Archive for the ‘Bhangra’ Category

Bhangra music. Aka Punjabi music. When it blasts through the speakers at Indian wedding receptions, the dancers rush to the dance floor because for them, it’s music for the soul. The non-dancers, however, run and hide because for them, it’s just too daunting. It’s not that they don’t enjoy the music, it’s that dancing to it is difficult. The moves are complicated, require a lot of co-ordination and no one wants to embarrass themselves. For the non-dancers, Indian or not, you’re in luck today. I’ve compiled a list of moves to help you fake it:

Knee Bend/Hand Clap – first find the beat. It’s the best way to keep the rhythm. The beat generally is whenever you instinctively feel like bobbing your head, tapping your foot or clapping your hands. If you don’t naturally have those instincts, then it’s whenever you hear the loudest drum/dhol sound. When you find it, do a slight knee bend every time you hear it. When you get the hang of it, add a hand clap. That way, it seems like you’re feeling the music.

Game of Opposites – possibly the easiest dance move to pull off because it’s not actually a move. All you do is seek someone out, watch what they’re doing , go towards them and just do the opposite. If their hands go up, your hands go down. If they move to the left, you move to the right. It creates the illusion that you’re in sync on a whim and therefore able to improvise – sign of a true dancer.

Systematic Squatting – this is a solid move. When you’re lacking inspiration, regardless of the track, just start lowering your body into a squatting position. Someone else will always inevitably catch you doing that out of the corner of their eye, and automatically take it as a challenge. Their competitive edge will take over and they will come over and try and squat lower than you. It becomes a measure of willpower and strength, and once someone’s knees fail, you both stand up and hug it out.

Props are Key – use what you have. Ladies, use your chunnies (scarves), the length of your lengha/sari/dress; move them side to side, spin in a circle and let the accessories do all the work. Gents, use your ties: put them around your head, use them comically to catch a girl’s attention. Doing something silly with a prop on the dance floor is often confused with a legitimate dance move. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing.

Ring of Fire – probably the least favourite place of a non-dancer. Basically it entails everyone in a circle watching two or more people engage in a dance-off. When their turn is over, others jump in. To avoid being thrown in the centre under the heated spotlight, stand back and do the knee bend/hand clap. If that’s not possible and you find yourself around the perimeter, motion like you’re going to go in, but instead find a dancer standing nearby and aggressively push them in the middle. They won’t mind, and you’ll be off the hook.

Random Yelling – you don’t have to understand Punjabi to know what bhangra songs are about. It’s always girls, drinking (like hip-hop/rap music) and every once in a while they’ll throw out something that sounds like “Brap!” or “Chak De!” Don’t freak out. They don’t mean anything. It just gives everyone license to scream and shout, and take a mini break before they let loose again. Feel free to participate.

Don’t Be a Cliché – specifically, don’t do the whole “screw the light bulb”/”pet the dog” routine. It’s like a cry for help; like you’re announcing you have no idea what you’re doing. Dancers respond to this by making you their pet project for the night, trying to teach you moves they think are simple. They will keep you company on the dance floor only out of pity and will tire of you quickly. But not before saying something both condescending and encouraging, like “Maybe with a bit more practice you’ll nail it!”

Be Corny – one thing about dancing to bhangra music is anything goes. The running man, moonwalk, chicken dance, anything. It all works, it’s all passable. As long as it’s gimmicky. Two perfectly straight guys grinding up on each other is completely acceptable and appropriate within the confines of the dance floor. Shoulder shrugging is always allowed and can be a move on its own, or combined with any of the other ones mentioned.

Enhancers – when all else fails, alcohol can solve most problems. On one hand, it can vastly improve your skills, because all inhibitions are lost and you don’t think about it so much, but move naturally instead. On the other hand, with these same lost inhibitions, your innately lackluster skills may come through, but you’ll be too unaware to care. Note: do not overuse enhancers, no one respects a sloppy dancer.

It would be wonderful if we could all “dance like no one’s watching.” The problem is, unless you’re in the privacy of your own home, there’s always someone watching. I get the idea is you shouldn’t care, but that’s easier to say if you know what you’re doing. Hopefully these tips will help a few people out and make the dance floor at wedding receptions a little less intimidating. Remember though, the most important part is to enjoy yourself. Have fun. Brap, brap!

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