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Dancing for profits

By Maitreyee Handique in New Delhi
August 13, 2004 13:18 IST
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Disco may be dead, but dancing is still in. On August 13, Elevate, the newest weekend nightclub will make its commercial debut at the Centrestage Mall in Noida following a soft launch last week. Come September 16, another nightclub called Eau is expected to open at Le Meridien hotel in central Delhi.

Three months ago, Mirage, located at Crowne Plaza Surya in Delhi's New Friends Colony, reopened after undergoing extensive renovation with a fresh regal nameplate -- Royal Mirage. Mumbai-based Athena is reportedly bringing in its popular club brand to the Park Royale hotel in south Delhi soon.

After lounge bars, the dance floor is creating waves. And in a city where people are left with very few options to let their hair down other than private parties, nightclub companies are hoping that they can fill in the demand gap.

Elevate, for instance, has already pumped in Rs 4.5 crore to make the 14,000 sq ft club the most happening address to shake a leg. For special effects, it hired UK-based light and sound expert Dave Parry and design firm Igloo to turn it into a cutting edge entertainment zone.

While Eau will have a dedicated wine section to promote dancing with wine, Elevate will organise breakfast buffets to conclude party nights.

"We want to create a dance culture much like the Ministry of Sound and Fabric in London," says Monty Chadha, director, Elevate Entertainment Ltd.

"We hope to regularly bring in foreign acts and invite DJs from overseas to play house and electronic music," he says.

Targeted at youth in their 20s, night clubs rely on music like electronic and house for impact. "I wanted to stay away from lounge bars and create a place where people can dance," says Kunal Malhotra, owner of Crowne Plaza Surya.

Inspired by the Moulin Rouge in Paris, Malhotra hired interior designers Rohit Tewari and M A Matin to create an opulent mix of Arabian and French decor.

Night clubs require bigger investments than lounge bars or pubs as they need larger spaces, costly sound systems and constant promotional events. Given that the life cycle of a nightclub is limited to not more than three years, the entrepreneurs are careful about spreading their risks.

Eau, for instance, will have a dedicated South-east Asian restaurant called Monsoons next door. The nightclub itself will function as a lounge bar during the day and make slots for private parties.

It will also promote the place among corporates with freebies like half-hour Internet usage and use of projectors for meetings as they dine.

"Today, the offering has to be multi-pronged, it has to be a bit lounge bar, and a bit of a dancing place," says Siddharth S Chaudhury, who has signed up a management lease contract with Le Meridien for Eau.

Chaudhury runs the nightclub Capitol in Delhi as well as the largest club in Mumbai called Velocity, which boasts of a 20,000 sq ft floor space.

Elevate, meanwhile, will only be a weekend nightclub; the rest of the week will be devoted to corporate conferences and private parties. Meanwhile, Royal Mirage will function as a nightclub from Wednesdays to Saturdays. The rest of the week will be reserved for private parties.

That leaves us with the question, does Delhi have enough people willing to dance through the week? Going by the levels of interest in nightclubs, times may be changing.
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Maitreyee Handique in New Delhi