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Swing with the times

If you’ve got sick of having your feet nailed to the floor by a stiletto or being jabbed by an elbow in your back every time the DJ ups the tempo, say hallelujah. This month, Calcutta got its biggest nightclub — Shisha Reincarnated — a massive 10,000sq ft reincarnation of one of the city’s most popular, and ironically enough, smallest, nightclubs. So, at PDK Shenaz Hotels, owners of Shisha Reincarnated, the motif obviously is: make it large.

Or how about lounging around in a wine and cheese kind of place — that’s actually done duty in the day as a high-end jewellery boutique? Here the glass gondolas that show off exclusive diamond jewellery till 7.30pm make way for elegant bottles of Chateau Latour, Lindemans and Pommard at night.

Party animals couldn’t have asked for more as the swinging nightclubs and lounge bars of Calcutta reinvent the rules to take your night-about-town experience to a new high. They are getting more innovative, so expect a foot-spa treatment even as you sip on your favourite cocktail. They are getting roomier, but you can be seriously exclusive in a booth of your own — even as the crowds mill about the watering hole.

The city’s changing for sure and these party places are making quite an impressive song and dance about it. Here’s how:

Think big

Z Lounge doubles up as an exclusive jewellery boutique, Zevar, by day and morphs into a lounge after sundown; (top and above) Z Lounge offers a vast wine and cheese
Pix: Rashbehari Das

Arvind Bhatnagar, executive director, operations, PDK Shenaz Hotels, says that Shisha Reincarnated is a one-stop shop for weekend winding down. He says that the old Shisha, which opened five years ago was small — just 1,200sq ft — compared to Shisha Reincarnated. “But our guests kept coming back even though we were small and were probably the only club with a really plain décor,” adds Nitin Kohli, director, PDK Shenaz Hotels.

A sprawling hybrid bar that’s divided into ‘zones’, Shisha Reincarnated offers the option of complete privacy even though the nightclub may be overcrowded. “A lot of people want to have a corner of their own where they can take breaks and chat with their friends even while they party,” says Bhatnagar.

The 1,000sq ft Booth@Shisha on the left of the main lounge area has five booths, all done in luscious red and separated by bead curtains. Equipped with a separate bar and boasting of butler service, each booth can be booked for a minimum of Rs 5,000 for eight people.

Opposite this is the Lounge@Shisha, a private party area with an option of a separate DJ set-up, while one flight up is the open-to-the-sky Deck@Shisha, an 800sq ft smoking area.

On the cards are karaoke and unplugged nights. House rules include a cover charge of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 per couple and a strict profiling policy.

Space is also a highlight at Footloose, the sports bar at The Ffort Raichak. The 4,500sq ft nightclub that opened this June, is split into two levels. The dance floor, bar and lounge area are on the ground floor while the upper level holds a games zone with pool, table tennis, board games and video games, along with another lounge area. “There’s ample elbow room for guests to chill out,” says Manish K. Pandey, resident manager, The Ffort Raichak.

Doing double duty

A spa by day and a lounge bar at night, Amoda Spabar is a happy blend of spa features along with a well-stocked

And how’s this for ‘new’: an ultra-luxe jewellery boutique that morphs into a lounge at night. Z Lounge is more than just the city’s first wine and cheese lounge. “It’s a concept,” says director Pushpesh Baid.

The October child is a jewellery boutique by day, going by the name of Zevar that turns into the 3,500sq ft Z Lounge after sundown. Here’s a sampling of the regular platter: Edam, Gruyere, low-fat low-salt cheddar, Emmental, Danish Blue, mild Gouda priced at Rs 800.

Though there’s no cover charge at Z Lounge, the gate policy is strict profiling. And the menu pricing does the rest. The music includes lots of down-tempo fusion and electronica. “We intend to do jazz and unplugged sessions as well. We are also looking at hosting plays, fashion shows and even a night bazaar soon,” says Baid.

Calcuttans can expect a revamped Privy next month with a new hookah lounge in place; (top) Plush Lounge is another favourite of the club-hopping crowd

This isn’t Baid’s only concept party place. He gave Calcutta Amoda Spabar, its other new style statement hangout in July this year. A spa by day and lounge bar at night, the Amoda crowd is a younger lot compared to Z.

And when your feet hurt from too much dancing, don’t stop — remember where you are. A foot massage (priced between Rs 400 to Rs 800 depending on the duration) can be arranged to get you ready for the dance floor again. Entry to Amoda is also by profiling.

According to Baid, the concept of dual functionality at both Amoda and Z are actually a fire-fighting tool against recession. “This is optimum utilisation of space and infrastructure,” he adds.

Going places

Action has also moved to nightspots outside the city’s hub, like Footloose, a two-hour drive from the city at The Ffort Raichak, and Shimmers Lounge that opened in September this year in Sector V, Salt Lake.

“People enjoy getting away for a day or the weekend to places where they can relax and head back home rejuvenated,” says Pandey of The Ffort Raichak.

Footloose, the sports bar at The Ffort Raichak, is split into two levels, with the dance floor, bar and lounge area on the ground floor; (above) the upper level of Footloose has a games zone with a pool table and board games

Footloose has been seeing a lot of city traffic. The gate policy here is also strict profiling apart from an entry fee (not a cover charge) of Rs 600.

Adil Rashid, marketing manager, Shimmers, says: “Our target group is the young and mobile crowd. We get a huge weekend crowd in search of new places and fresh faces on the party circuit.” And a lot of his guests are also young IT professionals working in the area.

In the swing

So what’s feeding these mushrooming nightspots? For one, says Bunty Sethi of Privy which opened in December last year, the market’s been looking better since September. Sethi is also set to unveil a revamped Privy next month. A hookah lounge and new DJs are in the offing.

Says Ekta Puri, branding head of Plush Lounge, The Astor Hotel, which also opened in December last year: “People are well- travelled and visit some of the best nightspots the world over. They expect the same experience back home. What’s more, the younger crowd today has more disposable incomes.”

And, yes there’s room for all the players — and more. “Competition is healthy. Just like restaurants, nightclubs can also share space and do good business,” says Kohli of PDK Shenaz Hotels.

Sethi of Privy adds: “Most importantly, you have to be ready for a change.”

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