Mumbaikars don’t dance. Is that why there are so few dance floors in the city? Or is it the other way around? As you ponder this funky chicken-and-egg situation, here’s the A-list of Mumbai clubs to get into this party season – and why.
1. Tryst: To see your name on the menu
A night at Tryst is like attending a spectacular light show, where more than a million color-changing LEDs poke out of almost every corner and bright green absinthe potions swirl around in glasses. If you’ve got the bucks, you’re in the spotlight. The focus of this futuristically designed club is elevated VIP tables with a minimum billing of almost $400 (Rs 25,000) each (The King Table dictates that you spend at least a lakh (over $1,500)), with a personal butler and your own bouncer to boot. Two special VIP tables – Den 1 and Den 2 – even have gadgets built into table tops that will display your name, a personal message and your customized menu for the night.
“It’s a great way to impress your date,” says co-owner Rajiv Tandon, who’s busy prepping Tryst for the upcoming party season with powerful air conditioners, a fatter hip-hop track list, a glossy new dance floor and if you can believe it, more lights. Many more lights.
2. China House Lounge: For random Wi-Fi hook-ups
So the experiences you can have at China House are varied. You could be turned away right at the door for not being dressed appropriately or for being a group of stags – or you could get in and have yourself some pricey but yummy cocktails – like the Bonnie Beb made with Dewar’s, apricot brandy, apple juice and Assam tea – and some fun dancing.There’s something for everyone at this club housed at the Grand Hyatt hotel, where new DJs visit every Friday and shutters go down as late as 3 a.m. Special mention for the seriously happy bartender Oster Fernandes, who takes requests for impromptu cocktails that aren’t on the menu, even when the bar is packed. And by packed, we mean packed.
3. Trilogy: To run into the beautiful and the damned
Spot sexy red couches and wannabe models at Trilogy. Here, from the owners of Colaba’s Henry Tham, you’ll find a wooden bar on level one and a glittering red staircase scattered with lounges that leads to a humongous dance floor above it, a thing of rarity in Mumbai. Oh, and there’s also a smoking room inside – another specialty.
Outside, bartenders in fedoras groove to typical Mumbai club music – think David Guetta and the likes – and hand out yum watermelon-basil martinis to a mixed crowd of teenyboppers and the working lot pushing for that once-in-a-while heavy dance night. Bar snack picks: Sushi and batter-fried chicken.
4. Blue Frog: To thank them for the music
Every Mumbai musician worth their guitar would agree: Blue Frog revolutionized the live music scene in this city, with its egg-shaped seating booths, state of the art acoustics, high-tech LED screens, great burgers and steaks, overpriced drinks and we-don’t-care-what-you-think arrogance.
Founded by an eclectic bunch of musicians, admen and filmmakers, this concert hall, recording studio, dance floor, restaurant and bar with a stage in front has hosted an impressive lineup of homegrown and international artists, including sitar player Anoushka Shankar, African pop artist Angelique Kidjo, British saxophone player Soweto Kinch and the immensely popular indie duo Shaa’ir + Func. The club is planning on spreading the music, with a New Delhi branch in the works. People in the capital, take note.
5. Matahaari: For Bollywood-style partying
Formerly Hype – which unabashedly billed itself as “the country’s first luxury nightclub” – Matahaari opened with the same exclusive clientele in mind. Kitted out like the famous spy’s boudoir, the club also features a VVIP room separated by a bookshelf that hides a secret room complete with a smoking area, loungers and a private bar. Despite the fact that it’s located inside a mall, which at first glance would seem an odd choice of address, Matahaari is proving a hit with the kind of A-listers that made its predecessor Hype such a success.
6. Aer: For membership of the sky-high club
Recently buffed and polished for its post-monsoon opening and soaring 34 floors over the real estate cauldron of midtown Mumbai, this rooftop bar and club at the Four Seasons Hotel affords the city’s most iconic views, including the Haji Ali mosque, the Mahalaxmi racecourse and the Bandra-Worli Sealink. Here is where well-to-do expats go to end a hard work week and also where fashionistas break out their best party frocks and high heels, which tap along with tunes the popular DJ Shaan spins.
We suggest you get a Lady Boy (white rum, coconut syrup, kaffir lime) cocktail or a Falling Indian (white rum, rose syrup, sambuka), along with a thincrust pizza to soak it all up. While weekend nights resemble a Mumbai club scene, Aer cuts early birds a break with great happy hours from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day (yes, Sundays too), when all cocktails are half price and where you can watch the sun go down over maximum city.
7. Tote on the Turf: Drinking in a landmark Mumbai building
Leading Indian architect Kapi Gupta designed Tote on the Turf against the backdrop of the Mumbai Mahalaxmi Race Course and gorgeous trees. A self-described “urban playground,” this is where chic Mumbai residents come to mingle. The imposing bar is beautifully designed, perfectly complimenting the cocktails and music selection. Want to organize a banquet? Tote on the Turf caters to those needs too. What more do you need?
Editor’s note: This article was previously published in 2011. It was reformatted and republished in 2017.