How Delhi's Toy Room differentiates itself from other A-lister nightclubs

Frank is a playful chap. He became famous for his parties in London, where he would pop champagne at tables, or get cosy with the ladies at the photo booth. But mostly, he would just run around naked — a few of the advantages of being a giant, furry teddy bear — and a mascot. Frank then began travelling: Dubai, Istanbul, Mykonos, Rome, São Paulo and Athens, before he landed in Delhi and opened another of his all-nighters at the Aloft Hotel in Aerocity. Toy Room is India's first “international nightclub”, and led by a mascot. If you're heading there around 10 pm with the intention of  grabbing a drink, please turn around and return later. Because that's not how things are done at Toy Room.

 

“We open at 10.30 pm,” Vipin Vijay, general manager of operations, tells me. I  had arrived at 9 pm to see how they kick off their nights. Guests started trickling in only two hours later. The limited but exceptional food menu and a range of cocktails kept me busy during my wait.

The club is housed inside a 4,000 sq ft space on the ground floor of the Aloft Hotel. Though Toy Room has its unique vibe, it rivals The Hong Kong Club at Andaz Delhi in the neighbourhood, another place that finds its groove in the afterhours. Vijay claims that Toy Room can accommodate over 400 people, which, I think as I look around, could get tight. I realise later that it’s precisely the point.

 

The entrance is unremarkable for a club that is accompanied with such hype. I expected a big teddy bear to greet me. But once I get past security, Frank, the mascot, is everywhere — as merchandise near the entrance, and as miniatures stuffed inside a glass wall running along the octopus-shaped bar in the middle of a two-sided dance floor. There is neon graffiti of Tupac Shakur and Eminem, Rihanna and Prince, among other faces. Toy Room is an A-listers’ club frequented by celebrities — and they let you know it.

 

How Toy Room differentiates itself from other nightclubs is through pomp and circumstance. “People travel to other countries for a luxurious nightlife, and we’re bringing it to them,” says Akshay Anand, the entrepreneur behind Delhi’s Toy Room. Toy Room serves everything on a silver platter. The first group that arrives around midnight has booked an exclusive table. Champagne bottles arrive in a constant stream, with the whole shebang: female dancers with sparklers, servers in neon helmets with bottles of Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon, and, of course, Frank.

 

Tables can be booked at a minimum (cover) charge of Rs 1 lakh, and a bottle of champagne costs around Rs 50,000. “This brings in about 50 per cent of our business,” says Anand. But it’s not just about shelling out the cash.

 

Anand says that it’s about “profiling” the people right. Unlike many other clubs in Delhi, Toy Room has no cover charge. You can get in either by booking a table or making the guest list, which is through referrals. Even for those on the guest list, there’s another level of profiling. “We don’t want people who pair denims with sports shoes,” says Anand. “One gets to know who’s more likely to request the DJ to play Bollywood, something that just can’t happen.” It is audacious, even officious, but Anand says that’s how the club ensures an even vibe.

 

Around 1 am is when the foot-tapping transforms into serious dancing. It is driven by a charged mix of hip-hop, pop and R&B, and dancers twerking by the pillars.

 

A place like Toy Room takes idioms such as “letting your hair down” seriously. They make it obvious: “Undress me,” reads one large lit-up hoarding. In a place bewitching its guests with stiff drinks, DMX lighting and a licentious atmosphere, you are less likely to be judged even if you were to act as instructed. But hey, at your own risk.


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