Tired of forking out hefty door charges only to find a club’s dance floor emptier than a government office on Holi? With Time Out’s guide to 2012’s most happening dance clubs, you’ll know exactly where to go to get footloose in the city.
FOR COMMERCIAL AND BOLLYWOOD BEATS
Every weekend, “Sheila Ki Jawaani” and remixes of the Black Eyed Peas ring out from clubs across Mumbai. But dancers also need to consider which clubs are best for strutting in Jimmy Choos and which parties only get going in the wee hours. Check out our guidewithin- a-guide to the best commercial and Bollywood clubs.
Trilogy To even get to Trilogy’s dance floor in Juhu you must first walk its lipstick red staircase. Never before has a stairwell been such a glamorous fashion runway with the city’s best-dressed parading up and down it all night. The dance floor also gets pretty wild after 1am to commercial house and hip hop. Just remember, though, this is a classy joint. You won’t hear Bollywood tunes. But you will see the occasional touring Playboy modelcum- DJ behind the console. It’s open until 3am too.
China House China House in Santa Cruz might not be as pretty as Trilogy but the guys and girls who bop there usually are. What’s even better: the relaxed vibe. And once the clock hits 1am, the commercial house dance floor is as good as anywhere in town. It’s also open until 3am.
Tote on the Turf A recent challenger to Trilogy and China House for the title of the city’s best club to see-and-be-seen-at, Tote’s popularity has more to do with the amount of schmoozing going on there. But you’ll also find a keen dance floor at the Mahalaxmi bar most Wednesdays and weekends.
LIV Sparkly with a mirrored dance floor, Fort’s LIV is still enjoying honeymoon popularity with clubbers, who turn out in high fashion and eager dance steps.
The Big Nasty If hifalutin clubs aren’t your cup of tea, check out Mumbai’s most surprising dance hub, Bandra newbie The Big Nasty. It isn’t your typical club – the sound system is scratchy, no one is dressed to the nines and there isn’t a dance floor to speak of. But that doesn’t stop anyone from grooving on chairs or near the chain-rink dividers seven days a week. The fun is partly due to the play list and super-casual vibe. But The Big Nasty’s real secret is much simpler – cheap booze.
High Lounge Leave your pretensions at the door. As the venue that’s (unofficially) open the latest on weekends, everyone arrives at the High Lounge, next to the domestic airport, post-midnight, drunk and dying to dance to Punjabi rap and “Chaar Baj Gaye”. Bonus points for the girls dancing on the bar.
Hype With a slightly older crowd, Worli’s Hype takes a while to warm up. When it does, though, the smoke machine, Bollywood hits and manic MC don’t rest until the dance floor is moving. It’s deafening loud though.
Kino 108 Along with Trilogy, Andheri’s Kino 108 rules the suburbs. It’s not strictly a club, but everybody ends up dancing where they stand. It is also very clique-y, with everyone knowing everyone else.
Royalty Formerly known as Poison nightclub, Royalty in Bandra is back open and buzzing. Girls and guys turn out in haute couture and the big dance floor is packed. But we must issue a nappy alert – the crowd is young, very young.
Tryst Like a prom night after-party, Tryst in Phoenix Mills is the hotspot for giggling early twenties-and-under dancers who like their music a few beats faster. Avoid if you have a hip replacement.
Think twice before going
Some city dance floors are as depressing as Kingfisher’s fortunes. They include Grant Road’s Baroke, which holds the only have the crowds to show for it; Panache in Fort, which is the sort of place politicos book to celebrate a civic election win; Colaba’s Polly Esthers, whose dance floor was once the queen but now rarely attracts a crowd after 10, and Prive in Colaba, which began life as the most exclusive VIP club in Mumbai but seems to be aging badly. Newly opened Rehab in Bandra is expensive and kitschy but we haven’t seen its dance floor take off yet. Sutra’s problem, by contrast, isn’t the lack of a crowd – its Andheri (E) dance floor is packed and open until 3am. But writhing men, pelvic thrusts and gold chains vastly outnumber the sprinkling of svelte girls.
