Going out on a week night in Colombo is a pretty rare event. Most things close at 6 p.m. and with the crazy traffic it takes a good 45 minutes to get anywhere in the city. Often your best bet is to cut your losses and enjoy a gin and a good sweat at home.
But when we saw the posters for the Battle of the Bands at the new ‘His Excellency, President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Theatre” (everything in Sri Lanka now bears Sir Mahinda’s name), we knew we couldn’t miss the Tuesday night show. Not only were we guaranteed to be entertained, we’d also finally be allowed into the new lotus flower-shaped structure that was recently built with money from Sri Lanka’s new BFF China. For months the beautiful building has sat empty with no one allowed inside, and now just recently, shows have slowly started to be offered.
Heading to the event with our visiting volunteer friend Wendy, we weren’t sure what to expect, especially since we didn’t have tickets. We assumed we could get tickets at the door, but we’ve been living here long enough to never assume anything. And once again we were right in our cynicism – but in a good way.
Upon arrival we walked right into the theatre, not a ticket booth or taker in sight. Next thing you know we were sitting down in air-conditioned comfort enjoying young Sri Lankans singing and dancing to all sorts of Top 40 hits. You don’t need to buy tickets in this place. You just need long pants and white eyebrows and the world is yours.
The night got even better at intermission when we were treated to a free buffet of snacks and slush drinks. Still not a dime spent.
Unfortunately, the night came to an abrupt end when were arrested for trespassing (just kidding!). It actually ended right after the free lunch was done and we found out there were still 17 more bands to go and it was already 10:30.
A quick huddle by the group decided that we had got our money’s worth and a good night’s sleep was more important than finding out what group moved onto the next stage of the competition in Dubai (great prize!).
All in all it was another fun night out in the City That’s Never Awake.