The continuous evolution of popular culture has brought us ever so close to our icons. Maybe not through direct communication but definitely through their many expositions. These interactions, in the form of live performances, curated effectively in front of an audience hungry for newer experiences is essentially what keeps the tab rolling at both ends of the spectrum. Kolkata, a city once adored for its world class artists, and its people, reputed across lands for their rich taste in all forms of art, had fallen from grace when the likes of Mumbai and Bangalore started moving ahead in terms of live performances
Historically, performances in local places, especially in cafes and pubs were the most sought after way of discovering new and emerging artists. But all that has changed, thanks to the emergence of new media and the decreasing time for leisure from the lives of city dwellers. Recently, in what can only be described as a comeback of trends, the continuous quest of finding newer experiences has again brought us back to people appreciating live performances in enclosed spaces and Kolkata is slowly catching on to the bar set by the other metropolis. From live music to stand up comedy, poetry slam, and art exhibitions, a number of cafes and pubs have mushroomed in the city that have become hotspots of these events. With cozy ambience, a delectable selection of food and beverages and the promise of a new experience at every visit, these places are at the forefront of this resurgence in live performances.
282 Jodhpur Park Road
From intimate theatres and book launches to live music and poetry recitation, Abar Baithak, a café at Jodhpur Park, has become one of the favourite hang out spots for the people of this city. Started back in 2014, Abar Baithak organises these events every Sunday from 10 am in the morning and has also become a sought after place by the artists to showcase their talent. Abar Baithak also doubles up as a bookstore and you get that quintessential Bangaliana vibe at every visit. ‘A cultural hub’, was owner Swaralipi Chatterjee’s vision while setting up Abar Baithak and it stands true to its values till date, encouraging adda and giving the talented artists of this city a platform to perform.
Shisha Bar Stock Exchange
22 Camac St, Block D, 5th Floor
Shisha started out as a nightclub in 2003 but has transformed itself into a pub with a stock exchange concept in the last two years. Shisha’s USP lies in the fact that it holds acoustic Bollywood nights every Thursday which sees a huge surge in the crowd. Sufi, folk and contemporary being the main verticals, the band on stage is given plenty of time to seduce the audience with their groovy tracks. This personalised interaction between the artist and the audience is the sweet essence of a pub and Shisha, after it’s rebranding, has emerged as a favoured destination. Moving ahead, Shisha plans to hold standup comedy events as well.
21/2 Gariahat Road
Started back in August 2016, First Flush aims at promoting the independent music scene of Kolkata. Tucked away in one of the lanes of Gariahat, this Café has a boutique demeanor and an artistic appeal to it. With a pledge of supporting upcoming musicians, First Flush has hosted varied genres like Eastern Classical, Modern Bengali, Folk, Blues and Jazz. Social media being one of the most favoured modes of reaching out, First Flush goes live from their Facebook accounts during a performance which further helps these artists in reaching out to more people. Supporting the local music scene, First Flush has sponsored many events in the city and will continue doing so to create a more sustainable environment for independent music to thrive in.
11 Salt Lake City, BF Block
The best part about the café is its de-stressing ambience and library like appearance. From leading tabloids to bestselling books, Terminal 11 has a niche collection of literature. They also serve an enticingly delectable mix of good music, coffee and scrumptious food. On the performance side, Terminal 11 not only orchestrates live acoustic sets, but has also organised art exhibitions, book launches, and product launches as well. With just the perfect lighting, the ambience at this café is more than stimulating for conversations. The nouveau interiors and indulgent menu has also gone a long way in winning the hearts of its patrons. Started back in August 2015, Terminal 11 is a fresh and vibrant mix of enthusiasm, exuded by the contemporary performing artists and the management who have an eye for talent. Planned visits aside, cherish the serendipitous encounter if you happen to come across this café and decide to stop for a cup of coffee.
40 Shakespeare Sarani
It is always special to see brands give preference to live performances and Club Boudoir, is definitely doing their bit by organising regular events for its patrons. From bringing down some of the most sought after stand up comedians in India like Biswa Kalyan Rath, Kunal Kamra, Kenny Sebastian and Abish Mathews to giving young and talented musicians their fare share of limelight, Club Boudoir is not only promoting the performing arts scene in Kolkata, but is also providing the audience newer and richer experiences. A legendary name amongst the clubs of Dubai, Boudoir, started operations in Kolkata back in October 2016 and is gearing up with plans to constantly reinvent the club-going experience.
Here’s hoping the party never stops and talented artists of Kolkata and indeed India, continue getting the opportunities they rightfully deserve.