How this LGBTQ+ nightclub in India became a movement
WHAT WOULD YOU GET if you threw class, fashion, music, champagne, and a rainbow in a large room and mixed it all up?
Founded by Indian hotelier and avid traveler Keshav Suri and his partner Cyril, a Frenchman who “loved to explore new worlds,” Kitty Su at The Lalit New Delhi was influenced by the LGBTQ+ scenes that they had seen everywhere from Argentina to New York to Shanghai.
Rooted in happy pride, Kitty Su is India’s most inclusive nightclub, often packed to the brim with likeminded LGBTQ+ revelers with not a moment of no love-for-all vibe in the air.
“The sophisticated elegance of Kitty Su became a beacon to which all kinds of people – drag queens hailing from Ambala or Chandigarh, transgender personalities and differently abled musicians and artists – could flock, secure in the knowledge that they were in a safe space, at last,” Suri shared with Conde Nast Traveller.
“In the last three years, Kitty Su has grown beyond being just a haven for the LGBTQ community.”
But it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies for Suri.
Post-traversing through Milan, Rome, Florence, Venice, New York, and China and soaking up the sensation of pure love and acceptance, then going home to India was “sometimes frustrating.”
All that euphoria and empowerment dissipates in a blink of an eye as the reality hits them.
Same-sex relationships, marriages, and sexual activities are illegal in India, and its people aren’t tolerant of LGBTQ people.
Homosexuality is seen as “shameful,” and those who are would usually face discrimination from families and friends.
India criminalized homosexuality until 2009 when the High Court of Delhi declared section 377 of the Indian Penal Code invalid. In 2013, India reinstated its ban on homosexuality, making it a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment up to life.
Due to the lack of understanding and prejudice against LGBTQ+ people, coupled with the spreading of misinformation, the community often falls victim to violence.
In May, a transgender woman was killed and three others seriously injured when they were attacked by a mob of angry locals acting on rumors that the women were child traffickers in the Indian city of Hyderabad.
The women were begging in the southern suburb of Chandrayanagutta when they were set upon.
“They were begging for money from some shopkeepers in Chandrayanagutta at 11pm when some unruly youths started saying they had come to kidnap children,” Hyderabad (South Zone) deputy commissioner of police V.Satyanarayana told CNN.
Up to 20 people took part in the attack, while a crowd of up to 200 people stood by egging them on.
“Homophobia is a global phenomenon, but in India, the fear of arrest for a same-sex inter-racial couple like us is very real. Wherever we go, this fear accompanies us, a paranoia that can feel like a noose is always hovering,” Suri wrote.
One fateful night, however, mid-conversation with Cyril, Suri was empowered to break free from the noose and change things up.
“Over the years, all our travels had demonstrated to us that members of the LGBTQ community had to come out and show their strength and demands to pave the way for mainstream acceptance. Despite the pervasive homophobia in China, for instance, there was a vibrant, high-end LGBTQ nightlife scene in Shanghai, where people could act freely and enjoy themselves with like-minded and open people,” Suri explained.
“It irked me, and I immediately thought, “If China can, why can’t we?”
And that was how Kitty Su, a product of love, labor, a pinch of paranoia, and more importantly, a whole lot of pride came to be.
Here are seven things you need to know about the nightclub-turned-movement:
- It offers the finest high-octane beats ranging from techno to commercial, and house to dubstep.
- It’s the only nightclub from India to feature in DJ Mag’s Top 100 Clubs poll for three consecutive years.
- For two years in a row, Kitty Su was awarded the Best Night Club in the Capital.
- World’s Best Bars called Kitty Su “an absolute ground-breaker on the New Delhi nightlife scene,” being the first to introduce a VIP area.
- The club is also home to a trendy tattoo parlor and boutique.
- Kitty Su often promotes and champions its motto, #PureLove, across its social media platforms.
- It’s open three days a week including Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Kitty Su is located at Basement, The Lalit New Delhi, Barakhamba Avenue, New Delhi, India.
Aside from Kitty Su, Suri also manages Lalit Group of Hotels’ properties as the company’s executive director. He has since made the properties more inclusive and hopes that in time he will be able to help the community that he’s a part of, the much needed basic human rights that they deserve.
In April, Suri led a petition with the Supreme Court, challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes a consensual relationship between adults of the same sex.
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Source: Travels travelwireasia.com