Sari, sari nights
The Issue: Dancing saris, crouching club rules
The Soundtrack: Rock the Casbah
There’s something funny about women in saris dancing in nightclubs – or as news reports this week put it quaintly, in discos. By funny, of course, I mean interesting. As a colleague who’s never worn a sari in his life pointed out, sari-clad ladies were the rage (and much more) in Mumbai’s dance bars before they were forced to take up needlework. So, I guess, the fact of the matter is that I find nightclubs with people jiggling about funny. Funny as in ‘Good god! ‘What the parakeet is that?’ funny.
But when I heard that Colonel DK Dass and his wife Mrs Colonel DK Dass were stopped at the door of Black, a ‘discotheque’ in a mall in Ghaziabad, I was appalled. They have a club aka disco in Ghaziabad? Who, in their rightful mind, would want to jiggle their flub in a dark hall in a place once called Gajeeudin Nagar where the notice outside, ‘Firearms, Dogs and Babalog not allowed’, provides much mirth to the regular clientele.
But no. I was told that I should have been appalled by something else: that Mrs Colonel DK Dass was not allowed into Black as she was wearing a sari. I’m still counting. No sign of any pink sari campaign from any consortium of club-going, tight and jitterbugging women yet.
For someone who entered a nightclub much after reaching puberty and just before hitting mid-life crisis, the dark erogenous zones with their barf-friendly, gold-chain-on-hairy-chest-dangling corners are not something even out of a cheesy Saturday Night Fever-meets-Disco Diwane routine. That people come here to have a good time is great. What I don’t get is how such a good time can be had on the dodgy territory of a dance floor. If it’s at Ghaziabad, I doubt we’ll get much eye candy either. But hey, I might be totally wrong.
So coming back to the utter injustice of not allowing saris in a club, the heinous act of the bouncer at Black could trigger a revolution with Mr and Mrs Colonel DK Dass as its double-spearhead. (Suddenly, the vision of Bindu is conjured up in my head.) After all, it wasn’t too far from Ghaziabad where things got outa control when the news of cartridges being greased by beef and pork fat was doing the rounds some 150 years ago.
Think about it. I’ve been turned away from clubs – where I have ventured out to drink and feel the electricity of a well-heeled mob – for wearing open-toed sandals. I’ve been turned away from New Year’s Eve bashes for (hear this!) not wearing a tie. But it takes Mrs Colonel DK Dass in her perfectly swish-friendly sari to get the world to sit up and notice about nightclubs aka discos and their silly rules. Along with her hubby, she might just be the anti-establishment blast that I sense each time I listen loudly to that bomping, pogo-friendly anthem by the Clash, Rock the Casbah.
As far as punk rock goes, this song gets me closest to actually dance – by which I mean jump up and down and once in a while slam my body at the nearest body, stepping on as many toes as I can. As far as the 1982 song goes, it was supposed inspired by the ban on rock music in Iran According to the ditty, the rock-friendly Iranians go on to rock the casbah (a casbah being a Middle East version of a Ghaziabad ‘disco’, I guess). The king orders the bombing of people who are violating the ban. The bomb-carrying pilots ignore the order and play rock music in their planes instead.
(For those fuming at the non-entry of sari-clad women in some ‘discos’, please don’t get perturbed to see an Arab Sheikh swigging from a champagne bottle in the delightful video featuring the band, the aforementioned Sheikh, a Hassidic Jew and an armadillo.
Will Colonel DK Dass and his wife Mrs Colonel DK Dass trigger a nation-wide protest against women in saris being made unwelcome in funny places? Will the couple, and millions of other couples, at least one half of which will be wearing a sari — show the finger at the Establishment, that in this particular case happens to be pseudo-posh, crypto-disco joints?
Move over old anti-establishment techniques like punk, grunge, goth and rightwing rock. The new credo is dancing in a sari at a ‘disco’ like an Usha Uthup on Prozac. As the Clash’s Joe Strummer puts it, “The shareef don’t like it, Rockin the casbah, Rockin the casbah.”