It’s a Saturday night at the city’s hottest hangout for the hip and happening. The usual suspects – pulsating music, long queues at the bathroom, free shots for select ladies, the works – the scene is seems quite similar in every night club! But wait a minute, once you soak in the ambience, you realise there is more than just that! You can smell the less harmful one, the weed aka marijuana, in the air. Movies, mocha, and music used to be the craze amongst youngsters, but now drugs and its wanton abuse, groping, molestation and many other unsavoury incidents have been added to the list. We’ve heard of clubs being shut down due to nefarious incidents that have taken place there, and even raids and inspections happening regularly to keep such occurrences in check. Suddenly, everything is not fun as it seems. RITZ scours South India’s major cities to comprehend what’s going on and talks to a few people about their seediest experience in a nightclub or bar.
Dailies are flooded with news of youngsters getting caught for carrying marijuana and other drugs including highly dangerous chemicals and acids. Hollywood actress and comedian Rebel Wilson fears she had her drink spiked during a night out in LA recently. The ‘Pitch Perfect’ star took to Twitter to share her nightmarish experience with fans after waking up feeling worse, despite only having one boozy beverage. “Hey guys, but especially to all the girls out there, please be super careful about what you drink when out at clubs and bars at night,” she began, “I had one drink last night at a trendy club which I believe may have been spiked with something. I felt super tired and disoriented. I got home safely but woke up this morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck.” Wilson did not share details about the club she had been partying at, but warned fans to keep an eye on their drinks at all times. “I never thought that would happen to me but if it does… please act as soon as you feel something strange and get yourself to safety,” she advised. “Lucky for me, I only drank 1/3 of the drink and realised something wasn’t quite right in time to get home before it really hit me.”
Sounds grim, huh? You bet! With rampant rave parties and private parties happening in and around major cities in India, incidents such as what happened with the actress have come out as a harsh reality check and a shock to most of us. The rapes that happen when the victim’s drink is laced with drugs are not reported, for obvious reasons. Quite disturbingly, the offenders are mostly known to the victims but there are instances of rank outsiders violating the girls’ modesty as well. However, some girls are lucky enough to wake up and flee when they see signs of warning. Twenty four-year-old Pooja Kumar recollects one such experience of a colleague with a shudder. “This incident took place in August 2015. I had gone out with two German colleagues, Marie and David and one Indian one to a pub in Chennai for ladies night. Around 9.30 pm I left with my other colleague Archana while the Germans stayed back. Soon after we left, Marie had another drink. She suspects that the drink was spiked. After that drink she felt a whole range of symptoms such as giddiness and loss of balance and soon fell unconscious. David had a sip of the same drink and felt the same way. She suspects it was drugged as she did not remember anything after the third drink on waking up in the morning. Apparently, she had collapsed when friends and other people helped her get home. She woke up with multiple bruises and found her wallet missing. The wallet and her other belongings were returned to her the next day when she went back to the pub to complain about the incident. Curiously enough, the pub claimed that they did not have any CCTV footage and refused to take ownership of the incident while flat out denying the whole thing. The issue went viral on Facebook after she posted about it on her blogs, with a lot of people warning their friends about the place and sharing the post. In spite of the brouhaha, the organisation refused to take any responsibility. Marie did not want to go to the police as she was here on a short stint on work and did not have the time to pursue the issue.” It’s quite terrifying to imagine what could have happened to her because she has zero memory of what had transpired after she sipped the drink and has no clue about the cause of the bruises!
And it’s not restricted to the fairer gender. It can happen to anybody. Hollywood actor Ben Fogle revealed he had a “full-on psychotic episode” after his pub drink was apparently spiked with LSD. The Castaway star, 39, tried to jump out of a window and had to be locked in a room by wife Marina until an ambulance arrived. The dad-of-two “flipped” after returning from drinks at a country pub while staying at a friend’s house in the West Country. Ben, who claimed he drank no more than half a bottle of wine, said: “I don’t like using the word but I was acting like a stereotypical madman. I thought I was doomed, I thought I was going to die. I was ranting, marching up and down, hitting walls and trying to jump out of windows.”
Ben, who spent 12 hours in hospital but does not know what caused the episode, is not the first celebrity to have a bad trip on acid. In a nightclub scenario, almost everybody is on a high, either in an alcoholic stupor or drug-induced. Sometimes even people who are otherwise decent, behave in an uncharacteristic way. But the worst part is, the one who is at the receiving end is the one who is left with a bad after taste.
Listen to what happened to Riya Gupta, Communications Professional from Bengaluru as she recalls an unsettling incident at a happening hotspot at the glitzy UB City where she was catching up with some friends. “This random guy walks up and says he wants a photo with our group and in the process gropes me. This was the most disgusting and sickening experience I’ve ever had in my life. I slapped him and walked out of the club in a thoroughly frustrated state. Nightclubs are great places to unwind, but we can never be sure about the kind of people who get there. Even in posh locations.”
Recalling his worst nightmare at a club, Bengaluru-based engineer Manoj Unnikrishnan says he lost his wallet containing his credit card and a wad of cash at a nightclub around the MG Road area. “I realised that my wallet was missing only when I had to pay the cabbie on my way home. I was four drinks down; the club was brimming with Saturday night partygoers and waiters walking here and there. I’m not sure who pinched it – other partygoers or the staff at the club. That’s the bane of crowded places such as nightclubs. Especially when they know you have been drinking.”
A lady doctor from Cochin feels that clubbing is particularly unsafe for women.
“I don’t think it is safe for women to party in clubs especially when alone. I remember an instance in Mangalore, when my friend was returning from a pub and an unidentified man tried to molest her while she was getting into her car. Although her friend chased the culprit, he couldn’t catch up with him. Later when they approached the police station to file a complaint, they were treated very badly and verbally abused. People watch and wait outside the clubs and yes of course, there are political outfits who claim to be doing moral policing. Safety of women is not ensured at all the pubs,” she opines. However, Thomas Babu, a Management Consultant from Bengaluru begs to differ. “I have been to pubs and I have never felt that it is unsafe for women. Bengaluru has a metropolitan crowd and I feel people are very open to the idea of women partying in pubs. I don’t think there is an issue at all,” he says.
A lady architect from Chennai has a comparison to make. “I have been to pubs in Chennai and I have not had any seedy experiences. But yes, my friends in Bengaluru have had unpleasant experiences at the pubs where they were molested or groped. I think if you are moving with a crowd of friends, it is safer. Pubs in Mumbai and Chennai seem to be safer than ones in Bengaluru,” she says.
Joel Alvares, who works as a banking analyst in Bengaluru, believes that even known people and acquaintances cannot really be trusted when in an intoxicated state. “We were a group of colleagues enjoying an evening out at a club in Indiranagar and one guy started badmouthing a few girls in our group. I intervened as his behaviour was certainly not acceptable. This man then turns towards me using expletives and throws his drink on my face. Though I took the matter up with the management and this guy was also suspended, till date I cannot believe that he was a colleague. My take is that whether you are in a large group or in a pair, hanging out with people you know or don’t know, clubs can sometimes leave you with a bitter aftertaste. Simply because people’s true colours get exhibited in their drunken stupor.”
Different cities may have different cultures but one thing is for sure – that girls and guys have to stay alert and not let their defences down at any point. That doesn’t in any way mean that you shouldn’t venture out. After all we can’t avoid sleeping just because we may have nightmares, right?