We were with friends at a dinner and it was suddenly decided that we should all go to the local discotheque. Although we were a fairly large group, one of us was certain of an inside contact who would let us through. We reached there around 11 pm and were made to wait and wait….and wait some more. Some wordless negotiations seemed to be going on and finally I realized that one of us was in a churidar and only women with short dresses were welcome. What an ironic contrast to the rest of India where a mother in Lucknow was recently lynched by a mob for allowing her daughter out in jeans. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/Bloodshed-in-UP-over-girl-wearing-jeans-mother-dies/articleshow/20564470.cms
So anyway, our friend found it all very funny and offered to remove her churidar and go inside in the kurta, which is then a kind of a short dress. This Munnabhai- type Gandhi-giri made the bouncers go into a huddle and finally we were all allowed in. I was asked not to create a ruckus over this reverse discrimination against Indian clothes in our own country. Ugh. Of course they were playing EDM and western music till midnight and everyone was doing the obligatory hopping and fist pumping and going deaf as well as hoarse from all the shouting. But come midnight and the first notes of ‘Dekha na hai re socha na’ and the party really came to life !
Now, contrary to what we believed in the 80s in India:
1. Disco was not invented by Mithun Chakaborty
2. Nor by Amitabh Bacchhan with his fairylight suit and LED displays saying Saara Zamana, Haseenon Ka Deewan..
So, what IS the origin of Disco? If you are interested, get hold of this fascinating book “The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism” by Matt Mason. It explains that contrary to what you may believe about cool and edgy young people at the forefront, it was a nun looking after children in a shelter in 1944 who pioneered the concept !
3. Mumbai Railways does not have any ‘Disco Station’, where Reena Roy is waiting with a ‘bauna’.
4. This song was not composed by Bappida (and sung by the awesome Usha Uthup) as a national anthem in case Punjab ever became its own country: Koi yahan aha nache nache
5. You cannot resolve major life conflicts by a dance competition as in Khoon Bhari Maang
6. Not every disco song was composed by Bappi Lahiri. Only maybe 999% of them. However, practically song from the top ten disco hits of Bollywood has been composed by him! Which is probably not such a surprise given that this is how he dresses
7. The most popular disco song of the 80s was in fact not in any film and was a pop album sung by Nazia Hassan and Zoheb Hassan. Disco Deewane charted in fourteen countries worldwide and became the best-selling Asian Pop record to-date.
8. Aap Jaisa Koi is not what inspired AAP to form a political party J. It is an un-missable song from Qurbani which had inexplicable ‘black’ people, women playing the guitar wearing swimsuits and also Amjad Khan playing the drums while playing an undercover cop. They don’t make songs like this anymore…..
9. This set was not borrowed from a 007 film and Parveen Babi may have never been a Bond girl, but who cares when she gets to dance like this ?
Jawani Jaaneman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w8Z_uqWNw4
10. Dancing CAN kill you
Dancing mania (also known as dancing plague, choreomania, St John’s Dance and, historically, St. Vitus’Dance) was believed to be a social phenomenon that occurred primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. It involved groups of people dancing erratically, sometimes thousands at a time. The mania affected men, women, and children, who danced until they collapsed from exhaustion. One of the first major outbreaks was in the Roman Empire in 1374, and it quickly spread throughout Europe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_mania.
The outbreak in 1518 began when a woman, Mrs. Troffea, began to dance fervently in a street in Strasbourg. This lasted somewhere between four and six days. Within a week, 34 others had joined, and within a month, there were around 400 dancers.
Affecting thousands of people across several centuries, dancing mania was not an isolated event, and was well documented in contemporary reports. Amazingly enough, the city councils encouraged musicians to accompany the dancers, to help ward off the mania, but this tactic sometimes backfired by encouraging more to join in.
Eerily, an outbreak in 1237 involved a large group of children travelling in Germany, jumping and dancing all the way, in marked similarity to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pied_Piper_of_Hamelin.
It has been suggested that the outbreaks may have been due to cultural contagion, triggered, in times of particular hardship, by deeply rooted beliefs such as angry spirits and a ‘dancing curse” to punish their victims. Modern theories of course have boring ideas such as food-poisoning caused by ergot fungi, structurally related to LSD, rather than Satan’s blood and manic possession.
Tarantism was another phenomenon where the only antidote to the bite of a tarantula was to dance to particular music to separate the venom from the blood. Reminds me of the scene from Do Aur Do Paanch, where the schoolkids have been poisoned and Amitabh Bacchan and Shashi Kapoor wear masks to frighten the kids in to running non- stop in the garden to prevent the poison form taking action !
Now at the age of 40 plus, my idea of a party still includes a great dance session with a sensible DJ who goes straight from ‘Dekha na hai re ‘ to ‘1 2 3 4 get on the dance floor’, ‘Toone mari entry yaar dil mein baji ghanti’ and ‘Chikni chameli’ and more for a good few hours but the best parties are looking more like this now: