s where these new party planners come into play, who love to personalise to the tiniest detail, conceptualise quirky ideas and are willing to organise a small party for even seven people with equal gusto.
“We started with the aim of encouraging house parties; you can be so creative and can do things in your budget. It’s a lot more fun that just going out to a bar,” says Nidhi Kejriwal, co-founder of party planning service Hop, Skip and a Party!. Run by four sisters, 35 year-old Kejriwal, 32 year-old Ritu Kedia, 27 year-old Vasudha Kedia and 29 year-old Ruchi Kedia (see picture), the service offers creative theme offerings from handmade and hand-designed décor, stocks party supplies brought in from London and Australia, and provides games and board games designed by the four of them, among other details.
While the foursome at Hop, Skip and a Party! has planned as many as 100 parties, Divya Jagwani’s company Anything Bombay is just gaining momentum. The 27 year-old, who recently quit her job at a production house to launch Anything Bombay, says it allows her to follow both passions — of being a local friend to expats and tourists by showing them around the city, as well as planning parties that are intimate (for 20-25 guests), quirky and completely different from the usual dos. Since she launched the company a few months ago, she has planned a few for friends and friends of friends. “Depending on the party and the host, I plan different things each time. Sometimes, I make my own Sangria, rope in a roadside grill stall from the street for a party, buy supplies, make supplies, and also outsource things depending on the theme I have in mind,” says Jagwani.
Email Anything Bombay on email@example.com
Kosha Bhansali quit her banking job two months ago to start something linked to her passion for hosting parties. “But every time I planned one, it was a task to source good products, or those that came in a budget,” says the 27 year-old. So she decided to source party supplies from China where she travels to once every quarter, to buy wigs, gimmicky glasses, T-shirts, LED shot glasses and glow-in-the-dark hair bands.
The complete 50-odd product range at DenWreckers is available on rent and also on sale at her Four Bungalows residence in Andheri (w). She has provided party supplies for four house parties in a month and has already broken even in her first month.
Digital entrepreneur, 28 year-old Urvi Jain loves hosting house parties. But she found it hard to host theme parties in her budget. “DenWreckers was affordable and that’s why we hosted an Item Number theme party for my husband’s 28th birthday last month,” laughs. the Bandra resident. They bought wigs, oversized glasses, bow-ties and moustaches for a party they will “never forget.”
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Ready cocktail mixers and party packs
Apetito Food and Beverage
If you don’t want to spend on a bartender and fancy some professionally made cocktails, Apetito Food and Beverage, a month-old venture, has also started importing ready cocktail mixers of London brand Funkin. On offer are 120 gm (serves two) priced at Rs 130 cocktail mixer packs for classics such as Margerita, Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, Strawberry Woowoo and Raspberry Mojito (priced at Rs 130).
The Funkin cocktail mixers are also available in 1-litre packs for Rs 600 (serves 12-15) in three flavours — Cosmopolitan, Strawberry Woowoo and Mojito. Apetito also provides party packs of different sizes and prices (Rs 999 to Rs 7,499) that include cocktail mixer packs, cocktail shaker, stirrers and coasters depending on the party pack you choose. “We have received about 40 calls in the last week,” says Pinakin Shah, general manager, Apetito Food and Beverage.
One such delivery was for 47 year-old banker, Clyde Pereira from Andheri (East), who was looking for ways to make cocktails at home less cumbersome. “There are so many juices and liqueurs to stock for just one type of cocktail. And learning how to make them is a process. I never got around to making cocktails at home,” he says. He called for the Starter Party Pack that contains eight cocktail mixers, last week. “I will try it at home first, and then may be call some friends over,” he says.
Place an order between 10 am and 6 pm on 66662012/ 9167619243
A photo booth with props
Hosting parties at home is fun, but how do you make them different each time? Get a photo booth — professional photos with props that will result in super memorabilia. Earlier this year, professional photographer and writer Sheena Dabholkar decided to bring the photo booth hosted at weddings and events to the house party by introducing a more energetic version lasting for an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
She calls the mini studio with lights, a backdrop and props, the Incredibooth — one that comes to life a few hours into the party when everyone is fuelled by alcohol and ready to let loose and make fun pictures. Dabholkar, who is getting quite a few requests for baby showers and bachelorettes believes, “People are spending a lot on lifestyle these days. They want to spend on a shared experience, where they can involve their friends and create some memories, not just by doing shots with each other.”
Pooja Dhingra, founder, Le 15 Patisserie, wanted to deploy the Incredibooth at her brother’s 28th birthday last Friday to do something that would result in fun memories. “We got close to 200 crazy pictures, which was the perfect memento,” she smiles.
Email email@example.com; log on to www.thisissheena.com/incredibooth
Portable bar service
For five hours and Rs 5,500, you can enjoy a professional bar set-up at home, complete with bartenders, glassware and peripheral items like tissues, stirrers and coasters. This one month-old portable bar service, Barmobile, launched by 27 year-old Gaurish Rangnekar, a certified mixologist from the New York Bartending School, has become a hit in the city’s house party circuit and has catered to more than 20 house parties from birthdays to bachelorettes, in just under a month. It needs only four feet of space to function; you can even pick a theme, which will reflect in the cocktail options and the bartender’s uniforms.
“Now is a good time for the service as most of the requests we get are for late-night parties since the pubs shut early. They ask us to come in 10 or 11 pm and stay on till 4 am,” says Rangnekar. Chandni Sareen, a 22 year-old freelance fashion stylist, used the Barmobile service twice in the last three weeks to host a birthday and a farewell party at her residence in Parel.
“We didn’t want to take the chance of having a party at a club or bar; it’s become too risky. With house parties, it’s safer, more economical and you don’t have to worry about cops or deadlines,” she says. To be safe, Sareen and her friends even arranged for one-day drinking permits for the night of the parties for all the guests.
You can reach Gaurish of Barmobile on firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out their full range of services on www.barmobile.in. Call 9167194774
Midnight supplies delivery
With even the cyclewallahs, who peddle coffee, tea and cigarettes, relocating to evade the police, and the local banyas shutting shop early, it’s become virtually impossible for disgruntled pub-hoppers to find a cigarette or even a packet of chips past midnight. That’s why two working professionals in their late 20s, who wish to not be named, started Nightcall(.in), a night-time delivery service plying between Cuffe Parade and VT between 11 pm and 4 am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Nightcall’s limited product range includes late-night essentials like cigarettes, aerated beverages, chips and Maggi noodles. The charges are higher than the MRP and also include a fixed delivery charge of Rs 50 on every product.
The cost hasn’t stopped partygoers from ordering supplies and continuing the party at home. “The party scene is so sad right now that we have no choice but to have a small after-party at home once the pubs have shut because you can’t go out even if it’s for a little over an hour,” says Fort resident Karan Dalal, a 24 year-old sales trader in the finance sector, who has been ordering midnight supplies from Nightcall every weekend since a month. “I call them just before leaving the bar or pub, and by the time I am home with my friends, the chips and beverages are delivered,” adds Dalal.