City Life – Gay Saturdays at Polka Club, Kailash Colony

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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