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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 19:14 GMT 20:14 UK
'First India condom disco' opens
By Asit Jolly
BBC News, Chandigarh

Free condoms in the 'Condom Bar'
The bar is aimed at attracting the young
A nightclub in India which says that it is the first to offer condoms as its unique theme has opened in the northern city of Chandigarh.

The "condom disco" is certain to raise eyebrows among more orthodox residents.

Backers say there is a serious purpose behind the disco as the aim is to promote HIV and Aids awareness among young sexually active people.

The new bar was, appropriately, inaugurated by the president of a counselling group for Aids sufferers.

Condom logo

Located inside Chandigarh's Kalagram or arts village complex, this unique club announces itself simply in brass lettering that says: "Condom Bar".

Unsure what to expect, patrons step into a large, mirrored interior colourfully festooned with condoms.

Citco Managing Director Jasbir Singh Bir
Condoms must be seen as friends, not some embarrassing necessity that no-one wants to talk about
Citco Managing Director Jasbir Singh Bir

All drinks are served in tumblers with a specially designed condom logo that also finds a place on almost everything else, including the waiters' uniforms.

Circular placemats on the bar tables have useful advice for the young revellers expected to frequent the place.

"Enjoy safely," says one, while another suggests: "Don't just get on. Get it on! Protect yourself, protect others".

Instead of small change while paying their bills, customers are offered packs of condoms or a choice of other souvenirs like mugs, t-shirts or caps - all bearing the by now familiar condom logo.

Platters conveniently positioned around the room have what the bar staff promise will be an unending supply of free prophylactics, including the new female condoms.

The scheme is the latest venture of the government-owned Chandigarh Industrial & Tourism Corporation (Citco).

Enthusiastic Citco officials worked hard to meet Wednesday morning's opening deadline.

Staff at the 'Condom Bar'
Staff are available to guide revellers to free condoms

They said that they were proud to be associated with a venture that will help control HIV and Aids in India.

"Condoms must be seen as friends, not some embarrassing necessity that no-one wants to talk about," said Jasbir Singh Bir, who heads the corporation.

He and his colleagues have planned a flurry of activities to attract youngsters to their new bar.

Among the initiatives are regular pageants open only to women and men living with HIV or Aids.

Aids conversations

"This is both to spread awareness and to get people talking about what could fast become the country's biggest problem," Mr Bir said.

To keep the nightclub affordable to the less wealthy, Citco says it will run the condom bar as a non-profit operation with low-priced drinks and wholesome vegetarian food at cost prices.

"Our earnings will be the awareness and the message we will help spread," said Mr Bir.

The new bar was inaugurated by Pooja Thakur, a young mother and president of a voluntary counselling group for people living with HIV and Aids.

"I am thrilled that government bodies like Citco are now daring to venture beyond their stated purpose to provoke people into talking about Aids," she said.

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