Super Club BlueFROG Finally Opens In New Delhi
We wanted to create a place for people like us, and listen to the music we like.
When blueFROG opened its doors four years ago in Mumbai, a collective sigh was heard wafting across various parts of the country. This “integrated music project” is like manna for all members of the concerned food chain in the country: DJs, listeners, artists, reviewers, sound engineers and visual artists alike. It just so happens that blueFROG houses not only one of the finest clubs with one of the best sound systems available, but it also has an incredible studio with cutting-edge technology within its premises. More importantly, their democratic, eclectic stand on music ensures that their calendar has the crème of the electronica crop playing on its stage — we’re talking both national and international — but also, the best of the live sphere, from jazz to fusion. They’ve seen packed floors with diverse artists like Armin van Buuren, Hernan Cattaneo and John Digweed to John McLaughlin, Ustad Zakir Hussain and Angelique Kidjo. That’s just the tip of the iceberg here. Imagine most of the considerable number of artists who have visited India, combine them with the outfits in the country like Jalebee Cartel, Pearl, Midival Punditz and B.L.O.T and then schedule those figures into a packed weekly calendar that’s been running for four years. That’s blueFROG — or The Frog — as it's fondly called, and it’s now opened in Delhi. Can we get an amen?
“It came probably from a drunken conversation that Ashu and I had one night. But more importantly it came from a larger need for a live music venue in Mumbai,” says Mahesh Mathai regarding the origins of blueFROG. Film maker Mathai co-owns the property along with film producer Srila Chatterjee, composers and musicians Ashu Phatak and Dhruv Ghanekar and ex-banker Simran Mulchandani. “It came from a feeling, that if we did something like this, it would surely work. There was nothing calculated about it. We didn’t think the time was right, we just did it,” he adds.
While it may have started off as a second career for all five, a hobby if you will, things quickly changed as the Frog's popularity grew at an phenomenal rate. Mathai thought he’d give it six months, having just finished a film in the U.K. Before he knew it, six turned into two years and its something that is completely full time. He's even moved to Delhi now, along with the club. “We wanted to create a place for people like us, and listen to the music we like. What is different from when we started was none of us was as knowledgeable within the zone of electronic music as we are now. We were all live music listeners,” Mathai relates. “That was the big change for us, going into this whole world of electronica and realizing that the more we opened up, the more there was. Now the bandwidth is huge. Now we’re a club that is equally strong in the live sphere as we are with EDM.”
To create what’s now turned into the mecca of music, the partners found an old warehouse in a compound of mills. This was perfect as that industrial feel was so emblematic of Mumbai. The club itself is built much like an arena. It has series of space age seating pods that cascade down towards a large central dance floor capped off by a grand stage. Those pods, which have now become so symbolic of blueFROG, have found themselves in the Delhi property as well. But this second property has a completely different, more genteel framework. The 7,000 square foot space is housed within an area called The Kila, which was originally a century old serai, or old travelers inn. It's on Seven Style Mile, a road that runs right behind the Qutub Minar and has Olive Bar & Kitchen and Circa 1193 a couple of meters down, not to mention some very posh stores.
It's a smart choice, because it's exactly the sort of place that Delhizens feel right at home at. Roomy, stylish with a bite of the upper crust. While the club is to the right of the entrance, a hallway leads to a lovely central courtyard with an additional bar and tables ideal for a spot of dinner or a sunny lunch. With another fine-dining restaurant and an arts and film museum scheduled to open soon within its perimeters, blueFROG Delhi promises to become a hub for culture and the arts, as well as music. Regarding the latter, the club space itself is more of a rectangle as opposed to the length of its Mumbai counterpart. The prime spots are the large dance floor and stage.
Mathai explains, "It's not a club with a stage, it's stage with a club." It's every bit as space age as Mumbai's Frog with those pods and circular discs on the ceiling just begging for Scotty to beam someone up. So far, the music has sufficed quite adequately as a transporting medium. The private opening saw Paul Thomas busting out stellar house, taking over from Nojazz who played earlier that evening. The proper, welcome-to-Delhi, doors opening happened last night with, who else, but the city's favorite spinmeisters Jalebee Cartel playing to full capacity. They started with their live act complete with vocals, percussion and electric guitars and segued to a groovy, old-school DJ set. An auspicious start, but we expected it to be. As its predecessor, blueFROG Delhi plans to support as many artists and bands as it can and really entrench itself in the roots of the community, and the city is primed to be a part of the experience. As Mathai succinctly concludes, "If you build it, they will come."