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Curfewed: Bangalore’s Extended Nightlife

Sound Plunge

Curfewed: Bangalore’s Extended Nightlife

With Banglore’s nightlife extended on weekends for a three month period, we take a look at how not only restaurants and pubs, but the music scene is also starting to benefit.

Bangalore has had it tough for the past eight years. Tight restrictions on nightlife and entertainment first curbed the scene to a standard 10 pm end. Then came the ban on live music. Political parties citing ethical and societal causes restricted the free playing of music in public areas. As a result, the city bore an almost barren, deserted look post 11pm on most days, even spurring on the etymology of one of Bangalore’s liveliest acts Live Banned.

Now, however, the scene is picking up. With a new extended curfew on 1am on Friday and Saturday nights, Bangaloreans are really enjoying themselves to the fullest. The curfew, which is on trial basis for three months, allows licensed bars and pubs to stay open till 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, and restaurants and eateries can remain open till 1am every day. With dance clubs and bars open till late, lounges and cafes hosting shows and a lively feel on the roads at midnight, the city is slowly picking up pace again. Bars and restaurants are thrilled about being able to cater to the upper and middle classes till 1am, both in terms of food and alcohol. A decently large metropolitan city like Bangalore is a bustle of activity 24/7 and to much of its population, the curfew was quite a restriction. Until only a few years ago, the Hotel Empire chain of restaurants was actually the only eatery possibly open post 11pm. Now, there is a much wider selection of choice for the midnight foodie or the hungry tech employee as not only restaurants, but pubs remain open.

At Fireflies Festival of Music

At Fireflies Festival of Music

Before the extended deadline, it was commonplace for gigs to end at 10pm, and thus, Fireflies festival of music was one of the few yearly events where Bangaloreans could enjoy a full night-out with live music. A secluded venue down Kanakpura, all sorts of national acts have performed here, at an amphi-theatre that sees the music go on till sunrise. After four highly successful editions, Fireflies became the name affiliated to an annual break-free-of-the-curfew.

Musically-inclined venues are now starting their live shows much later (9pm) and going on till 1am, making full use of the extended curfew. A gig last month at Counterculture, Indie March, saw the likes of Skrat, The F16’s, Parvaaz and Until We Last in a show that went on till well over midnight. The reason for such emphasis is that Bangalore, in the last two decades, has literally never seen a night like that, due to its live music bans and curfew restrictions. The free expression inherent in rock shows gave the very same shows a weird vibe by having to switch off and go home by 10pm. Now, with no such curfew, music fans can listen on well through the night. Many non-Bangalorean national acts are also now showing a renewed interest in the local music scene. Playing national shows, many acts have found it very disappointing to come down to Bangalore and only get to play till 10pm. Now with expanding venues and an extended curfew, many national-level bands are showing a more active interest in gigging at Bangalore.

Clubs have also really opened up in the last month or so since the extended curfew. DJ’s start their mixes at a much later point in the night and people now only usually arrive by 10pm. Dance parties happening at venues like Pebbles, F Bar and Royal Orchid, see flocks of die-hard EDM, Techno, House and Psy-trance fans thronging in continually at later hours. Other, more clichéd and established venues like Hard Rock Café and BFlat are also benefiting tremendously from the extended deadline. With large batches of the city’s prominent IT crowd partying on most weekends, business has gotten exponentially better, both in terms of food and beverage, and footfall for music shows or DJ dance parties.

Venues like Hotel Royal Orchid are perfect for late night parties

Venues like Hotel Royal Orchid are perfect for late night parties

Dheeraj Kumar, an active propagator of the curfew extension along with Mark Rego and the Professional Cell team, was one of the people primarily responsible for the change. Having been hired to sort out the government website, he went on to chart out how exactly a 24/7 nightlife would be beneficial to every strata of society, and not increase the crime rate. Getting the open-minded home minister KJ George to take a more organic approach to the nightlife extension, Dheeraj is now part of the congress committees too. He describes his long term aim, “the city should be open 24/7. Pharmacies and food joints must be available through the night for the masses of people working night shifts, and public structures and transport must be setup to facilitate such crowds. It’s a good change now that bars and restaurants are open till 1am on weekends, but the city should have a nightlife for everybody.”

Thus, we see that an extended curfew might just be what the city needs to kick-start its serious night-life culture of parties and live music. With the Bangalore Police having invested in a new range of patrol cars to keep the streets safe at night, it looks like the curfew may extend to all the days of the week.

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