For current events and entertainment, pick up a copy of The Delhi City Guide, the weekly Delhi Diary, or the monthly First City.
Music, dance & film
A worthwhile daily event is Dances of India, held at the Parsi Anjuman Hall, Bahadur, Shah Zafar Marg (tel. 011/2323-1228 or -8615). One of the most interesting (though touristy) evening shows in Delhi is the sound-and-light show held at Red Fort; most hotels will arrange tickets (Rs 150/$3.40). Call the India Habitat Centre (Lodhi Rd.; tel. 011/2468-2222) for information on theater, film festivals, and other cultural events held almost nightly. Nearby is India International Centre (tel. 011/2461-9431), which also hosts a variety of cultural performances and film screenings (mostly in the cooler months of the year), as does Siri Fort's auditorium (Khelgaon Marg; tel. 011/2649-3370) in South Delhi. Entry to most events is free.
Bars & pubs
Cultural attractions aside, Delhi is in many ways most interesting at nighttime, when the "conspicuous consumers" to whom William Dalrymple refers in his City of Djinns head out and schmooze -- to this end, Djinns (Bhikaiji Cama Place, Ring Rd.; tel. 011/2679-1234), named after Dalrymple's book, is worth a look. Located in the Hyatt Regency, the legendary pub attracts a mixed crowd, though rarely the hard-partying kind -- a group in some ways as varied as the kitsch collectibles that deck the bar, everything from a red London telephone booth to a 1988 Iron Maiden concert poster (with Kiss, David Lee Roth, and Guns 'n' Roses supporting!). Like Djinns, Dublin is a very popular pub that also has a dance floor, though that's not the primary attraction (ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel, Diplomatic Enclave; tel. 011/2611-2233). It has the largest selection of single malts in Delhi, and with its Irish theme decor fancies itself Delhi's most exclusive club. Which is why it's a members- and hotel-guests-only bar. If you want to enter, however, it's easy enough: Wait at the door and just ask -- a member will happily sign you in. Wednesday night is media night, where hacks from all over the city congregate, while on Friday and Saturday DJ Sunny spins popular commercial music -- a mix of fast-paced rhythms from hip-hop to '90s rock and even London bhangra.
For a more genteel and upmarket atmosphere, head to Rick's (1 Mansingh Rd.; tel. 011/2302-6162) at the Taj Mahal Hotel, where you can sip some of the best cocktails in Delhi while watching the city's fashionable set unwind. A DJ (Wed-Sat) plays retro music from 10:30 p.m. onwards. Far more formal, and perhaps a tad demure, is Club Bar (The Oberoi, Dr. Zakir Hussain Marg; tel. 011/2436-3030); relaxed and spacious, and good for cigar smokers, it's the sort of place where you find yourself discussing business deals. 1911 Bar in The Imperial (tel. 011/2334-1234), with its horseshoe-shaped bar, quilted leather Montana chairs, vintage portraits, and stained-glass roof, is an elegant place to enjoy an evening drink; despite the TV stuck on sports channels, it attracts a discriminating clientele that includes expats, celebs, and political bigwigs. Another popular watering hole and lounge is Q'Ba (E 42-43 Connaught Place; tel. 011/5151-2888). It features a funky island bar on the lower level and dining upstairs -- a good place to hang out with travel companions and swap stories. After 8:30 p.m. the DJ plays commercial music.
Buzz (17 Community Centre, P.V.R. Saket; tel. 011/2653-3000) is another design-conscious restaurant/pub located in one of South Delhi's popular entertainment centers. where the cellphone generation gathers to watch Hollywood blockbusters. The crowd is young and self-consciously hip, and the modish decor includes glowing lava-orange wall panels, Roman blinds, contemporary orange chairs, and a glass bar filled with thousands of back-lit marbles. Expect funky lounge music at lunch and even funkier waiters. After 8:30 p.m. a DJ comes on with commercial music; overpriced snacks and starters are available as side orders to precocious-sounding cocktails. Above Buzz is T'zers (tel. 011/2660-1510, -1, or -2), where cocktails are sipped in the presence of trite new beats, while the toned, designer-wear crowd is perched on soft red cushions on metal-framed chairs. Smooth waiters cruise around in bright red shirts, serving a loud urban crowd.
Delhi has its fair share of nightclubs, though most play standard commercial music. The Other Side, downstairs at Turquoise Cottage (81/3 Adhchini, Sri Aurobindo Marg; tel. 011/2685-396), is not one of those, and draws a vibrant crowd. It has exposed brick walls decorated with an assortment of Western-inspired obsessions; one nook is dedicated to vintage cars, another is filled with Rolling Stones album covers, and still another is decorated with saddles. With its black walls and pink lights, Decibel (Hotel Samrat, Kautilya Marg; tel. 011/2467-5293 or -5294) in Chanakyapuri is a trendy nightclub with a large dance floor that draws a jet-setting crowd. DJ Alex spins commercial music while night owls drink excellent cocktails and dance away the calories. If you want to party into the wee hours (5 a.m.), make your way to Elevate (Centre Stage Mall, 5th Floor, Noida tel. 0120/251-3904), a spacious three-story club that plays a variety of sounds including commercial, R&B, and electronic music, with some trance/psychedelic stuff thrown in for good measure. The club regularly has an international DJ playing the latest world trends.
Note: Bars and nightclubs in Delhi can be extremely popular for months, or even years, and then suddenly and inexplicably the crowds stop coming. All the establishments listed above have been popular for a significant period of time and are unlikely to turn into has-beens by the time you get there, but fads and trends guide people's movements, so it's best to ask around once you're there.
For more on what to see and do in Delhi, visit our complete guide online at www.frommers.com/destinations/delhi.
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