A typical night out in Chennai usually consists of the family unit going out to catch a movie and eating dinner in a restaurant. There is no drinking in the traditional family as it is frowned upon. While the youngsters today are changing, the city still has a long way to go before its nightlife can be favourably compared with Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore.
Chennai as a city does not have much of a nightlife to offer. Most locals would rather have dinner and a movie than go to a pub or a disco. The local Tamil-language cinema is quite popular but it might not be the experience that you are looking for.
There are a couple of movie halls that do screen English blockbusters; Sathyam Cinema on Thiruvika road is one just place. Otherwise you can end up in any of the 100 plus cinemas that dot the city landscape and watch a Tamil film. Do not get worried at the noise that bursts forth at each action or romantic sequence. Whistles and cat calls are expected if the movie is to be shown full appreciation by locals.
The Music Academy is a place where you can absorb the local classical culture. There are regular Carnatic Classical Music concerts and Bharat Natyam Dance performances are held here. You should check with the newspapers for exact dates and timings of performances during your visit.
While some performances are performed free, some professional performance troupes might charge. Even then prices would not be beyond five to 10 dollars a show. It is well worth getting an insight into typical south Indian classical music and dance traditions.
- Location: On the corner of Dr Radha Krishnan Sallai and TTK road. About 15 minutes drive from central Chennai.
Chennai Nightlife Venues
Bike & Barrel
The focal point of your attention when you walk in this establishment is likely to be the bike dangling from the ceiling. Don’t worry it won’t fall. The tables in the pub have been replaced by barrels and hence the name. There are all kinds of memorabilia decorating the walls should you care to go and take a good look around. The food is not all that special but the place is livelier than most other similar clubs in the city, which given Chennai’s dispassion for nightlife is not saying too much. Still if you want to enjoy an evening of drink and dinner it’s a nice place to go to.
- Location: In Residency Towers Hotel on Sir Theagaraya road, close to Pondy Bazaar in T Nagar. About 20 minutes away from central Chennai.
As the name suggests, this is an Irish-inspired Pub. The club has three levels of dancing and you can keep moving from one level to the next all evening. If you enter after 22:00 there'll be a cover charge. Reasonably active till about midnight, more so on weekends. Closed on Tuesdays.
- Location: Situated in the Hotel ITC Park Sheraton, on 132 TTK Road, about 15 minutes drive from central Chennaii.
The dress code here prohibits shorts and sandals, so make sure you are dressed well. The ambience is beautifully Spanish and you can try out many inventive cocktails. The seafood is particularly good. On weekends it gets really busy so it would make sense to make advanced bookings.
- Location: 74 Cathedral road, just off Anna Salai Road, about ten minutes drive from central Chennai.