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Sunday, December 05, 2021

Don’t ask for a midnight dance in Bangalore

It’s being called the ‘Talibanisation of Bangalore.’ Dharam Singh’s capital has gone a step ahead of R.R. Patil’s M...

Written by Johnson T A | Bangalore |
August 13, 2005

It’s being called the ‘Talibanisation of Bangalore.’ Dharam Singh’s capital has gone a step ahead of R.R. Patil’s Mumbai as moral police have brought night life in India’s most international city to a grinding halt.

A new law ‘Licensing and Controlling of Public Entertainment (Bangalore City) Order, 2005,’ originally introduced to curb the unregulated growth of dance bars/cabarets, or ‘live-band joints’ as they are known in Bangalore, has pulled the shutters on night life in the city.

The law which came into force on June 24 is seeing owners of not just cabarets but also lounge bars, restaurants and discotheques struggling to meet stringent licensing conditions.

As many as 49 establishments, falling into different brackets, have sought licenses for entertainment under the new rule but none has been granted since the police have not been satisfied with compliance.

So the work-hard, party-hard city is now being tucked into bed by 11:30 pm.

At restaurants and lounge bars—with or without dance floors—owners these days get into a nervous tizzy even if clients tap their feet or nod too vigourously to the music. Over 150 plainclothed policemen are on the prowl to book anybody, dancer or owner, for dancing without a license.

‘‘You can be arrested for dancing. You also cannot play music that provokes dancing. We have had to put sofas and fill spaces to prevent customers from dancing,’’ says Amardipta Biswas, owner of Taika and Cosmo Village, two of the city’s in-vogue lounge bars and restaurants.

‘‘A lot of the live music in hotels in the city was real good clean fun. The politicians have now taken this to an absurd level and the controls imposed are beyond commonsense,’’ says writer and food critic Ajit Saldanha.

‘‘DJs have been prevented from playing music at nightspots as they incite people to dance. Night clubs have been told to play classical music, so people do not dance,’’says Biswas.

Under the new law, places that support good music, theatre and dance have been equated with cabarets or dance bars—under the banner of ‘public entertainment’.

The law was rolled out on May 23 after the state legislature in February witnessed protests over the unregulated growth of dance bars in Bangalore. Chief Minister and Home Minister Dharam Singh had then promised curbs or a ban on the dance bars.

‘‘The definitions in the law are so vague that they not only fail to clarify, but further confuse the distinction between a sleazy girlie-bar and a well-reputed restaurant and lounge bar,’’ say members of the newly formed Bangalore Resto-Lounge Bar and Discotheque Owners Association.

Among those hard hit by the new law are people who entertain international clients and business associates in the city. ‘‘I do a fair bit of work with international partners who come to Bangalore often. Many ask me for the watering hole in the city. All I can point at is the do-not-drink and do-not-dance regime in this international city,’’ says Harish Bijoor, a management consultant.

Bangalore’s police, however, have a different take on the crackdown. They say they are merely implementing the law. ‘‘The law has not been made by the police. The government has done it taking into account the considerations of society. What a small percent of people want may not be good for the entire population,’’ says Bangalore’s police commissioner Ajai Kumar Singh.

‘‘The new law is for the good of the people. Why should people stay out late and spoil their own health. We have spoken to a lot of people and learnt that the law has not affected them,’’ says Deputy Commissioner of Police (admn) B Shivakumar.

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