London has never looked as spectacular as it did from the 52nd floor of Gong, the bar with THE view at the Shangri-La hotel at The Shard that opened in May earlier this year. Well, unless you flew over in a chopper earlier, but now all it takes is an elevator ride up to the bar and a cocktail of your choice to take in the London views, right from the St Paul’s Cathedral to the Big Ben to the London Bridge. The drinks at Gong are just as stellar as the views and the staff is very friendly and ever ready to snap your pictures for you as selfies are just tedious here as they cut out the background completely. And even if you do manage a good shot, by the time you get the light and angle right, you’d look a bit looney to the rest of the cool crew. And it might be a tad disrespectful to your waiting drink on the table too. Everyone was flying on those tangy and sour cocktails, but the question that remains unanswered though is, how high will YOU get at London’s highest bar?
The sun has just set on the island, after a theatrical flourish of colors stretching across the Maldivian skies in all imaginable shades of the big fireball. The indigo waters of the Indian Ocean are awash with a golden gleam till dusk takes over with a dazzling display of twinkling stars, dancing and sparkling around an incandescent moon above in an unorchestrated symphony of the skies. It’s the perfect evening to go out dancing, and the elegant group of people waiting for their ride at the Niyama, Maldives jetty know that. The excitement is palpable as the speedboat docks in to the jetty and everyone gingerly boards the boat, all the while maintaining the poise and glamour of seasoned fashion forwards. With all its beautiful people aboard, the boat then heads 500 metres north of the island to Niyama’s exclusive and the world’s first, one of a kind, underwater nightclub – Subsix.
As the breeze sprays you with the salty, ocean water, you cannot help but wonder if partying in a nightclub in the Maldivian archipelago is really happening, that too one that has a dress code. From flip-flops and cut-offs and sunscreen, it’s quite the departure for the party on board to evening dresses, heels and makeup! After all, the islands are best known for their pristine, sunny beaches, crystal blue waters, spectacular spas, world-class cuisine and wines, state-of-the-art water sports and incredibly stunning vistas. Of course, all these relaxing activities are limited largely to the island resort you are visiting. In other words, all the action is on the island. So, naturally, one simply cannot fathom the very idea of a nightclub in the Maldives. Sure, there’s dancing and music in beach bars, sunset view bars and even restaurants (if no one’s looking) on the island resorts, but an actual nightclub? Sounds absolutely incredulous and unbelievable! But Niyama by Per Aquum, seems to have changed the game globally, by offering the world a getaway on its vast island playground with Subsix. As the boat approaches Edge, the over water bar and restaurant, swathed in a fluorescent pink hue, near the landing jetty, everyone’s ready to get this party started!
After getting off the boat and sipping on some welcome cocktails, a wooden staircase to the left of Edge, takes you down under. A large door swings open and there it is – Subsix – the world’s first and only nightclub underwater! Nothing you have ever imagined can compare to what hits you when you are inside it, aside from gasps of sheer wonder and amazement. ‘You are in a nightclub underwater’ is a sentence that keeps whirling around in your head as you take in the interiors of the club. The club is built six feet under the surface of the Indian Ocean and spins the term ‘partying’ on its head, giving a whole new meaning to shaking things up under water. Floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides of the structure allow unparalleled views of the marine life that swim by from the inner depths of the blue – Manta Rays, Parrotfish, Turtles, Clown Fish and many more exotic underwater inhabitants. A myriad shades of blue bounce off the ocean, straight into the club, and seem to change colour by the minute, set off by the glimmering lights inside. Fishes and sea creatures swim up to the windows and it all seems like a very ethereal dream!
The design and décor of the club and the bar is on trend and no different from any hip nightclub anywhere in the world, except the fact that Subsix is underwater. The structure was built entirely on land, before being sunk into place, making sure no corals on the house reef were damaged. Niyama encourages people to adopt corals to protect and enrich the environment and since they started their Coral Regeneration Program in 2007, 3000 corals have been added to the house reef. Everyone soon turns into paparazzi mode, taking pictures of the fishes that even hold a pose sometimes! Imagine the delight of one guest who managed to score picture of a fish French-kissing her through the glass! Needless to add, that’s her Facebook profile picture for at least a week, if not more! Just sitting by one of the windows enjoying a signature cocktail, watching the fishes come up to the glass and blow kisses at you, is a sublime experience. It is almost as if you are one with the ocean and its colourful inhabitants. Dancing to the resident DJ’s tunes and burning up a dance floor six feet under water hits you harder than any cocktail made in any bar in the world! International rap star Tinie Tempah, was the first to perform at Subsix when it opened in the last quarter of 2012, followed by DJ Poet who is the official DJ of the band, Black Eyed Peas. Night divers and snorkellers, are often surprised when they see the glittering lights of Subsix on their explorations and feel the pulsating rhythms of the music, but the ocean life seems unperturbed by the humans dancing and swaying to the music. The underwater nightclub experience is definitely the reason Niyama’s residents swing by for a good time, but it is Subsix’s extraordinary view that is far more heady than any of the exotic cocktails on the expansive menu.
Such is the popularity of Subsix’s spectacular ocean life views, that Niyama has started a Prix Fixe lunch menu on Wednesdays and Saturdays to accommodate their guests’ requests. It is an exceptionally well-crafted menu that caters to a global palette, paired with some of the best wines from around the world. From the best grass-fed beef to the best seafood the ocean has to offer, the Subsix menu is created to entice the most discerning patron. The food is prepared by the chefs at the Edge kitchen above and brought down to the diners by the very congenial and charming staff on the days that Subsix hosts lunches.
Partying underwater has so far been the realm of avid scuba divers who love the depths of the ocean and its fascinating inhabitants and each dive feels like an underwater party to them. But when there’s a man-made wonder like Subsix, you don’t need to be a swimmer or a scuba diver to enjoy the marvels of the ocean. In fact, you can drink to that!