Nightlife: The bold and the bars

Sep 15, 2013, 12:45 IST | Sunday Mid DAY Team

In section two of our 32nd anniversary special, we take a walk down memory lane and wonder at how people in Mumbai lived earlier

SUNDAY MID DAY 32nd Anniverary Special, Mumbai

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1989: Topaz Bar opens at Grant Road
Frequented by Bombay’s underworld elements,Topaz Bar becomes infamous for its guest list. Scamster Abdul Kareem Telgi is arrested from here in November 2002. Deepa Bar opens in 2002, where dancer Tarannum Khan is arrested in 2005 by the crime branch of the Mumbai police for her alleged role in a betting racket.

Bar dancers take a morcha to Mantralaya on July 10, 1996 after bars are shut. On July 16, 2013, the Supreme Court finally lifts the ban on dance bars in Maharashtra. Pic/Suresh KK

1999: Lower Parel gets its first pub
Fire n Ice opens at High Street Phoenix at Lower Parel and redefines the way Mumbai parties. Owner Ketan Kadam opens it to give revellers an option to party, apart from SoBo’s iconic nightclubs Copa Cabana and Rasna Pub. The club shuts in 2004 after setting a trend for resto-bars
and pubs.

2006: Party continues, but on a deadline

The city that is used to partying late into the night gets the bad news. The official deadline on pubs is 1.30 am. To add to the party spoiler, in 2011, the minimum age to drink alcohol in a pub is raised from 21 to 25. Assistant commissioner of Police Vasant Dhoble, makes headlines for his crackdown against pubs and restaurants soon after.

2010: Harry Potter craze threatens city’s nocturnals
The city that never sleeps is unkind even to the sleepless owls in the city. Quick to catch on to an opportunity, Crawford Market sees a battalion of Harry Potter fans looking to own the endangered nocturnal bird after the release of Harry Potter sequel The Deathly Hallows: Part 1, where he owns a pet owl, Hedwig. Owls, which are already endangered in the city, come under serious threat. Animal activists and rescuers raise a hue and cry to oppose animal cruelty.

Then & Now: Right into the night
Marcellus Baptista, senior journalist

From Nights In White Satin to Rolling In The Deep — that somewhat sums up the nightlife scene in Mumbai from the early ’80s till today.

It was all gracious at the Rendezvous high up at the Taj with Walter singing My Way and at Supper Club on the 35th floor of the Oberoi with George and the Soft Rock Revolution playing all the old favourites and couples gliding on the dance floor. Bars such as Lancers’ Bar and Malabar Bar at the Oberoi, Society at the Ambassador, Harbour Bar and Apollo Bar at the Taj and Talk of the Town were the popular haunts.

You headed to Xanadu, Take Off, Go Bananas, Studio 29, RG’s, 1900s at the Taj, which reinvented itself as Insomnia, Cellar at the Oberoi, Cyclone at the Leela, Cavern at SeaRock, Casablanca at Holiday Inn and Rock Around The Clock.

Of course, beer bars and permit-rooms have always been a popular haunt for workers to enjoy their favourite tipple along with snacks known as ‘chakna’ comprising boiled gram, papad and boiled eggs. But soon, the more affluent people turned to pubs that suddenly mushroomed here, there and everywhere. It was a totally different experience with music spun by a DJ and fancy cocktails with fancy garnish and, of course, high prices.

The change kicked off with Rasna, then On Toes and Toto’s Garage, KK’s, Grand Canyon, Sheetal Again, Club Abyss and Club IX that ran high on retro music, Copa Cabana that was swinging with its salsa and Latino tracks, Razzberry Rhinoceros that was a superb platform for musicians around town, J49 and The Lobby Bar at Sea Rock.

These nights you think of living it up at Tote on the Turf, Poly Esther’s, Hawaiian Shack, Loca Loca, WTF! and China House, especially on a Thursday night and Soul Fry on its kicking karaoke Monday.  

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