Grime Riot Disco: Mumbai's subversive dance party

Grime Riot Disco: Mumbai's subversive dance party

Mumbai’s newest anti-party party is named after the city's grungy spirit

The first clue I received for the Grime Riot Disco was via a tattered poster glued askew to a electric junction box in a Bandra by-lane.

The distinctly NoBo-kitsch rendition of an androgynous desi disco-freak immediately took me back to the streets of New York City.

Grime Riot DiscoGuerilla party poster art hits Bandra. Someone had attempted to tear off this particular poster, but most of the drawing -- along with a hint of text and a date -- had resisted removal.

I took it as a cheeky, tenacious herald of an impending guerrilla movement in Mumbai.

Grime Riot Disco is a recurring party supported by a small collective of passionate volunteers and like-minded artists.

The first party took place in November 2010, in a past-its-glory-days club in Khar’s Hotel Ramee Guestline, as a result of several conversations between Monica Dogra, lead vocalist of Mumbai band Shaa’ir + Func, and Anamika Singh of New York City-based event management company Flirteve that’s now set up shack in Mumbai.

“There’s a community of incredibly talented alternative artists and musicians in the city, but not enough venues supporting the kind of artistic expression that reflects them," explains Dogra. "If I wasn’t going to the kind of parties I wanted to, how could I blame others for complaining about the lack of a scene?”

Nightclubbing in Mumbai has become restricted to big clubs that charge exorbitant cover charges, operate a couples-only policy (no matter how well-intentioned or well-dressed a stag you are) and play standard commercial music.

Realizing that cheap booze, groovy tunes and a clean vibe in an unpretentious, safe and welcoming space were key ingredients to their ideal party -- and that they were far from alone in their idealism -- Dogra and Singh set out to create the “anti-party” party, naming it Grime Riot Disco: three words which, they felt, perfectly captured Mumbai’s grungy, explosive beauty.

The idea was to take over small dive bars or past-their-cool-date pubs with otherwise girl-unfriendly and spotty patronage, and give them a cool electro-grit makeover for a night.

The venue would welcome the business; the crowd the low entry charges, affordable drinks and fresh sounds. Making it an invite-only event helped keep the media and non-dancers at bay.

Dogra and Singh -- along with Wetheppl graphic designer Kunal Lodhia -- threw the second Grime Riot Disco party on March 26 in a Bandra dive called Bollywood Mischief, and counted some 200 attendees -- enough for an energetic party vibe and yet not so many as to become an uncomfortable sweat-fest. And this in spite of the apparent absence of a guest-list policy at the door.

The DJ lineup included Mayur of Bandish Projekt as well as DJ Ruskin, whose funky mashups had the crowd bouncing and smiling non-stop.

Disco couture by sporting participants completed the picture, making for a good night out despite the customary 1:30 a.m. shut-down.

I haven’t had that good a time dancing at a Mumbai party in a long, long time.

Like The Wall Project or the Gay Bombay Parties, Grime Riot Disco is a response to Mumbai’s growing hunger for alternative urban expression.

It’s yet to be seen how long and far this idea will go, but it’s certainly a notable entry in the evolving by-dark cultural landscape.

In a city that’s quick to chide and slow to bless, it’d be refreshing to discover enough dedicated volunteers and artists to keep a party like Grime Riot Disco going and growing. 

Grime Riot Disco parties are due to take place once a month. Follow Grime Riot Disco on Facebook to find out when and where the next one is scheduled.

Rayna has been getting lost since she was three years old, and figured she might as well make a living writing about it.
Read more about Rayna Jhaveri