The Rookie's Guide To A Night Out In New Delhi
22 April 2016
You’re standing in front of a large, expensive looking metal gate somewhere deep inside the lower intestines of Sainik Farms, trying to fish out some cash to pay a bored cabbie while your sloshed new friend rushes out for a quick piss next to a sign that says ‘B/42 MALHOTRAS’.
It’s already 3 am. You spent the last half hour trying to find the damn place, navigating empty streets shrouded in velveteen blackness. There are points of lights scattered at uncertain distances and odd, completely misguiding signs - which, instead of leading you to the right house, took you the edge of the Farms, to wastelands of building debris and the odd gnarled tree, where you wonder “is this where I die”?
Anyone who goes out on a semi-regular basis in Delhi has been there. Partying and our Delhi “night life” is so uniquely odd that we decided to document it as best as we could, while also creating a kind of rough (read questionable) guide for when you’re out.
Lets start at the beginning.
The fate of your night out is decided on how you pregame. Drinks-wise, you want to be sufficiently inebriated to have a good time, but not drunk enough to be the girl vomiting and crying into the bin outside Summer House at 11pm (no judgement though, this is a safe space).
This is also the only part of the night where you’re sober enough to choose who you hang out with, so pick your peers for the night wisely.
Prepare to sponsor the drinks if you’re pre-gaming at your own house because your co-dependant drinking buddy will walk in with 1/16th of the booze he actually promised and a half consumed can of Schweppes ginger ale as a mixer. Don’t mooch, the least you can do before defiling your hosts’ sheets later that night is bring your own alcohol. This holds equally true if you’re female – gone are the times when we can expect booze to come flying at us for free (alright, that’s a lie but it’s the polite thing to do). Keep it cheap and stick to Old Monk if you’re feeling patriotic, or whiskey if you’re the kind of person who claims they can tell the difference between a scotch and single malt (while drinking Antiquity).
If your idea of pre-gaming is getting dinner-and-drinks-with-friends at the kind of place that doesn’t even stock Sula and serves regional food from an ‘unconventional’ state you didn’t know had their own cuisine, I aspire to be you.
People of Delhi, this isn’t personal, but none of you should be driving. It’s terrifying to go zigzagging through traffic in cars driven by said car owners – almost always the hosts of farmhouse after parties. They’ll say they’ll feel bad crashing their new Skoda Yeti, and they might feel it too, but somewhere deep inside their hearts, they’re getting a kick out of giving daddy a heart attack.
More importantly - why have a driver if you’re going to make him sit at the back, knuckles white from clutching on to the handle, eyes widening and stomach dropping every time you go ‘wheeee’? Do1697133't be an ass, let him take you all home safely.
Get a cab - or just take an auto. Unless you’re in the mood to spend an hour attempting to get out of Hauz Khas at 1am (or accidentally graze a black Honda City and get beaten up by the guy who is still against all better judgement wearing Ed Hardy).
It’s 11pm already because everyone only left the house at 10:30. But you’re here now!
You’re weaseling your way in but there’s entry today – 200 bucks inclusive of a drink – so now you have to wait for the bearded, pastel shirted guys up front insisting that they’re on the guest list to enter. They’re “bff’s” with the promoter and they’re refusing - point blank - to cough up (these are same guys who dropped 7K just hours earlier for little ziplocked baggie of unscented baby powder). The bouncer is rapidly losing patience trying to explain how paying for entry will really help them save money, so they do the logical thing by slipping him some cash under the table and smugly smiling their way in.
It’s your turn now to take a deep breath, walk in and see the same faces you see on most weekends. You glide past conversations ranging from your usual gossip and cringe-worthy flirtation to the bro discussion on their latest food-startup. Duck away from girl who’s trying to hide the fact that she’s been crying and hold a conversation like everything’s chill. Good old backpack guy - he’s robotically moving up front, staring unblinkingly at every pore on the artists’ sweaty face, just waiting for him to finish his set so he can tell him he knows exactly where he picked up the sample for that one song. Then there’s the person you’ve already stalked the shit out of on social media and you can tell by the way they’re boring into your mind with their eyes that they’ve stalked the shit out of you too. If you end up talking, remember to act surprised when they tell you about their recent promotion and trip to Thailand.
You’ve weaved your way through the crowd (skirting past the guy in the v neck who refers to himself as an ‘entrepreneur’) to the dance-floor with your friends.
Savour the next 20 minutes of your night, because it’s already 12:05 and the cops are standing outside, eyebrows furrowed and arms akimbo.
Image Credit: Frozen Pixels Studio
THE AFTER PARTY
You’ve come full circle to being utterly lost in Sainik Farms. How did you get here?
The premature termination of parties and music in Delhi (and most of India) forces patrons to be unceremoniously ejected from bars into the streets like drunk, confused infants. Once the initial fear and bewilderment has died down, your next step is to find a semi-decent house party, preferably without the hosts’ aging parents lurking about.
Proximity is key, and in an optimal situation you go back to the same place you pre-gamed with all the people whose company you enjoy in tow. But bad judgment and crippling fomo will cause you to make some dubious decisions.
Ideally, you should know (or at least know of) the host. Friendship by this point is far too much to ask for. If you find a house that isn’t a complete sausage fest – congratulations. Your only job now is to relax, not break anything or overstay your visit. Easy. You drink, make merry and leave when the host puts on their pyjamas and begins to radiate a quiet, passive aggressive rage.
But the more interesting side to after-partying in Delhi has to be the seedy yet highly enjoyable underbelly that are the large gardened and walled farmhouses that normally line the outskirts of the city. This is where most of us have ended up at some point.
So you walk in, amazed at the number of people who actually managed to navigate their way here. The music is terrible and someone’s trying to get a beer pong table going despite the rapidly depleting supply of booze. The host is standing clutching onto his Glen, smiling in a corner, admiring his brand new contingent of best friends. The tinder match that was furiously sharing saliva outside Hokey Pokey is making their way inside the house via a back kitchen door, through Mrs. Aggarwal’s vegetable patch. A confused band of expats in button downs wanders in. This is when you realize that you’ve made a mistake.
Things are finally winding down at 5am and you decide to call it a night. Someone’s slumped snoring on your shoulder in the car back home, a trickle of drool making its way to their chin, and you decide ‘never again’. It’s time for change, a better lifestyle. No more dumb after parties, its time to do the adult thing and spend your weekends at home, spending time with people you actually like.
But next Saturday, 2am, you’re hurtling down a road on the back seat of a car blasting ‘Wakhra Swag’, terrified out of your wits on your way to some house somewhere while the friend who made these plans loudly assures you that this night’s going to be ‘lit’. So you save your promises for the next week, and hope for the best.
Words: Diya Gupta
Image credit (main) courtesy antiSOCIAL
Image credit (thumb) courtesy Bandstand