DANCE (is not only for pros)!

Written by on in Dance (Film) Music

Namasté, Dear Music Lover,

Dance is among the most ancient modes of human expression. Virtually every global region, country or locale has some form of traditional-cultural dance… in general we call many such dance forms folkloric or folk dances. Hindu classical dance is nice, too.

India’s dance traditions are about as ancient as any others on Earth. Some are well-known like southern-India Carnatic dance. In northwestern India, we have Punjabi dance.

Punjabi dance team

Virtually every state and most any larger city that is widely known has at least one type of dance that people associate with the place. Certainly, West Bengal (whence I hail) has many unique traditional dance forms.

Gaudiẏā nr̥tya (গৌদিয়া নৃত্য)
Bengali Dance

I get a charge from hanging with friends and doing our own impromptu choreography. It doesn’t have to be full-on Farah Khan feature film dance numbers. We’ve enjoyed just interpreting a song or two that we like.

My point in this post is that dance can be done (and enjoyed) by non-professionals! While my friends and I may not be showcasing our dance moves in the next Bollywood blockbuster, we don’t dance for the money, lol. We do it for fun. Popularity trends for social dancing have ebbed and flowed—especially in the 1950s (the postwar Mambo/Cuban, Swing and Rock ‘n’ roll dance crazes of the 1940s and ‘50s in the U.S., both of which repeatedly resurged there—and later, in some Indian cities).

The dances currently popular in Mumbai dance clubs run the gamut of old and new—and the youngish patrons of such establishments (ourselves occasionally among them) dress in whatever is cool, often with a nod to Bollywood—but not always. We have so many competing styles and traditions. There is no solid #1 top dance, nor has only one been the pre-eminent style for quite some time.

Isn’t it: variety is the spice of life? In Mumbai, we have no shortage of variety! Dance can be found in temples, at private events like weddings and beach or other parties, even in some schools to promote the cricketers or footballers, or as noted in dance clubs around town.

There are so many places featuring DJs and dancers (of both the guest and inhouse pro types) that I cannot begin to name them all. Nor have I elected a favorite just yet; I like to say that I welcome all good dance music and dancing. I don’t have to be a serious dancer—but I do like to be inspired and if invited, I generally don’t “hoof it” with people I haven’t met before.

(Partying with strangers is not my usual mode of enjoying a night out. Sorry if this makes me seem aloof; it’s not that—I simply dance when inspired to do so; when uninspired, I rarely dance. I hope that guys who’ve asked me to dance—and don’t happen to have SRKs dimples, lol—aren’t offended if I sometimes decline to join in.)

Awkward much?

Dance in public (especially when impromptu or unrehearsed) can exhibit spontaneous joy, or at times social awkwardness. But life has many ups and downs so dance can depict in great detail the full range of human emotions. When I become absorbed in some dance that captures my imagination I feel like I’m almost out-of-body for a brief time!

We in India have parallel traditions of some very controlled formal dance (and music) traditions that go from totally improvised to highly choreographed and rehearsed.

I feel like some (not many) nights I could dance until dawn. After wrapping a long recording or looping studio session, however, I may or may not be up for pursuing much more social activity (before daybreak). As my servant insists: I MUST get my rest. It’s not as if I’ve ever felt graduated past the club scene. I never really pursued that sort of hard-partying lifestyle. I actually prefer slightly more dignified, slower dances. Maybe it’s my classical music background; I can’t say for certain why my tastes are as they are—though I do enjoy a rousing folk number now and then, too. Ah, the bright colors of Holi! But then, who doesn’t?

Namasté, AM

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