Midnight's children

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By TT Bureau
  • Published 27.06.11
A party-goer enjoys the evening at SPE

Where’s the party tonight?

If it’s Saturday, the party is at Shisha Reincarnated. If it’s Tuesday, it’s at Someplace Else. Shisha, the Camac Street nightclub, pulls a 600-plus crowd on weekends, a figure that other nightclubs don’t match even on special nights (where 200-400 is the average). Meanwhile, a place that does consistently well throughout the week is Someplace Else, the watering hole at The Park otherwise known as SPE, with a floating footfall of 100-125 every weekday, compared to the rest that boast a 150-plus crowd only on a “stronger weekday” like Friday. One reason for the consistent popularity of SPE — more a pub than a nightclub — could be that it opens at 4pm. And there is the music, of course.

Shisha, with its 10,000sq ft area, is after all the only hangout you’re guaranteed a toehold at! Another factor in its favour is that it has something for everyone. “There is an open terrace for those who want to relax with hookah. There are small booths and cabanas away from the dance floor, where the slightly older crowd likes to sit with friends. So nobody really feels out of place,” says Arvind Bhatnagar, executive director (operations), PDK Shenaz Hotels, owners of Shisha Reincarnated.

But not everyone chooses the most spacious nightclub. Some like the cosy, compact feel of a place like Nocturne that has a crowd capacity of 400. “I like it that the club is not too spread out; it’s neatly sectioned. And the smoking and hookah rooms are nicely done up with TV screens,” says Aaryan Bajaj, 26, a weekend regular at Nocturne.

Every nightclub has its own loyalists who pick their spot based on music, comfort, food or proximity. So while banker Arjun Harlalka prefers Plush at The Astor for its “romantic mood and privacy”, especially for a date, Angad Kumar, 21, likes the “special music nights” at Venom on Camac Street and Naveen Pai chooses Soho for the “exclusivity of the private dining area”. Priya Roy, a PhD student in London, prefers to spend at least two evenings at Roxy whenever she is in town. “It is my favourite nighclub because of its relaxed ambience and woman-friendly feel,” says the 35-year-old.

Big Ben at Kenilworth Hotel and The Basement at Samilton Hotel draw people with live music. “At the Monday Night Blues at Big Ben, you get to hear some great live music and it really manages to drive away my back-to-work blues,” says project manager Rehaan Jaiswal.

And with F-Bar set to open its doors in August, at Chrome, fashion could soon take a front row seat.


Only three party destinations offer a special something for the girls. Tantra (in picture) and Underground host ladies nights every Wednesday, while Shisha has recently joined the bandwagon of, by and for babes on Thursdays. For girls who wanna have fun, it’s a great excuse to “party for free”.

“I’m a student, so obviously I don’t have money to burn. Which is why I often drop in on ladies nights because the booze is free and I don’t end up spending more than Rs 500 even if I’m splitting costs with the boys,” says Piya Mukherjee, a management student.

For others, a girls-only zone is a welcome break to skip the squeeze. Says Ria Roy, 26: “I actually like the fact that there are more women than men, which isn’t the case on other days. It makes for a nice non-threatening environment.”

Fortunately, clubs can stay open till 2am mid-week with a late closing licence, though the usual deadline is midnight. “The nights are really catching on. Big groups get a discount on their bill and complimentary shots are handed out to all the women. The idea is for the ladies to have a really good time with their girlfriends,” says Arvind of Shisha.


Payal Roy and her husband Sambit have only two options when eating out late. “At that time of the night we can either go to a place like The Bridge (at The Park) or the regular dhaba. So we often end up eating at Jai Hind on Lansdowne Road,” says the 30-year-old PR professional. The fact that the dhaba barely pinches the pocket is a big plus. “Good, cheap food is the main attraction for the clubbing crowd. The dhaba stays open till 1.30am and then opens again at 3am on weekends so people keep coming,” says Kiranjeet Kaur of Balwant Singh Dhaba (in picture) on Harish Mukherjee Road. It’s also the spicy Indian food that draws people here. “We usually go to Azad Hind on Ballygunge Circular Road or Jai Hind Dhaba on Lansdowne Road. We are famished after all that drinking and dancing, so we order the dhaba specials like Dal Tadka, Chicken Butter Masala and Butter Naan,” says 23-year-old MBA student Rajeev Gupta.

For Piya Mukherjee, it’s the comfort factor that counts. “I’m already spending money at a nightclub so a meal at a star hotel is out of the question. But even otherwise, I prefer to put my feet up on the dashboard and tuck into a greasy tandoori in the privacy of my own car, with the company I choose. It just feels like a 2am thing to do,” says the management student. What else can you find open so late? New Sharma Dhaba (more commonly known as Sharma’s) and another outlet of Azad Hind on Purna Das Road.

The playlist

Everything from Bollywood to The Beatles goes in Calcutta. But commercial music seems to top the charts at most venues.

