It was a Saturday and we decided to take it easy during the day so that we could be well rested to head out and see some of the Mumbai night life. After doing some research online, I came up with a few bars that seemed very hip: Trilogy, Aer, China House Lounge, Canvas and Austrus. Aer and Austrus boasted about their amazing roof top patio views of the Mumbai coast. Some of these clubs were fairly pricey, cover charge at Aer was about 3000 rupees or about 50 CAD. A majority of them were hosted in upscale hotels so that they could presumably keep open later in the morning hours.
Our original plan was to head out with some of Kiran’s friends for dinner before checking these bars out but unfortunately things came up and they had to cancel. The temperamental thing about night life is that it’s a very fast changing scene and without local help you’re night could go very sour and be great depending on if you’re lucky. It looked like it would be just Kiran and I heading out without knowing what to expect in this wild city.
We then luckily got an invitation from a contact, Mayuri, we had made in Mumbai to come out with some of her friends to a couple of clubs, the Owl and Tilt. Apparently there was an amazing gig going on at Tilt that we had to check out.
With that in mind, we still wanted to check out some of the bars we researched to get the night started. So our plan was to head to China House Lounge, Aurus for the rooftop patio and then maybe meet up with our friend, Mayuri and her friends.
Kiran and I hopped on the local train to get to the bar and off began our night. The train journey took us about 40 mins and we ended up walking for a bit looking for the Grand Hyatt Hotel where China House Lounge was housed. The streets were busy and dark with no indication of any sort of hotels, let alone something with the grandeur of a Grand Hyatt. But we turned a dark alley and around another corner and there it was sitting in an area we never thought to find a hotel like this.
Gated and patrolled by guards we walked through the gates. It became apparent nobody WALKED through the gates, people DROVE through. Ritzy cars and people dressed very well being dropped off neatly at the front.
We headed straight for the lounge but found out it didn’t open 10pm. Bummer.. But since we had came all this way we decided to have dinner here and have a drink in the lounge before heading to Aurus.
Dinner was fairly fancy and we found it interesting how different the vibe was in this place. It was definitely catered towards tourists with no Indian dishes available and the waitress even reverted back to English whenever Kiran tried speaking Hindi with her.
After finishing dinner we headed to the lounge and we realized we had mistakenly ate at a different restaurant and the China House was actually next door! The place we ate at was an Italian place which explained the menu items.
The decor of China House was very beautiful and we scuffed, thinking we had wasted a good opportunity to eat here. No matter, straight to the lounge… but the lounge was actually downstairs through a stair case and then outside around a corner.
We had finally got there and eagerly waiting to get in the bouncer at the front told us they only allowed couple entry into the club. Which meant we needed to have 2 girls accompany us.. Ahhh brutal! I guess this is how they kept the ratios good inside.
With a rough start to the night we decided to skip Aurus and head straight to meet up with Mayuri and her friends at Tilt. At least we might have a chance to get into the club.
On to the train we go and another 30-40 mins later we had arrived at the station. We get off and started walking and realize quickly that this area is much quieter and seemingly residential. This kind of scared us a bit but we forged on to find this place. Again we walked for about 15 mins and having difficultly finding the place were about to give up on the entire night. The venues here looked terrible and almost make shift. No way a nice club could be tucked away.
And then it was there.. Tilt. An older brick building with a busy entrance. Youthful attractive Indians dressed better than anybody we’d see since our trip started, making their way inside.
Great, now we just needed to get in! It was about 11:45 pm at this point. We meander inside, half expecting more trouble to get in as we make our way to the front of the line. This time however, the doorman looked at us and just said “1000 rupees each.” We breathed a sigh of relief, gladly forked over the money and quickly made entry into the club.
Surprisingly the venue was quite nice. The decor was very trendy with funky chandeliers and arrays of lights that would change colours.
The people though were even more interesting. Mostly packed with locals, these kids were easily upper middle class if not upper class in Mumbai. Sharply dressed it was quite the contrast to the traditional Indian attire we had become accustomed to on the streets. It reminded me of Calgary. Their were some visible expats but mostly the club was dominated with locals. The women by the way were also stunning.
Mayuri was running late and came to the bar alone just to meet us since her friends were still staying at the other place. We hit it off quickly and made fast friends. She had lived aboard and we chatted about the differences of the nightlife compared to here. She had told me the club was more of an underground local scene and to avoid the normal tourist bars. Basically you gotta know what’s happening to know where to go. Wow I thought, we were really lucky to even really be here and this was really an authentic look at Mumbai night life.
The band was the cherry on the top, an electronic duo from Germany, called Tube and Berger. They mixed electronic violin into their music and made for very rhythmic melodies.
With all the key ingredients, we partied and danced the night away. As we closed the bar down Mayuri’s friends joined us and we all got along quite well. It was around 3am and we stumbled out of the club. The other clubbers were also leaving and piling into their BMW’s and fancy cars. Clearly they had a lot of money.
Still buzzing from the great show our night was not finished yet as we all decided to head to Mayuri’s for an after party. We hopped in a taxi and they took us to West Bandra.
We needed drinks though, but surely nothing was open at 3 am!? I was wrong and as we entered the community the cab stopped by a road side corridor with a young Indian standing outside. We rolled down our window and gave him our order. Half a bottle of old monk rum and a coke. He scurried off to make our order as we waited in the cab. Coming back he gave us a bag with everything and old us it was 300 rupees or about 5 CAD. Amazing.. We need this back home.
We arrived at Mayuri’s and quickly made ourselves comfortable. She lives in a beautiful one bedroom decorated with a mix of Japanese and Indian trinkets. She told me she pays about 30,000 rupees a month which is about 500 CAD. Something still cheaper but comparable to the prices we have in Canada.
With a more intimate setting we crack our drinks and start chatting with everyone while we listened to some music in the background. It was about 5 am before we were all fairly exhausted and decided to call it a night. We thanked Mayuri for the hospitality and we were on our way.
We were about 30-40 km away from home still when we managed to flag a rickshaw of all things and began the long journey back. It winded up and down the empty streets and about 40 mins later we were home. The ride costing about 230 rupees or 4 CAD.
We stumbled inside and as I crashed in my bed I was still digesting the night. Man what a fun night..still in a little bit of disbelief that we had a rare glimpse into the sheek young cosmopolitan life of the wealthier Mumbai locals.