I was recently at MICA and of the many things that became memorable of that evening, one was the dance party. Now I’m not commenting on the quality of music or crowd present there – simply because, perhaps either it was one of those bad days when the DJ sucked, the crowd was in an especially academics-discussing mood, my friend (also the chap who invited me to visit) was especially busy organising (read binging on) booze, and I had been delegated to people who were not really in the mood to entertain, or I have just been to too many grown up parties to enjoy the college campus imperfections anymore.
But you know how dance parties go… and unless it’s especially un-relatable music, it’s all familiar noise to which you can move and goof about. Kush ended up being my partner for the evening (very graciously and without qualms) and even accompanied me on my breaks. Of course the friend who had invited me found me every now and then on the dance floor to shake a leg and make his general lack of presence even more prominent.
It has often struck me as odd in recent times when I’ve been told I dance decently. Not because I don’t think I dance well or whatever, but my general awareness of my own body is pretty low. Grace and the completeness of a move... The technicalities, in short. I mean, I know I would fade into the background in presence of elegant Twara who has over a decade’s training in Bharatnatyam and some more in Kathak on, say, a Garba ground; or even Apeksha with her sleek salsa and jazz twirls during the most insignificant jam sessions at MA. The latter had rhythm ingrained in her DNA! Whether it was the corridors of the ladies’ hostel or the streets of the university campus, Apeksha could do her little jig just about anywhere with her iPod plugged in.
I wouldn’t dare. It is not my place. It is not my comfort.
What’s different, you ask. It’s all public. In fact, it’s a lot of crowd in some milieus. It is India. And it’s us women.
I first danced on a floor at the little concluding put-together at LACs when I was in the Third Year of my BA. Most people were strangers and Haem was the first to teach me a couple of the basics. But it was not to be the start of a new interest or way of recreation for me just then.
The first week into MA and the seniors announced a jam session for us newbies. Yes it was fun, the music ranged everything from the latest in hip-hop and house to Bolly and even Tollywood. But I guess I was still rather in my own shell.
So what has changed and what remains as was?
I have got to give it to Arunav for taking away the inhibitions that every non-dancer would first experience on the dance floor. The not-knowing what to do or where to go when being jostled in a constricted space at the safe-bet retro-and-bhangra-playing Hawaiian Shack can be a unnerving when you’ve never done it before. Everyone around seems so with it and adept – lip syncing whatever songs around (and believe me I’m pretty much a gowti dehaat when it comes to club music). But one realises very soon, that it’s not about making appearances. Those who sweat the most, move closest to the rhythms, smile the most and have a wild glint in their eyes are the ones who are said to be having the best time! You don’t have to be Shakira (cuz believe me, no one except your partner is really watching), and so long as you’re not injuring people with your hands or heels, nobody cares.
And so I still thought that was the first and last time. It made me no authority to judge what a good party was or wasn’t. But when you go to another venue with the same company, and you begin to yawn mid song 3 (and by then you’ve figured pretty much the whole playlist – Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson and Elton John for example), you know for a fact that just strolling down Colaba Causeway would be more fun.
My most memorable dance do by far though, is still the Times party in Hyderabad. Not for the music or ‘crowd’ per se, but definitely the company and again, a great dance partner. Needless to add, the time of year made it even more fun. I had read somewhere a couple of years ago in a celeb interview that this chap wouldn't sleep the 24 hours of his birthday. And I thought, what could be more precious than just doing nothing on your birthday. But my 26th was to be a novel experience. 300 people at a 5 star hotel banquet, free booze and food and the girl’s birthday was announced by none other than her mad cracker friend-chauffer-neighbour-colleague-and what not. I also discovered that one can have the most unlikely colleagues around. So Santosh, who happened to be one of the few people who joined the same or next day that I joined, and the only chap from sales who I was friends with back then, turned out to be a great dancer. Again, someone who had trained.
When I left Hyderabad for Bombay, I thought this is it: the end of all the frolic and fun of dancing. But Harshil and gang positively kidnapped me to Sutra for a night out. Not only did I discover potential for fun, but also met a girl I now call friend. That night wasn’t just about dancing because I needed music, but also about unwinding. I realised yet again, that dancing isn’t about tiring oneself out, but regaining some of that lost life. What still remains a cherished dance is the one with Abhishek at Salt n Pepper (I think) afterhours. The resto owner was nice enough to put a great song and allow us our little quirk. Despite the limited space and for them to almost shut for the night, we were given the time and leisure of moving to a tune, smiling, forgetting, remembering.
So you see, it is just too predictable that Navratri comes each year at this pre-designated time and lasts a certain set of days and dictates that you wear only a certain kind’a clothes and make up and jewellery. There is none of that last minute dilly-dallying of red dress or black, or gold danglers or matching stones, or stilettoes or wedges. Because really, the joy of dancing came from looking forward to an opportunity that presented itself at the most unlikely times!