Leading up to the India Nightlife Convention & Awards, we take a look at a venue that changed the nightlife across the city that never sleeps. Join us as we take these conversations offline at the INCA on the 30th of September and 1st October at the Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai. Register here. Buy tickets here.
To party in Mumbai today is to know pain. Picking from the hundreds of possible venues, battling bumper to bumper traffic, fighting your way to the overcrowded bar for an overpriced drink and then spending the rest of the night being deafened by music you hate. Yeah, ‘partying’ is a goddamn treat. Our jaded cynicism aside, the truth is that Mumbai is one of the most sought after destinations in the country for musicians and revellers alike. But once upon a time, any plans to go out simply meant heading to the one spot in South Bombay. The one that started it all and became the most iconic club of the 1980’s - Studio 29.
This members-only venue wandered into the spotlight just as the city teetered on the brink of a cultural revolution. At the time, the only late night venues were in five star hotels and the idea of a stand alone party venue was unheard of. But a small section of Mumbai’s more worldly elite were determined to bring a taste of Western liberation to the city.
Sabira Merchant, the brains behind the operation modelled the space after Studio 54 in New York, hoping to capture some of their carefree, bohemian spirit. With scarlet walls, shimmery curtains and a shiny disco ball, they marched onto the scene turntables in tow and introduced Mumbai to the meaning of D.I.S.C.O. With their signature lighting and international playlist they also became a sought after venue for fashion shows, hosting hundreds of events during their run and showcasing the biggest names in fashion at the time.
At the height of their popularity they had around 700 paid members and the daily guest list read like a who’s who of Bollywood royalty. Though their reign was short-lived with declining numbers and labour disputes forcing them to close their doors by 1985, even today 3 decades on, the name Studio 29 is remembered fondly as the great grandaddy of Mumbai nightlife.