Sunday, March 22, 2009

City Life – Gay Saturdays at Polka Club, Kailash Colony

The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Delhi's Gay Saturday

Chasing the pink rupee.

[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi; picture by Gigi Elmes; this is a visual representation of Polka Club where photography is not permitted]

The place: Polka Club, Kailash Colony, South Delhi. The time: Saturday, 12.36am. Section 377, which criminalizes gay sex, may be well and alive in Indian society, but that doesn't stop gay men in the Indian capital from putting on their dancing shoes.

I'm in Delhi's sole Saturday night gay spot to check out the scene. Previously boys-who-like-boys were restricted to Pegs ‘n’ Pints' legendary Tuesday night. For Delhi's hip homme, PnP, as Pegs 'n' Pints is affectionately known, has the same cultural significance as Studio 54 in late 70s New York. Tucked at the diplomatic enclave of Chankayapuri, PnP was the city's first disco to host a gay once-a-weeker. So, when venturing to Polka Club, I hoped it would live up to PnP stature.

Sadly, from the minute I walked in, the high hopes fell firmly flat. When it comes to the music, Polka Club gets it absolutely one hundred percent totally all wrong. Somebody needs to tell the DJ – "Sir, Bollywood item numbers and camp Kylie are the way forward."

Polka DJ's mix of hip-hop, R&B and dated Hindi hits is leading to murder on the dance floor. "Hey Mr DJ, every gay man wants to be a show-stopping diva while shaking his hips, and can only do that if the music is on his side," says a twenty-something disgruntled patron marching on his heels to the EXIT sign. A sight that is rarely seen in PnP before the 2am closing.

PnP knows how to please the crowd, the DJ deftly spinning Where’s the Party Tonight? with Kylie Minogue’s Your Disco Needs You, bringing the boys to a state of euphoric homo-heaven.

Bizarrely, for a gay club, "drag queens are not permitted" in the Kailash Colony venue. No such ruling exists down the road in Chankayapuri.

"It sounds like a strange complaint but Polka Club is just that little bit too big," says a Lajpat Nagar lawyer. "One of the charms of its Tuesday night rival is its limited space that forces you to get down and dirty with the hottest hunks."

Although both nights attract the same jaded faded tired old faces, under the shiny disco balls of PnP, everyone looks a little more happy, a little more gay. "PnP and Polka may attract the same queens but for whatever the reason, on Tuesday night they have more sparkle," says an English dandy waif.

Manish Sharma, the organizer of Polka, is chasing the pink rupee, targeting gay clientele with weekly sms messages about just how hip and happening his party is. The unique selling point of the most recent sms is the club's "improved air-conditioning". Great. Cool. Thanks for that, Manish. But please when you are chasing gay for pay, get the music right. "We boys don't mind getting hot and sweaty," says a club regular, "but at least let us get hot and sweaty to Aishwara Rai's Kajra re."

Where First Floor, 4, Kaliash Colony Main Market, next to Maxim's cake shop When Saturday, 9.30pm onwards


Anonymous said...

To-day, I go consort with nature's darlings--
to-night too,

I am for those who believe in loose delights--I share the midnight orgies of the young men.

I dance with the dancers, and drink with the drinkers,

The echoes ring with our indecent calls,

I take for my love some prostitute--I pick out some low person for my dearest friend,

He shall be lawless, rude, illiterate--he shall be the one condemned by the others for deeds done;

I will play a part no longer--why should I exile myself from my my companions?

Give me now libidinous joys only!

Give me the drench of my passions! Give me life coarse and rank!

"Native Moments"
Walt Whitman

Anonymous said...

I am a transvestite/drag-queen and I have had no such problems in PnP. I have been to PnP once in the past and I had a great time. I found my boyfriend there and was even asked out by others. Sad to hear about the ban. It's unfair. What I like about PnP is the "chalta hai" carefree attitude, which I hardly find elsewhere. The people were decent.

Anonymous said...

Well, it is true the arrangements at these nights are completely horrid. But I should like to differ with the people who compare it to Pegs n Pints and say the latter is better. For the truth is, they're both really quite bad.
The organisers at Polka seem to have completely missed out on the 'pink' factor beyond managing to entice the rupee in that colour. Come to think of it, any place in Delhi that decides to hold a gay night will get the pink rupee in abundance. But that's where they probably go singing all the way to the bank, and leave the pink people high and dry.
To start with, entering the place feels like a mix of taking a flight from Delhi airport, helping Delhi police solve a murder mystery and commuting in Ring Road traffic. Why can't there be two people taking the money? Why do the bouncers have to be so thuggish? Why is there nobody to smile at the people walking in? Why is the whole place so dirty and Paharganj-standard? And, pray why are straight couples allowed entry?
Then, why is there only one man at the bar to make drinks for two hundred customers? All the others look like they know how to pour vodka out of a bottle into a glass, but they don't. And why don't they realise gay people usually like fancy cocktails? Why don't they even know what tonic means? Why don't they have Red Bull? Why do they have to use their fingers to add ice to your drink? Why are the glasses so chai-at-dhaba style?
It's true they've worked on the airconditioning, but they also seem to have worked on their laser system, which is in a very accurate Christmas combination of red and green. This laser 'show' is so blindingly efficient that the whole place feels like 24 December at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Only there, it makes some sense.
The music. You know that song from the film Delhi6 that all the Indian women sing about how good or bad their in-laws are? This DJ sort of added some old Ace of Base type background beat to it and now plays it three times every Saturday night. The 'Western' music gets relegated to the very early half-hour or so, and the most modern track on that list is World Hold On. So it's a compulsory retro night every night. And, to top it all, it's always the same music in the same sequence. One wonders why they have the DJ at all - one tiny iPod could probably do his entire job, plus at least shuffle the tracks every now and then.
But all this would be of no consequence, and the gathering would be really quite tolerable, if only the people were not the same set as one sees/meets/makes eyes at/avoids brushing against at PnP and every other gay 'do' in the country. The same old queens, the same old goras and Eastern Europeans, the same Israelis. And even the same rentboys. I've had enough, I realised at about 1 am on my third Saturday night there.
But, Pegs n Pints is not much better. I expect given the time that that has had its run, Polka will find it easy to get to that niveau. Until then, I for one will go on spending my weekends at home, or, as we like to say in Delhi, at 'private parties, dahling'.