Sri Lanka's post-attacks nightlife loses fizz - GulfToday

Sri Lanka's post-attacks nightlife loses fizz

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The Park Street Mews area, full of restaurants, is seen empty in downtown Colombo. Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

Before bombers targeted Sri Lanka in deadly Easter attacks, Rangana Wijesuriya used to party until the small hours in the pulsating restaurants and clubs of downtown Colombo.

Now, after the April 21 attacks that killed 257 people, the buzz is gone. The DJs are performing to empty dance floors and the bar staff are bored.

"It is usually really crowded and really noisy here. We were shocked to see that it is really empty," Wijesuriya, 26, told on a recent Friday night.

"Usually when we come we stay until morning," she said, the international auditing firm employee and her friend the only diners at a restaurant.

"Colombo's nightlife, for the last couple of years, has been picking up because the tourists arrivals are getting bigger and bigger,

Sri Lanka remains on high alert after bombers targeted three hotels and churches in attacks.

In fact, even though it's only just gone 8:00 pm, the street is such a shadow of its former self that Wijesuriya was thinking of calling it a night. 

While before partygoers would have to elbow through 700 or 800 people on a Friday night, now there are barely 20 people on the street. The tapas bar hasn't bothered hiring the usual band.

Hopeful Harpo

Every Friday and Saturday night Harpo Gooneratne, a larger-than-life restaurant owner, does the rounds of the places he runs in his chauffeur-driven car.

Sri-Lanka-3The pedestrianised Park Street Mews is seen empty Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP

"Colombo's nightlife, for the last couple of years, has been picking up because the tourists arrivals are getting bigger and bigger," Gooneratne told AFP.

And he's hopeful that things will bounce back.

"It has taken a dip but we are positive that it is going to kick back and it is going to happen. The locals are going to be coming out as soon as possible," he predicted.

At the entrance to Park Street Mews, security guards check visitors' bags for explosives, and concrete blocks have been installed to prevent any attacks with vehicles. 

Now sales are down by half and its manager Jean-Charles Toussaint, originally from the southern French city of Montpellier, expects things to remain dire for a while.

"The situation isn't great. But it's understandable, less than two weeks since the attacks. Things will have to get going again slowly," Toussaint said.

Natalie Jayasuria, owner of the Flamingo House building, agrees.

"Sri Lanka is a resilient nation. We fought 30 years of war, we survived that. I believe we can survive anything," she said.

Agence France-Presse