The top five tracks at Underground are Give Me Everything by Neyo and Pit Bull, DK Bose from Delhi Belly, Down On Me by 50 Cent, Every Li’ Part Of Me by Alesha Deixon featuring Jay Sean and Ainve Ainve from Band Baaja Baaraat.

At Nocturne, commercial, house and freestyle tracks set the night rolling. “The party crowd likes to groove to house and commercial music. I get a lot of requests for hip-hop too,” says Iimrran, the resident deejay at the Theatre Road party address. For Bolly beats, all roads lead to Shisha (especially on Wednesdays which are devoted to Bollywood-only) though DJ Girish also churns out a mix of hip-hop, electronic dance and R&B tracks as “they make great dance numbers”. At Venom, it’s R&B and hip-hop and then back to commercial and house music at Privy.

Looking for something completely different? Try Someplace Else where the playlist includes Hey Jude by The Beatles, Highway to Hell by AC/DC, Free Falling by Tom Petty, Coming Back To Life by Pink Floyd and Killing in the Name of by Rage Against The Machine.

While the primary purpose of music, at least in a nightclub, is to draw people to the dance floor, many like their beats in the background. At Plush, soothing lounge music starts in the early hours of the evening, ranging from fusion tracks to Asian acoustic numbers. “The music is not jarring, it’s played softly in the background — it’s just the kind of stuff you feel like listening to after work,” feels 30-year-old Abhishek Gupta. At night, DJ Devaa peps it up with club remixes and commercial music. “At Plush we don’t play any Bollywood, the music is very international in selection,” says Devaa.

Sip & Bite

CLUB SPECIALS: (Clockwise from top) Watermelon Daiquiri at Shisha; Jager Bomb shots at Nocturne and Sheesh Touk at Plush

You don’t eat where you party, seems to be Calcutta’s unwritten code. “We pick up rolls to eat before heading to party, so we are full by the time we hit the club. Sometimes, we order a starter,” says real estate agent Kaushik Sahay, 26.

But if you’re “lounging” more than “clubbing”, food does feature. “The Mediterranean platter at Plush is very good, it comes with so many dips. I also like some of the pastas on the menu,” says Arjun. Other quick bites include the Sheesh Touk, Greek Meat Balls and Prawns in Piri Piri Sauce. At Roxy, “cheese kulchas are almost a speciality, people love it”, says manager Anirban Dasgupta. “Chicken Satay and jalapeno poppers are very popular at our pub,” says Bilas Das, F&B manager of Big Ben. But the general feeling is still that if you must spend, spend on alcohol.

“I usually eat dinner at home before heading out to party. The only thing worth spending on in nightclubs is the alcohol,” says Suhel Roy, a 22-year-old marketing trainee. Others may forgo dinner altogether and fill up on free snacks like chips and peanuts. Some pocket-conscious people also have pre-party tanking up strategies. Shreya Sarkar, 18, pops into Oly Pub on Park Street for a quick peg or two before returning to the party venue.

But not everyone takes the utilitarian approach. For those who prefer to sip in style, cocktails are a favourite. While Sampurna Singh, 30, is partial to the Strawberry Daiquiri at SPE, regulars at Soho swear by the Cosmopolitan, and at Plush tasty concoctions like the Cinnamon and Apple Martini and the Mango Minty Maria flow freely. At Shisha, whisky is the poison of choice (on the rocks or with Coke) along with “liqueur-based cocktails like Watermelon Daiquiri, Tia Maria and Benedictine”, says Arvind. At Underground, you can’t go wrong with the Long Island Iced Tea.

For a quick high, shots are hot, especially with bigger groups. “We usually start the night with a round of Jager Bombs; it brings on the mood,” says Nocturne regular Ritesh Chowdhury, 25. The shooter — a combination of Red Bull and Jagermeister — is also “very popular” at Plush.

Pocket pinch

Yes, Calcutta does have the capacity to spend (see box below). But on an average it all depends on how much you drink. At Someplace Else, one can have a good night out for Rs 500 a head like Shreya, or spend “a bomb” which translates into Rs 2,500 for Sampurna Singh, 30. At Shisha, the bill is likely to be around Rs 1,000 per head. At Underground, the average is Rs 750 and between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 at Onyx, the club’s VIP section. Meanwhile, Soho draws an average of between Rs 800 and Rs 1,000.

With club-hopping involved, however, these numbers mean little. Few just party at one venue anymore. So, even if 1,500 per head seems okay, the amount shoots up once you hit the next hot spot. Something that Shubhodeep Roy, 26, learned the hard way when he was out partying with his friends and touched down at Tantra, Roxy and SPE all in one evening. “We were meeting after a long time and we felt like celebrating. We started with beer, moved to JD (Jack Daniels) & Coke and then did shots,” he recollects. Reality hit a month later when the credit card statement came around. “My friend called me from Bangalore saying, ‘Dude, you guys owe me money. I’ve been charged some 8,000 bucks.’ I had to gently break it to him that so had we!”


