Never before have the lines between the old establishment and new age Bombay been so viscerally marked than by Drinking Kulture (DK). After a protracted battle it seems a group of residents have won a legal case to force the closure of DK. Naturally the Connoisseur had to weigh in on the debate.
Firstly, to the owners of the place, hats off. Running an after hours drinking bar in Mumbai is probably the bravest thing any businessman can do. To be constantly harassed by police who are more intent on imposing a warped version of “morality” and extracting money than applying the law, is no mean feat and undoubtedly requires deep pockets, connections and some serious negotiation skills. Word on the grapevine suggests the place is running at a loss, which doesn’t surprise me as it seems the owners have taken on more than just a business but a ‘social cause’ to make sure party goers can carry on into the early hours, sometimes until 7am.
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Those with the pre-conceived notion that any Andheri joint is full of struggling actors, Honey Singh wannabes or vagrant students, need not enter! Its enduring popularity is clear as ever on a Tuesday night when the club is packed with bodies across the 2 rooms and throngs of revellers snake round the side of the adjacent Audi Showroom. In the club, the acoustics are on point. A heavily edited Punjabi track made in a bedroom of some obscure DJ in Ludhiana would sound good over this Martin Audio PA!
Quite remarkably, the venue allows guests to smoke inside (not just sheesha too). This might be legally questionable, but frankly the owners seem bound by a pseudo-Libertarian creed to allow guests to do as they please without harming others. As a non-smoker, I can confidently say there are far more important things to worry about than inducing a bit of passive smoke on a Saturday night!
A “drinking culture” is perhaps the eternal fear of many an older or more conservative mind in India, but the broader question we have to ask ourselves here is what are we trying to prevent….Diversion? Enjoyment? Conviviality? DK has clearly pushed Bombay nightlife into a new realm and tested all conceivable boundaries.
As Mill wrote “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant”
It’s quite apparent that DK has brought little harm to the city and after all is said and done, and the final curtain is drawn, many will remember DK for the audacity in which it showed the proverbial middle finger to the moralizers, bureaucrats and lawyers rooting for its demise from day one.