Not a run-of-the-mill fest
In a first for the city, a mill compound in Byculla will host an electronic music festival this weekend
A six-year-old idea will germinate this weekend. New Great Eastern Mills in Byculla — a 19th-century compound where textile operations are, well, hanging by a thread — will play host to a full-blown electronic music festival called FAR OUT Left. This, to our knowledge, is the first time in Mumbai's history that such an event will be held in what is specifically a mill. Richardson & Crudass does moonlight as a venue for occasional music gigs. But being an erstwhile manufacturing unit for engineering goods, it doesn't fit the definition of a "mill". And a new chapter will thus be unveiled in the city's cultural landscape when around 800-1,000 expected party enthusiasts fill up a segregated section of this time-worn central Mumbai space.
We went for a walkthrough of the venue on Monday to understand how things will unfold on the two days of the fest. Our point of contact there was Bhishma Sagar, founder of Regenerate, the company that's organising the event along with Social. He had told us to get off at the Peninsula Salsette end of the mill, and this under-construction property dominates the exterior with its leafy wall and prominent branding. It's easy to miss a nondescript gate next door, with a rusted board on top indicating the entry into New Great Eastern Mills.
A long path lined with advertisement hoardings leads to the rear end of the compound, parts of which house a posh art gallery and museum, and parts of which lie in a ramshackle state. A small marble shamiana next to where the ticketing booth will be set up is meant to be a lounging spot. And further down from it is an open area, structured like a driveway, where the outdoor stage will be built.
The music in this section will be stopped at 10 pm given the legal curfew. But that's not when the party ends. For, there is a large empty room — beside a green pond with huge fish in it — to the left of the outdoor space where it's permissible to let your hair down till 5 am. Standing there days before the festival, imagining what the room will be like when a bunch of international and local DJs take over the console with their thumping tracks (with a collection of antique furniture stored safely in a locked section), it's hard to not appreciate how the old will momentarily give way to the new when this fest is held.
Indoor Area: The room with the pond next to it, where the party will go on till late
But does that mean that the party crowd can now look forward to more such events at this complex? Not quite yet, sadly. Sagar tells us about how he first came across New Great Eastern Mills in 2012, while scouting for venues to host musical properties. "But this venue didn't have the permission for big parties back then. It was a fully functional mill, and the law thus made it available only for events with 150-odd people. That's why our hands were tied," he says, adding that now, however, the actual mill area has shrunk in size to occupy only about 5 per cent of the entire property, meaning his original intention can finally reach its fruition.
Outdoor stage: A DJ booth will be set up at the far end of this section
The fact remains, though, that Dr Anurag Kanoria, the MD of the company that owns most of this property, is only testing the waters with this debut festival. "We do host events here once in a while to provide the city with a cultural space. But we are treating this fest as a one-off affair as of now. So, we don't know if it will be held here next year again," he confesses.
Entrance: The alley leading to the ticketing area
Time, hence, is the only barometer for checking how much New Great Eastern Mills opens its doors for such parties. We are keeping our fingers crossed, because Mumbai now has a bona fide electronic music scene. But frankly, the city is starved of venues, with Famous Studios as the de-facto go-to place. So we will wait and watch if this exquisite mill compound is added more regularly to that equation. And meanwhile, we will make hay while the sun shines by shaking a leg at FAR OUT Left.
Picture perfect Wall art in the indoor area. Pics/Roycin D'Souza
On: November 10 and 11
At: New Great Eastern Mills, Mazgaon.
Log on to: insider.in
Entry: Rs 1,770
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