A pool party at Aqua, a hot-spot for private bashes

Birthday or bachelor party, booking the whole or a section of a nightclub may not be as prohibitively expensive as you think. “It actually makes more sense to throw private parties in a club as you don’t have to pay extra for things like the DJ, music and decor,” says Amit Hathiramani, manager, Underground. The nightclub at HHI can be booked (except on weekends) for around 250 people at an average per-head cost of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,800. Onyx, the members-only enclosure, can accommodate a maximum of 80-90 people, at a per-head minimum of Rs 1,300 (by referral only). “For smaller groups, enclosures or a separate table are booked for a party of 20 to 30, usually twice a week,” says Amit.

The Park’s Aqua, Roxy and Tantra are often booked for private and corporate parties — 200-250 people at Rs 2,000- Rs 2,500 per head.

Shisha has at least three bookings a week, with an average party size of 30-40 people. Larger parties for more than 200 people can happen once a month. “The cost of the package depends on the brands of liquor served. It can be anything from Rs 1, 000 per head to Rs 3,500,” says Arvind.


DJ Suketu

“The crowd in Calcutta is very receptive to new music and songs. A deejay can play a good mix of Bollywood, house and hip-hop and the crowd loves it. Also, the clubs are open till late. So, from a deejay’s point of view, he/she can space out his/her set and play longer and better, without getting restricted.”

Nikhil Chinapa

“The Calcutta audience is amazing. And we don’t say that about every audience. Calcutta’s had very good deejay talent right from the days when Sanjay Dutta used to play at The Park. When guest deejays play, it helps to have a resident deejay who has very strong roots and can build the audience to be receptive to different kinds of music.”

DJ Whosane!

“Calcutta has always had a great nightlife. It was one of the only cities to have a no-curfew party policy; now the clamp is a slight damper. Music-wise, I would say the nighclubs here rank high, there is a lot of new dance music that one gets to hear unlike in other metro cities.”


Rs 3,12,000: Nocturne, a group of five friends raked up the bill on drinks alone, on the night India won the World Cup. And no, they didn’t bill it to Dhoni.

Rs 1,70,000: Plush, a Friday night party-goer spent this amount just on himself, by ordering the best champagne and whiskey in stock. [If you are reading this Mr, do please remember to call us the next time you’re out partying!]

Rs 1,50,000: Shisha, a gang of 12 from Singapore downed three bottles of Dom Perignon champagne and more.

Rs 1,50,000: Tantra, a group of 15 ordered mostly champagne on a regular weekend night.

Rs 1,01,000: Underground, a couple who spent the evening sipping only champagne.

Rs 98,900: Roxy, a group of nine celebrating a friend’s engagement.

Rs 60,000: Big Ben, three guests who only downed single malts.

what’s the coolest thing to wear while clubbing? t2 plays style police

A black mini skirt can be teamed with just about anything and it will sizzle. We like the printed blouse and black mini skirt combo (above) that just goes to show that you don’t have to be a size zero to flaunt something short. And, this PYT (below) teamed her skirt with a striking emerald green halter that complements her complexion. These ladies bring out their wild side by going spotty and dotty. One dares to go red with a leopard print (above) making the other PYT look sedate in comparison. She opts for a tunic (below) in a more realistic print and pairs it with stylish black pants. A little accessorising can glam up a regular tunic. Slip on a statement necklace (above) and cuff bangle in gold and you’re ready to go. This breezy blue tunic (below) from Primark, paired with a rose-shaped sling bag, tights and cute ballerinas makes the cut, comfortably.


The shorter, the hotter! A bow-tied satin pair of shorts (top left) oozes attitude when teamed with an armour-sleeved blazer. Even a casual pair of cotton check shorts (above) does the trick, while the buckled black shorts worn with a high collar sleeveless shirt (left) is oh-so-chic. Choose to go blingy with accessories like chunky danglers and metal-studded sling bags, or just carry off the ‘bare is sexy’ look with elan.


The LBD (little black dress) is timeless and classic — versatility is what makes it survive every fashion fad! And these PYTs sure know how to do just that with their skimpy black numbers. We like the lacy body con-style LBD teamed with black pumps for a ‘daring diva’ look (far left). The elegant halter dress is simple yet sexy (left) and finally don’t miss the multi-chain neckpiece (below) that dazzles over the one-shoulder jersey dress.

oh boy!

It was tough to find boys who made the style mark but these three looks managed to win our vote.

You can’t go wrong with crisp white pants and a black polo shirt Few can wear a V-neck short sherwani so well but this guy carries off the ‘exposed-chest’ look with ease Might as well go bald in style!

what not to wear

Harem pants, while cool in college, are not for the club Don’t go backless if you don’t have the right innerwear The animal print can go horribly wild if teamed with wrong accessories

Glow in the dark make-up isn’t always the best idea


Are those earrings or shields from the Battle of Troy?

what not to do!

Keep the neckline at a comfortable level to avoid constant tugging If they’re not branded, don’t
show them off!
Save the groping for a more private space Go barefeet only if you’ve had a recent pedicure Jumping on the couch? Not unless you’re Tom Cruise