A Passage to India
In whichtravels from London to Rajasthan – with a virtual trip between Moscow and Beijing thrown in – to doctor the revels at one of the most stunning resorts in the world
HAVING ALREADY GIGGED at The Arts Club and Boujis – as reported in last month’s Prestige Hong Kong – my last few days in London were no less action-packed as I geared up for exclusive nightclub Annabel’s pre-St Valentine’s Day slumber party. On entering the club I was taken aback to see the traditional decor of Annabel’s transformed into a cheeky playpen with a pillow-fighting ring and kissing booth.
Even more surprising was the sight of both staff and patrons observing the dress code for the night: pyjamas, dressing gowns and negligees. Fortunately, it seemed that this singularly unique exception to the usually stringent dress code provided guests with the ideal excuse to let their hair down and go crazy on the dance floor, which they did with the greatest of gusto and occasional runs to the pillow-fighting ring for a quick contest. And there I was, foolishly believing I’d seen it all.
My gig completed, I had just one task left while in London, which was to create the music for the highly anticipated Issa show at London Fashion Week. I’d met with Daniella Issa Helayel the week before to discuss the theme of the show. The Brazilian designer had a very specific vision, having drawn her inspiration from Russian and Chinese silks. My brief was simple and straightforward: to evoke the mood of James Bond on board the Trans-Siberian express from Moscow to Beijing. And since the brand designs solely for women, naturally the music would have to embrace a strong feminine flavour.
With these guidelines in mind, I trotted off to my musical laboratory to see what I could come up with. Forty-eight hours later, I returned with a 14-minute mix that I hoped encapsulated all the required elements. I’m happy to report that the mix was extremely well received and after only a few minor tweaks to match the timing of the various looks in the show it was ready to go.
I didn’t make it to the presentation as a previous engagement meant that I had to leave for India the day before. So with my London labours complete I packed my bags and headed to New Delhi.
The event was the 40th birthday celebration for my good friend Gaurav Burman, with two nights in New Delhi followed by two nights in Rajasthan. More than 50 local and overseas guests had been invited to join the host for what promised to be an unforgettable experience.
I arrived in New Delhi and was taken to the exquisitely elegant Aman New Delhi, where I was staying. Having arrived the night before the festivities were due to begin, I had enough time to unwind before the first event, a welcome buffet that took place at the Nicaraguan Embassy.
The party was held in the gardens, which had been beautifully dressed with long fabric drapes around the walls. As the guests arrived I made sure to keep the music gentle, giving them plenty of time to catch up and mingle. Due to flight delays, many of the guests arrived late, so it was already close to midnight by the time I started to crank up the volume and get everyone moving. It took little time to coax the guests to the dance floor, but once they got there, almost on cue, we were visited by the local constabulary, who promptly demanded that we cut the sound. Much to the guests’ disappointment, and despite endless pleas for mercy, we were forced to turn the music down to barely audible levels for the rest of the evening.
The following night involved a casual dinner before we all boarded the coach for our next destination, Amanbagh, in the heart of Rajasthan. We arrived after a long but picturesque journey over roads and trails to find a breathtakingly beautiful resort located in magnificent surroundings, a Mogul-influenced oasis of domed cupolas and courtyards nestled between craggy hills. Having gone to our rooms to freshen up, we all gathered for a buffet dinner held in the courtyard, where a local bazaar-style market had been organised, complete with fortunetellers and dancers.
As the meal drew to a close, I jumped up into the DJ booth and launched into my set. Having been prematurely closed down two nights before, I was determined to take advantage of the fact that we were in the middle of the desert, with no neighbours to disturb or police to intervene, to unleash a barrage of dancefloor dynamite onto the willing revellers. Whatever the guests had missed at the previous party, they more than compensated for as they grooved the night away.
The final evening was a more formal affair in the hotel atrium with a sit-down dinner and a magical performance from a local Sufi singer and his troupe. The birthday cake was brought out and, once the candles were blown, it was time for the next danceathon. Whereas my playlist the night before had offered a clubby ambience with a selection of summer club anthems from past and present, the following night I went for more of a party vibe, mixing disco, rock, pop, hip hop, ’80s, Indian, Arabic and Latin sounds to reflect the various nationalities present.
I’d imagined that since the crowd had kept going till the wee hours the night before, this night would be an early one. However it seemed the guests had plenty in reserve, and I finally wound up just as the sun began to creep over the mountains at 7am.A new dawn. A new day. A new adventure!