Party to the Indian beat

Loud, boisterous laughter breaks the stillness of a Friday night at Boat Quay. The streets are turning alive with lights, music and people - many looking to destress after a hard week's work.

While popular bars like Mogambos and Baa Baa Black Sheep have the thirsty white-collared brigade streaming in for a pint or two and a good late night with international music, there are several others among them who are itching for some Indian beats.

And these days, they rarely get disappointed as there is almost never a dearth of Indian entertainment in Singapore after 11pm on a weekend - be it the Bollywood dhol beats or south Indian music.

In Circular Street sits Club Colaba. Do not misunderstand its dark doors, for the posh ambience interior would catch anyone by surprise. Beautiful Indian dancers greet those who walk in, all decked up in Indian wear and dancing to popular Hindi numbers.

Club Colaba is one of the few mujra-themed clubs or dance bars in the area. Others include Khazana and Krishz along the same street, just a few doors away. Mujra is a form of dance originating from the courtesans during the Mughal era and they used to perform classical dances like kathak.

These days, the dancers, mostly from north India, perform to heart-racing Bollywood numbers. And there are many party goers who kick off their weekend by sipping a few drinks with friends while watching these professionally-trained dancers in action.

Deflecting rumours of the sleaze element, Club Colaba owner Ajay Agarwal makes it a strict policy to deter any form of hanky panky in his nightclub.

He said: "We believe in quality entertainment and we're not about sleaze. We're about a good time and good music. This place opens its doors not only to men but to women as well who feel safe being here. In fact, they enjoy themselves tremendously."

Mr Agarwal, who owns another dance bar called Bollywood Dhoom

located just a few feet away from Club Colaba, obviously knows his customers. After all, Bollywood Dhoom is one of the oldest bars in the vicinity, having had a decade's presence in Boat Quay.

Pointing out that his customer base for both places varies from middle-aged north Indian men to a younger crowd that even includes women, he added: "We even have the ang mohs (Caucasians) coming in for beers on Friday nights."

This friendly, multiracial mood is what draws young customers like Amritpal Kaur. "I feel entirely comfortable in the setting," said the 20-year-old student, adding: "I grew up with Bollywood music and clubs like this can always guarantee good music. With great company and a couple of drinks, your night is set. Plus, over here there are so many options to choose from."

True enough, along the Boat Quay stretch itself there are several Indian dance bars to choose from. And according to Mr Rakesh Belani who owns Kanggan, Krishz and Kajjal - all located on the same strip - the competition is healthy.

"Each bar is different. The entertainers are different and patrons don't just go to one club. They go everywhere," he said. Mr Belani also owns the recently-renovated Khel, located in Kitchener Road.

While his clients do club-hop, it seems the young Indian crowd has an agenda... a dance floor, according to Ms Symaren Kaur. "For my friends and me, a dance floor is a must in any Indian club.

We Indians need to dance to our songs," said the 25-year-old administrative assistant.

Besides dance bars, there are also more relaxed options for people who just want to relax with a drink.

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