Subcontinental drift

Subcontinental drift

Published: ASIA

Global nightclub brand Pangaea has opened its doors at New Delhi’s Ashok Hotel. Caroline Moss takes to the dancefloor

The Indian branch of Pangaea, named after the supercontinent that existed before landmasses drifted apart, is clearly not going anywhere for the moment. The venue is regularly thronged with the rich and famous, while wannabe clubbers are turned away in their hundreds at weekends.

‘We don’t want our guests to feel as if they’re in India any more; when you come to Pangaea you should get a Miami kind of feel,’ says Rahul Trehan, director (management board) of Smart Entertainment, which owns the India franchise, as he throws open the imposing doors to the New Delhi club. And this statement perfectly reflects the aspirations of India’s moneyed young middle and upper classes, the club’s target audience.

Pangaea New Delhi, which joins the roster of clubs in destinations including London, New York, Miami, Marbella and Singapore, is certainly an international venue. Located within New Delhi’s green and pleasant diplomatic enclave, the club is hardly surrounded by the chaos and turmoil evident in other parts of the city. Nevertheless, to enter Pangaea is to step into another world. The room drips with opulent decadence, from the replicas of Baroque old masters through to the red velvet drapes, ornate chandeliers and mirrors. Discretely installed into this pleasure dome, an Outline PA system and Martin Professional lighting rig supplied by White Eagle Entertainment keep the party going.

‘We’ve created an environment with lighting, sound, and a level of service that’s totally international,’ continues Mr Trehan. ‘Pangaea is a club for the rich and famous, it’s not for everyone.’ This is evident by the price of admission: the entrance fee is 3,000 to 4,000 Indian rupees, ranging through to cover charges of between 50,000 to 100,000 rupees for a table up to 400,000 rupees for the elevated VIP booth. This separates the city’s merely rich from the extremely wealthy.

‘As the entrance is a cover charge, people end up drinking a lot of premium quality alcohol,’ says Mr Trehan, who points out that the VIP area gets booked up weeks in advance, depending on what’s going on. This ranges from a standard fare of ladies nights, Bollywood, open mic karaoke and chill-out through to appearances by international artists and DJs including LMFAO, Kascade, Allure, Hard Rock Sofa, Syn Cole, Max Vangeli and Quintino.

‘I think this is the only club in Delhi which offers this high level of artists, and they are happy to come here because they know what they’re going to get,’ he continues. ‘People know that Pangaea creates the best party in town, and if you’re not here you are missing out. People have to dress to impress – we have a guest list on a Friday to Saturday of 1,500 to 2,000 people and we usually turn away around 800 because they are not properly dressed. There’s another club in the hotel so usually they go there, and try again next time!’

The deal was brokered in 2013 by industrialist Dr Bhupendra Kumar Modi. Dr Modi, who is now a Singapore national, is global chairman of Smart Global, of which Smart Entertainment is a subdivision. Observing that Pangaea at Marina Bay Sands was pulling in a glamorous and affluent crowd, he saw its potential in the fast-developing subcontinent. The timing was spot on. ‘Pangaea wanted to expand to India; it was their first venture here,’ says Mr Trehan. A location was found at the five-star Ashok Hotel, where the F Bar club had previously been, and which is also home to Dr Modi’s pan-Asian restaurant, Nom Nom. ‘We completely tore the place down to the bare walls,’ explains Mr Trehan. ‘The F Bar was a completely different layout; we shifted the kitchen and dancefloor and started all over again.’

The decision to install Outline – which was on Pangaea’s list of approved PA brands – came about after a mutual friend who was handling the club’s CCTV system thought that White Eagle Entertainment would be a good choice of sound system provider. ‘They made it very clear they wanted an international product that was well represented in India, and could provide full support and service, which we were able to guarantee,’ says White Eagle’s managing director, Arun Kalra.

Mr Trehan had previously only heard Outline at a concert in London. ‘Arun brought a system over and demonstrated it for me and I was completely won over,’ he says.

Mr Kalra worked closely with Australian architect Garry Lawrence to design the club. The room itself, although stripped back to a shell, was challenging to work with. ‘Because it’s a very old structure, the challenges were mainly about trying to hang the speakers in the right places, and where we were going to get the support from,’ says Mr Kalra.

Another issue was sound isolation. ‘The sound travels through the pillars right through the hotel, and the PA can sound as loud as a 747 taking off,’ says Mr Trehan. ‘We had to soundproof the whole structure from the floor to the roof.’

Working in very dusty conditions as the new club was constructed, White Eagle’s team made Autocad drawings of the venue and simulated the room acoustics before starting the work of installation. The main section of the club has been installed with a total of six Outline Doppia II 9075 point source speakers and six DBS 18-2i subs positioned around the room. They are joined by four DVS 15 speakers and two Eidos 118 S subs for the bar area, with two DVS 12s as DJ monitors and another two Eidos 118 S subs around the DJ booth. Two Eidos 10 speakers with high size-to-power ratio keep the SPLs up in the VIP area. The whole system is powered by two Outline DPA 1004 digitally processed amplifiers, plus five T Five and four T Eleven amplifiers, with a Genius 412 processor and Master Audio equaliser handling system control and EQ. A Yamaha LS9 digital console is installed in the raised DJ booth, where it is joined by the usual Pioneer CDJs.

‘This is my highest profile club install so far for Outline,’ says Mr Kalra proudly. ‘It’s great to have installed a system into such a successful venture, and it’s also very good to have a venue like this to show people what Outline is capable of.’

White Eagle Entertainment also supplied Martin Professional lights for the club, including Mac 350 Entour LED profiles and Mac 101 compact washlights, together with one of the first High End System Road Hog 4 lighting desks in the world, as the club opening coincided with the launch of the product. Mr Kalra also supplied Pangaea with 30 Griven Parade X-RGW-48 LED strips, two Laserworld CS-1000 lasers and two Martin Professional Magnum 2000 fog machines.

According to the deal with the Ault Group, which owns the Pangaea brand, Smart Entertainment has been contracted to run the club on an ongoing basis, following an initial period of design, branding, training and promotion. And although Delhi clubbers aren’t permitted to party until dawn due to the city’s draconian licensing laws, they know how to have a good time.

‘Our general capacity is around 800, though we have had parties for up to 900,’ says Mr Trehan. ‘We don’t have a dancefloor as such; it’s not a discotheque, it’s a nightclub and we allow people to dance anywhere they want.’ This includes on the couches (stilettoes removed) and the subwoofers themselves. ‘When you’re standing up at the DJ console you want to see different levels of people dancing, not just one flat crowd,’ he explains. ‘It boosts the person playing the music, which in turn creates a great vibe.’

Pangaea New Delhi stands head and shoulders with the brand’s other venues, and is firmly established on Delhi’s nightlife scene, keeping the party going in the Indian capital.

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