Archive for the ‘Bollywood’ 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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Bollywood: a movie industry that produces a seemingly endless stream of Indian movies year after year. Every fan knows that one of the most important elements in a Bollywood movie is the music; so much so that a good soundtrack alone can sell a movie. And there is no bigger Bollywood fan out there than my brother. It’s his hobby, his passion and in light of his 30th birthday I feel compelled to write about it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 My earliest memories of Bollywood music stem from my childhood, when thanks to my Dad, I would be woken up on a Saturday morning by music from 70s/80s Amitabh Bhachchan movies blaring from our home stereo. My bedroom was (in)conveniently located right above the speakers so it would always hit me first. The tunes would continue during breakfast and serve as background noise when both my brothers and I would slowly wake up to our nutritious breakfast of tea and cookies. It’s no secret that my dad is a Bollywood buff: he has proudly admitted to cutting class several times during his college days to watch movies on the big screen, namely the classic Sholay. That’s probably where my brother gets it from. The more movies we watched, the more music we listened to over and over and over, whether in the tape deck or on TV. Bollywood music became the beloved new family member: it came along on every and all road trips; it was a constant topic of conversation when guests were over; it was always around during family gatherings such that when any song was heard, an intense competition ensued of who could name the movie it originated from – needless to say, my brother won every time.

My understanding of Hindi is minimal, so I usually have to guess what the songs are about (though it’s not hard to figure out when you see a boy and a girl frolicking through open fields, hiding behind trees gazing into each others’ eyes). When I am drawn to a song from a Bollywood movie, it’s based on what it sounds like. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the songs from back in the day (circa late 80s-mid 90s) – they had an oldness to them, they felt classic. My liking for Bollywood music and movies started to fade in the late 90s and now I only listen to songs my brother posts on my Facebook wall; because his interest, on the other hand, increases exponentially every year. He is always up-to-date on the latest music/movies/scandals and even sends out e-mail updates (which some people beg to receive) just to keep the rest of us in the loop. Every time he comes home for a visit, his routine consists of sitting on the most sought after couch, watching B4U (a TV channel which plays only Bollywood music). This immediately draws my parents into the room because they too can’t get enough of the music. And it’s as though that beloved family member I often forget about, returns. Somehow I also get sucked in (as does my other brother on occasion) because it’s one of those things, all these years later, that still brings our family together. I know, pretty cheesy, right?

There are 5 people in my family, and we are rarely ever all together in the same place at the same time. But one thing you can bet on is that when this does occur, Bollywood music will always be there because otherwise it just wouldn’t be the same. I have always said that my brother and I are polar opposites in every way imaginable. But I don’t think that’s entirely true anymore: we both have a healthy obsession with music; just not the same music.