The government of Maharashtra has banned dance bars all over the state, including those in Mumbai. Furthermore it will not even allow the erstwhile dancers to work as waitresses in these bars. For those who are wondering what might these dance bars be, are they some kind of coked up version of Twinkies? Well, these are seedy little pubs sorta places, where men come to have a drink and to ogle at young girls dressed in shimmery lehanga-cholis (full ankle length and small blousons) and saris and garish make-up. These lolitas in ghoulish makeup dance to the latest bollywood numbers in a fashion that seems to me a cross between the bollywood dance style, the head-banging seen at darghas and the kind of neither-here-nor-there style of dancing at weddings. These places are not very expensive compared to the more high-end pubs, discos and lounges and their patrons tip the dancers.The dance bars were initially banned in Mumbai as the government felt it was downgrading the moral fiber of its citizenry.
Post August 15 the ban was extended to cover the entire state. The men who visit there seem to be all adults. If the government claims that it has done so because the dancing is only a cover for prostitution then also it doesn’t make sense. There are plenty of prostitutes working otherwise and maybe they could have tightened the laws and made it incumbent upon the owners to guarantee that no prostitution or solicitation was undertaken by its employees.I am even told that most of these dance bars were run with the blessings of the local policemen and politicos. The union of dance bars has decided to move court and fight the ban order. I hope they win. This hypocrisy on part of our government is sickening to me.
I might add here that these women are more modestly dressed than the ‘item-girls’ when they do their ‘item’ dance numbers, the recent trend in Indian movies. These actress-dancers are later invited to perform at various events and functions attended by politicians as chief guests. Its not much different from ‘nautanki’ though much more tastefully done and with higher production values. How can they then have the cheek to shut the dance bars, the trickle-down versions?
Although I may not agree with the taste and preference of the people who enjoy these performances, I fully support their right to their kind of entertainment. I am not claiming that these women get a good deal in such places, most probably they get a very raw deal and do it only because of lack of other viable options but how are we making it better for them by taking away their livelihood, by making them desperate?