… Phuentsholing will now have 17 karaokes and five discotheques

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Starting next month, nightlife entertainment in Phuentsholing will be different.

Phuentsholing Thromde’s Entertainment License Committee (ELC) has extended the closing time from 11pm to midnight on weekdays and to 3am during the weekends.

After Covid-19 restrictions were removed completely in April this year, Phuentsholing karaoke owners had raised the need for the time extension.

Along with the time extension, Phuentsholing Thromde has also approved licenses for more entertainment centres in the town. Currently, there are 13 karaoke bars in the town. Four more have been approved.

Phuentsholing will also have four more discotheques. There is only one at present, which is also beyond the Rinchending checkpost.

Phuentsholing thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai, who is the chairman of the ELC said there are also proposals for live music and pubs. 

“There are many building owners who want to start karaokes and clubs,” he said.

Uttar Kumar Rai also said that after the recent approval, many hotels have approached the thromde office with proposals for karaoke and discotheque.

Meanwhile, there are standard criteria that even the recently-approved entertainment centres have to pass through. These are standards set by the ELC.

“Once the sites of the centres are approved first, ELC will verify the standards,” Uttar Kumar Rai said, adding only those who fulfill the criteria will be provided license for operation by the trade office.

Due to the pandemic and prolonged lockdowns, Phuentsholing has been hit the most. After the international border gate opened on September 23, local businesses have not found success either. Thromde office said there has been pressure from the hotels and restaurants to allow them entertainment centres.

“Because the business is not doing well, ELC is compelled to approve the licenses,” Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said.

“The committee has decided to give the opportunity to all provided they fulfil the set standards,” he said.

“This will give all a level playing field. Those who can sustain will do good business for themselves.”

A hotelier, Tshering said that the approval of more nightlife entertainment centres and time extension will help many people.

“There are many women who worked in the drayangs before but lost their jobs. Most are single mothers. This will definitely help,” he said.

“It is also time for more nightlife entertainment to be given. Otherwise, it is as if we are still in the dark age.”

A private employee and resident, Yuvraj Gurung said, “The timing suggests that we are approaching more normal days like before. It makes me feel Phuentsholing can be compared to Thimphu in terms of entertainment.”

“I heard discotheques were not approved in the core town areas. Now all of a sudden, we will have four discotheques. It is like icing on the cake.”

Yuvraj Gurung said Phuentsholing Thromde is really trying to make the city lively and full of glitz and glam.

“But it equally burdens the police because more late nights mean more drinking, discord and fights. But there are always pros and cons of everything.”

Residents are upbeat that the time extension of such entertainment centres and approval of more centres will come right after the Mega Night musical show, which will start today in Phuentsholing.