Party the night away at these clubs and lounge bars in India’s glitzy capital city, New Delhi.
Party culture in India’s capital city can sometimes seem exclusive, with many members-only bars and most late-night clubs located in high-end hotels. However, there are a few great venues in the city where you can let your hair down, including a tiny jazz room and a gay-friendly drag club. Vivek Gopal, former editor of Vice India and The Caravan, tells us his favourite clubs to party at in Delhi.
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Set in the busy Aurobindo Market in South Delhi, Auro’s third-floor walk-up bar might be daunting, especially if you’re in heels, but this terrace venue is worth the stairs. “It has one of the city’s better sound systems, a dedicated dance floor and a space for mingling,” says Gopal. “The venue also sees the occasional dope Berlin DJ come through.” Beloved by Delhiites for its location – Aurobindo Market is an easy place to meet, no matter which part of the city you’re coming from – Auro is almost always crowded, so be prepared to stand and have to struggle to get a drink at the bar. Once you’re here, order a cucumber and elderflower spritzer (white wine and soda with elderflower syrup and cucumber) to keep you hydrated and happy.
Summer House, also in Aurobindo Market, is located right next to Auro, and you’d be forgiven if you confused them. Summer House has two different levels – the downstairs indoor area has dining tables and a dance floor, while the second-floor terrace has tall chairs and wooden tables, where everyone goes to see and be seen. Gopal notes, “This place is always somewhat busy, and has two stages: one that’s hip-hop and one dedicated to deep cuts and easy listening.” He suggests combining boxout acts with Zomato Gold (a restaurant loyalty programme) and the Coven Code (a women’s/non-binary DJ collective) for a low-cost, intense Wednesday night.
This tiny, dimly lit venue is one of the best places in Delhi to listen to live (mostly jazz) music. Gopal recommends it as one of his favourite music venues in the city. “It has a great smoking area, rich timbre live bands, none of which need a DJ console – a fairly intimate setting,” he says. The smoking area at Piano Man is a glass-windowed room above the stage, from where you can see the whole bar. It’s tiny, so tall people will have to bend almost double, but the low seats offer some of the best views in the house. Be warned, this isn’t a typical dance club; the music takes priority and you will be shushed for talking too loudly if the band is playing.
Delhiites love their whiskey, and Whiskey Samba in Gurgaon (a 30-minute drive from South Delhi) draws crowds from around the National Capital Region. Gopal says, “It has a gorgeous interior, a well-stocked, Instagrammable bar and occasionally great local lo-fi.” On certain nights, he tells us, the bar hosts local DJs such as Pia Collada, Lush Lata and Corridors, and they sometimes do mash-up sets. “It tends to go late and the vibe becomes very club-like.” Try the very Indian Tiny Samba Punch, made from marigold-infused Ballantine’s, lime, syrup, camomile tea and marigold flowers.
With a chequerboard floor to complement its black-and-white theme, Club BW is cavernous, but still manages to always have a jam-packed dance floor. Gopal says, “Club BW plays Punjabi and pop music, catering to broke tourists and thirsty men. It also has one-plus-one drinks ’til 11pm. And it goes late and is queer-friendly.” The cocktails here are basic, but they do have a long list of vodkas you can choose from, plus certain spirits by the bottle.
A club with no fixed address, Dragery is, as the name suggests, a drag collective for people to come together and “explore gender, identity and desire through the form of drag”. Gopal includes it on his list because he says it is “a community party for gender-queer and non-binary folks through dance and drag. The idea is that the dance floor is the most freeing space in all societies.” This is a pop-up event, so keep an eye on the group’s Facebook page to see where they’ll be dancing next, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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