25 April - 1 May 2014 #704

Just dance!

Kathmanduites may sneer at Bollywood but it is Sunny Leone who gets the oldies dancing at weddings

First it was salsa. Then came zumba. And now it’s a mix of hip-hop, contemporary and every other combination of PT routine and belly jiggling that can be maneuvered into popular Hindi songs. No surprise then that fitness studios around town have started offering Bollywood dance classes, and every other dance academy survives solely on revenue generated by such courses.

I always found gyms a bit limiting. My attempts at Baba Ramdev’s ‘tornado-in-your-belly’ yoga moves ended in painful cramps. One afternoon during load-shedding hours, I found myself walking towards the distant sounds of disco beats above the steady put-puts of a generator. I had to be part of the club.

The next thing I knew, I was inside a large sparkling room where maxi-clad aunties and balding middle-aged uncles were trying hard not to let their tummies bounce. Two days later I made friends with a local gangster who explained to me why the belly shake will never go out of fashion. Soon-to-be brides and grooms, who were sweating it out to look svelte on their big day, listened intently.

Most Nepalis who grew up imitating dance moves from Gairi Khetko think no one has a better sense of rhythm than themselves. My classmates and I proudly stuck to grotesque body-shaking when we knew we would look like bar-hoppers at a wedding party. Unaware of the need to stick to the basics, we had an unspoken understanding to cry out ‘Baby Doll’ every time we got tired of repeating our eight-counts.

It didn’t help that our instructor spent half the class buffering videos on YouTube. And when it was finally time to bust a move, he whipped out dance routines from the 1990s Bollywood scene. Fast forward 20 years and mindless head bobbing, pelvic thrusts and chest throbs seem too robotic for every other song. Even the great gyrator Govinda has moved beyond this ornate body shaking.

If I thought I was having problems with the aesthetics, the uncles and aunties made me feel like a moonwalking priestess of dance. Forget pops and locks from hip-hop numbers, our respected elders have trouble tapping 1-2-3-4 with their feet. When the music started, their limbs swung half a beat late and by the time they got the hang of it, time was up and off they went cursing the instructor and inventing their own moves.

After a few weeks, the novelty of jumping in front of six-foot mirrors wore off and I left my neighbourhood dance club for another institution that thankfully has caught on with the moves of our times.

Dancing Queen

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