Herald: The elephant in Goa’s nightlife space: Code of conduct

The elephant in Goa’s nightlife space: Code of conduct

29 Mar 2019 05:24am IST
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29 Mar 2019 05:24am IST
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Even Cinderella had a deadline of midnight. But when it comes to elections in India, a night out is a night “out” at 10.30. It’s kaput, close, shut, bandh, finish. In short party over. For Goa’s struggling party capital Goa, the ‘Code of conduct’, means no music after 10 and no alcohol after 10.30. While there is reason enough for this ‘conduct” to ensure a free and fair elections, this certainly does not allow for a smooth conduct of Goa’s nightlife



For international travellers who are in Goa, there’s an

elephant in their holiday space they don’t quite understand. It’s called ‘Code of conduct’. Looking quizzically at the bartender David Froth from the UK asked why did the music stop at a very popular nightclub in the North coastal belt. The bartender quipped ‘By the time I answer your question, time will be up for your last drink. So do you want your answer first or your drink?”

The bartender wasn’t quite joking. The ‘code of conduct” is in reality a chastity belt for party goers in Goa as well as nightlife stakeholders- clubs, restaurant owners leading up to the general elections

International travellers come to Goa from countries as diverse as Russia, Germany, the UK and a smattering of visitors from East European and the odd Scandinavian country.

Nicole and her husband who are holidaying in Goa from the UK did not understand the restrictions the code of conduct had placed on the nightlife, More specifically on the consumption of alcohol and the restrictions on timings of restaurants operations. Nicole said “It’s a sad thing to do this to a place which is known for its nightlife. Why would we want to come here again if we can’t party, also not just for us but for the entire restaurant industry’s business gets affected and it’s not the right thing to do.”

They understood the importance elections but were unable to understand the ban on the consumption of alcohol beyond 10.30. Restaurants have to shut operations by 11 o clock. Restauranteurs, this journalist spoke to said it was not unusual for police vehicles to patrol intensely in the area and for police personnel to walk in and check if alcohol was being served after 10.30. There was no possibility of a negotiation with regards to extending the 11 o’clock deadline because all these strictures came down from the centre.

Sabrine of Black Sheep Bistro said they were waiting for the circular which was expected to come today. Since they did not play live music they did not have problems on that score. They were shutting down at 11 o clock and with regards to the business, she did say there was a hit but couldn’t quite quantify it.

Ritesh Marande, the Assistant Manager of Copper Leaf said the election season was always tough on a state like Goa which depended on tourism. The outlet had stopped serving alcohol after 10.30 and this had meant that numbers had been affected. When asked how much business had been affected by, he said “By around 30 %, that has been the hit we have taken”.

The fact the elections are being held at a time when the peak season for the international tourist has ended may be a source of some solace for the hospitality industry. Avinash the Manager at Tuscany Gardens, Candolim, said he had a tough time dealing with foreigners who were here on a holiday and wanted to have a relaxing time eating food and consuming large quantities of alcohol. He said “Their argument is that they are foreigners and they have nothing to do with the election process, neither are they voting in it and so why are they being punished for it.” He however added that since the peak season was past and the numbers had dropped dramatically in the last twenty days. He said the experience during the assembly elections which were held in January was terrible because it was smack in the middle of the tourist season and there was a ban on the sale of alcohol.

Another night spot which usually becomes very popular after 11 o clock, Cohiba is shutting operations every day at 11o clock. Sebastian the Manager of the outlet said “People now come at 10 clock, our last drink is either 10.30 or 10.45 and by 11 o clock we are closed. We follow the rules to a T”. Kapil Vohra of Picadally smiled when asked how he was affected. He said “Tourism is down anyway and everyone has left. The local Goan has gone off on a holiday and so no one is really coming to the outlet. Lent is also on. Our last drink order is at 10 o clock and were shut shop on time. Our food business is fine but the sale of alcohol has been hit dramatically”.

Rumana of Thaal said it was not unusual for the police to come in and check the outlet. Earlier the outlet would shut by 12 o clock but now it would all fall silent by 10.30. Business had certainly been hit but as she put it , nothing can be done about it.

Perhaps the final word should go to Gideon D’Costa, operations manager of De Candolim Deck who said “It’s not just us who is suffering but even the customers are not liking it. Forget live music, one can’t play ambiance music after 10, people end up overhearing each other’s conversations and this is not what they come for. So many charters have been cancelled and this is affecting the tourism for the state badly. People who have made these policies haven’t thought about the aftermath of it and it’s really a sad state of affairs.”

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