How the party scene in Nepal has changed over the years.
Kathmandu is the party hub of Nepal, and its entertainment scene is on par with the Western world. It wasn’t so a decade ago. Then, even Thamel, the tourist center, usually closed up a few hours after darkness had fallen, and all that remained open were two or three bars thumping out ’80s rock music that struggled to be heard over the sound of sputtering generators. A routine thing, due to heavy power cuts. Few roamed the streets past 11:00 p.m., aside from the odd street thug and barking street dogs.
There has been quite a change over the past few years. People have started frequenting new places, and it is not only restricted to Thamel. “There has been a sudden influx of clubs and hip lounges in various locations like Lazimpat, Naxal, Tangal, and Patan,” Karma Gurung, owner of Karma, one of the most popular lounges, in Kathmandu shares.
When it comes to veterans, Jazz Upstairs is no stranger to these changes. Its owner, Chhedup Bonzan, says, “We have been here for more than two decades, and we have seen the way things have changed. We have always had limited space, and could accommodate at the most forty guests at a time. But, after the road expansion and reconstruction, we have expanded and seen an influx of people.” He adds, “Over the past four-five years, there has been a change in the way people approach music and clubbing, and while bars used to shut down at 10:00 p.m., now it’s almost all night long!” People have had a change in attitude, as well. “They have become more conscious about drinking and driving. This is a very good thing indeed!” he states.
Nepal never really had the gigging culture. Ashok Sen, owner of Purple Haze, shares, “There were one or two 'foreigners only' clubs in Thamel in the late nineties. For the locals, it was the tented concerts or 'dance parties' organized by some groups on some free available spaces or a garden restaurant that started it all. Then, it transformed into more organized clubs, discos, as we called them! The concept of going to discos in the day started as women had to get back home before sunset.” Things have definitely changed. “Going out has become pretty mainstream now, and everybody goes to party!” he affirms.
When it comes to his own place, Purple Haze, he says, “We came on the scene in 2012, when flashy hip-hop was on the rise, and real live music was pretty much in the shadows. With our concert like set-up, we brought live music and rock music back to the forefront!” He adds, “It has kind of become the mainstream thing now, with our influence, many 'rock bars' have started popping up across the nation since last year. Before us, people would have to wait months or months for a gig to happen. Every night is a huge rock party with us now!”
Today, there are many new clubs and lounges around. Mahir Malla, promoter of Tunnel Club, says, “There has been a massive change in the way Nepalis approach clubbing. The number of bar fights has reduced drastically, and people have started partying in a more responsible manner.”
Although Nepal does not feature as one of the party hotspots of the world, it has a quirky and eccentric charm that lures locals and tourists alike. With a few upscale lounges and many bars scattered over various areas, Kathmandu is slowly but steadily developing its party scene. So, grab your dancing shoes, because it’s time to party!