FOR RETRO ROCKERS
The universe has certain inviolable rules. E=MC². Burgers and fries go best with cola. And booze mixed with retro music always begets dancing. Lower Parel’s Shiro and Bandra’s Hawaiian Shack understand this perfectly. Shiro blends classic retro hits with contemporary cheese like Guetta and Ne-Yo’s “Tonight” to create a kicking weekend dance floor. Yet Shiro’s real attraction is not its tunes but its ability to dress up retro in a veneer of respectability. Its clubbers are chic and the Buddha statues so serene that even if the DJ played “Achy Breaky Heart” it wouldn’t seem so bad. You can’t say the same for Hawaiian Shack. Its sausage-packed dance floor is sweatier than a round of Turkish sauna wrestling, with groups of girls fending off male interlopers by dancing in impenetrable circles. That hardly sounds like a recommendation, yet somehow the laid-back Shack is always a blast. Also check out Blue Frog’s monthly Retro Night with The Other People. It features covers of classics from The Beatle’s “Hey Jude” to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses and a dance floor that rocks harder than many international DJ sets.
FOR SALSA AND JIVE JITTERBUGS
Ever since Mumbai’s first salsa festival in 2007, the Latin dance has run riot. Maybe it’s because the classes are not just at dance studios but also in bars. These include Dance Factory’s Latino Nights at Canvas in Phoenix Mills, Quickstep’s Salsa Night at Worli’s Cool Chef Cafe and Salsa India’s Salsa Wednesdays at Shiro, which had the biggest turnout. Each night has friendly instructors, happy to teach newcomers, but you can have fun just by watching the sexy instructors glide across the floor. If fox-trotting is more your style, then head to Bandra, Willingdon (Khar) or Catholic gymkhanas, which all hold ballroom dance nights. You will need a member to sign you in as a guest, but it’s worth it on their bigger ballroom nights. At Bandra Gymkhana’s Christmas Eve dance, jitterbugging aunties stretched across the tennis courts as far as the eye could see.
Indie music nights are becoming even hotter dance destinations than regular clubbing nights. The monthly Grime Riot Disco at Cool Chef Cafe is now a must-attend for every hipster in town. Despite alternating DJs spinning everything from house to Balkan music, Cool Chef’s back room is consistently home to creative dance moves and trendy dressers. There’s rocker chicks dancing in skirts and boots, foreigners doing the bump-and-grind and we usually see our male hair dresser flirting and flipping his hair. The Wobble nights at Bandra’s Bonobo are popular with more hardcore dancers. Specialising in drum and bass and dub step, you need to look out when the phat basslines kick in – the clubbers thrash about so violently, you’ll fear they’re having a seizure. You’ll also usually find lively dance floors at Cool Chef’s Pink Rupee lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender nights. Then there is the Live from the Console band and DJs performances at Bandra’s Mehboob Studios that have hosted the odd boogie or two. And, of course, people are always bopping to the artists at Lower Parel’s Blue Frog.
MORE CHILLED THAN CLUBS
With its immersion in deafening music and flashing lights, clubbing isn’t for everyone. Many lounges and pubs are the perfect alternative. They let you enjoy a meal or have a conversation without skipping on the groovy music.
Escobar Youngsters and middle-agers flock to Bandra’s Escobar for its friendly drink prices and classy decor. Early on, the boozing and chatting action is all on the open-air terrace. Then midnight strikes and tipsy men and women rush to the floor. That’s when Escobar with its Bollywood and commercial playlist is not just Mumbai’s best lounge for dancing but one of the most rocking dance floors in the city.
Wink Intimate by day, Wink becomes a commercial-house hive on weekends, drawing most smartly dressed patrons off their bar stools and into a sprawling mess of happy dancers.
Aer If you fancy yourself an arbiter of taste who can’t abide Britney Spears, then head to Aer, overlooking Mumbai from high up in the Four Seasons Hotel. DJfatbeat’s electronica mixed with jazz, world music and funky house isn’t clubbing energetic but lets you groove in slow, sultry tones.
Amadeus The NCPA restaurant-by-day unleashes house tunes in the evenings and is the latest place to find favour with the south Mumbai rich.
Aurus Super-funky restaurant Aurus brings in a DJ and sheds its tables most Friday nights so the city’s swankiest can groove against an ocean backdrop.
Beer and cheer
The Irish House Few bars or clubs explode into raucous merrymaking and dancing like The Irish House at Phoenix Mills. Here beer towers flow like rivers until folks are dancing between tables, under big screen TVs and on each other’s toes.
Wtf! Khar Wtf! has been a revelation since it opened in 2010 offering cheap booze and funky vibes. Packed each weekend, its young crowd inevitably start to wiggle their booty once they are a few drinks down.
By Ben Leahy on April 13 2012 9.26am
Photos by Amit Chakravarty, Mohnish Dabhoya, Gopal MS