The Karachi nightlife has been through years of transformation. From the vibrant clubs of the 70s to the spirited food hubs and underground scene we see in 2021.
In the past, Karachi, Pakistan’s largest and most varied city, was home to a renowned nightclub scene where alcohol was readily available and jazz greats performed for enthusiastic crowds yearning for a taste of Western culture.
“We used to have a good nightlife with bands, drinks, and dancing but it’s gone,” recalls Imtiaz Moghal, the manager of the Metropole Hotel, once one of Karachi’s hottest nightspots, but which now lies semi-derelict as it awaits renovation.
The financial and transportation hub of Pakistan in the twenty-first century, Karachi was also well-known for something else in the 1970s. Pakistan is well known for its prohibition of alcohol and nightclubs. This wasn’t always the case, though. In reality, the name “City of Lights” was first applied to the city in the 1960s and 1970s because of its thriving nightlife.
Many people may be surprised by Karachi’s vibrant nightlife and ‘live and let live’ attitude.
Following attaining independence in 1947, Karachi had a reputation for having a vibrant nightlife. Leon in his article in the Aurora Magazine, brings up the connection to drinking and says: The hotels appealed to a wide range of preferences and offered fully supplied bars with local brews.
Several popular nightclubs included: The Nasreen Room at the Intercontinental Hotel, the Penthouse at the Hotel Excelsior, and the Discoteque at the Metropole Hotel At the Taj Hotel, Playboy. Different types of customers were catered for by the well-known nightclubs in hotels, according to Leon. “The crown jewels were Hotel Metropole and Palace Hotel, The Beach Luxury, and eventually the Inter-Continental. “While the hotels at the Excelsior, Imperial, Taj, and Central offered a more risqué set of entertainment.”
Leon brings up the connection to drinking and says: The hotels appealed to a wide range of preferences and offered fully supplied bars with local brews. There used to be inexpensive bars and liquor outlets strewn all around Karachi in addition to these large nightclubs.
Numerous individuals frequented Karachi’s pubs and nightclubs. They used to be popular hangouts for politicians and celebrities in particular. Leon says” Even major leaders like Mr. Bhutto and all of these other individuals used to go.
Nightclub New Year’s Eve celebrations were prevalent back then. Leon goes on to say that the atmosphere on New Year’s Eve was unique. People were at every nightclub and place on New Year’s Eve, making it impossible to find a space anywhere. Due to its immensely diverse club and partying scene, Karachi rose to prominence in South Asia.
The live music scene is what made the nightclubs so popular during this period. Although most of the music was Westernized, the unfiltered talent of these musicians elevated the art within Pakistan and made music much more accepted. Even though live music and bands were booming amongst the Karachi nightlife, there were more glamorous means of entertainment which is overlooked.
The Tribune asserts: “Night clubs with legal alcohol and professional belly dancers, elegantly swirling their bodies around, are (almost a) forgotten time in Pakistan.”
Eateries and fast-food chains have replaced the once-active nightlife of Karachi. With the occasional theatre tossed in for good measure, malls, and movie theatres now more than make up for any amusement we did have before. The era we are discussing now took place in a nation that is very, very far away.