Dance bars were the zing in Mumbai's night life

Mumbai, July 16 (IANS) The dance bars were once considered the jewel in the crown of Mumbai's non-stop night life -- until they were banned and shut down in August 2005.

Unique to the maximum city which never slept, dance bars had scores of young girls or women dancing away to blaring Bollywood numbers with colourful lights, a hazy airconditioned atmosphere reeking of the smell of cigarette smoke and liquor, plus food.

The patrons, mostly youth or wealthy businessmen, tourists both domestic and international, enjoyed an "interactive" session with the dancers by showering them with currency notes.

At times, depending on how regular the patrons were, they were even permitted to shake a leg under the strict watch of bouncers.

The culture of dance bars started modestly in Khalapur, in Raigad district, around 75 km from Mumbai, in the early 1980s.

The first such bar was 'Baywatch' which functioned quietly at night. Around 500-600 dancers and bar girls were brought from different parts of Mumbai and Thane in airconditioned buses to the venue in late afternoons.

The strategic location of Khalapur made it a favourite with the revelers, it was just off the Mumbai-Pune highway, and a vehicle disappearing into the rural darkness was hardly noticed or missed.

After earning a bundle - ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand rupees - many of the dancers would return by the same bus early morning the next day and reach home before sunrise; the 'others' who stayed back with patron-customers would make their own arrangements to go home.

The move soon picked up and spread like wildfire in Mumbai and Thane. At one point of time, there were an estimated 3,000 such night-bars employing over 75,000 dancers, but other estimates pegged the figure at around half a million.

Crores of rupees literally used to be blown up in these dance bars and there were some attractive dancers like Tarannum who was even raided by the Income Tax department.

Some of the top-end dancers used to arrive to 'work' in snazzy chauffeur-driven vehicles, with their own private armed security and an assistant to collect their earnings -- currrency notes showered on them by patrons.

But, for a majority of the other dancers, the plight was akin to what was vividly shown in the national award-winning 2001 movie "Chandni Bar".

Since the dance bars were routinely frequented even by the mafia operatives, police found them a rich source of gathering intelligence on various crimes.

The business became so lucrative that many regular family restaurants converted to dance bars to cash in on the craze - which figured prominently in the international print and electronic media.

It was in March 2005 that then Home Minister R.R. Patil hinted that the government planned to ban dance bars in view of the unsavoury activities reportedly thriving there and as these allegedly corrupted the young.

By April that year, dance bars were banned in the state except Mumbai, but following a hue and cry, even the city was brought under the ban.

In May 2005, the Maharashtra State Commission for Women frowned on dancing, but said women could work as waitresses in bars.

Later, after many hiccups, Aug 15, the state finally downed curtains on the signature night life of Mumbai.

The anti-ban lobby moved the Bombay High Court and in April 2006, the ban was lifted, but the state government was granted time to move the Supreme Court.

In May 2006, the apex court admitted the Maharashtra government's appeal against the high court decision, but continued the ban.

The Supreme Court has now finally struck down the state government's order banning the dance bars.

Several former bar dancers welcomed the apex court decision and said that, after suffering for eight years, they would now be able to dance and earn a decent living.

Latest News

  • Final curtain for 'Downton Abbey' after Season 6
    Final curtain for 'Downton Abbey' after Season 6

    By Michael Roddy LONDON (Reuters) - The hugely successful British period drama "Downton Abbey" will wind up after the sixth season, its executive producer said on Thursday, but a possible movie version cannot be ruled out. "There's so many different explanations" for the decision, Gareth Neame said in a conference call with reporters. "I think our feeling is that it's good to quit while you're ahead." Creator Julian Fellowes, the sole writer of the drama about an aristocratic British …

  • Pope Francis meets homeless on private visit to Sistine Chapel
    Pope Francis meets homeless on private visit to Sistine Chapel

    Pope Francis made a surprise personal visit to 150 homeless people on a special tour of the Sistine Chapel on Thursday, in the latest nod to his vision of creating a church for the poor. Francis greeted the visitors in the chapel where he was elected pope during a private viewing of its ceiling frescoes painted by Michelangelo more than 500 years ago. "This is everyone's house, it is your house," Francis said, according to a statement from the Vatican spokesman about the event at which no …

  • It's in the grape: NZ vintners pioneer low-alcohol techniques
    It's in the grape: NZ vintners pioneer low-alcohol techniques

    By Naomi Tajitsu WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand's cooler climate is giving its winemakers an edge as they seek to exploit growing global demand for lighter, premium wines, as rising temperatures push up the alcohol content of wines from rivals such as Australia and the United States. The 2015 vintage of the country's flagship Sauvignon Blanc will be the first produced under a government-backed initiative to research and produce wines that dispel the image of low-alcohol, low-calorie wines …

  • 'Broken Horses' game to be unveiled in Los Angeles

    Mumbai, March 26 (IANS) Indian filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra's maiden Hollywood movie "Broken Horses" will not just have a novel version, but a mobile and computer game as well. The game will be launched in Los Angeles around the film's release on April 10. The recently released trailer of "Broken Horses", launched by Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, is creating buzz globally for movie-goers. Set in the shadows of US-Mexico border gang wars, "Broken Horses" is a thriller about bonds of …

  • Sushant Singh Rajput to visit Old Delhi Railway Station

    New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) A lover of history, actor Sushant Singh Rajput will on Friday make his trip to the capital more fruitful by visiting the Old Delhi Railyway Station to promote his forthcoming movie "Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!". Sushant, who will be accompanied by the film's director Dibakar Banerjee, enjoys reading history and he likes to visit places of historical importance and other landmarks in the cities that he visits. "He is excited to visit the Old Delhi Railway Station," a …

  • 'Barkhaa': The tawaif goes to the beer bar (IANS Movie Review, Rating: ***)

    Rating: *** Pakeezah goes to the beer bar. Debutant director Shadaab Mirza weaves an emotional yarn about a girl's journey from the pristine Himachal hinterland into a beer bar run by an incredibly benign South Indian man who could be one of those caring madams in the films about fallen women set in kothas. The scenes showing the rich pampered lawyer's besotted son Jatin (Taha Shah, stiff and not just in the upper-lip) frequenting the bar to dart lovelorn looks at his object of adoration are …

  • Grandma Cissy prays for Bobbi Kristina but 'not a great deal of hope'
    Grandma Cissy prays for Bobbi Kristina but 'not a great deal of hope'

    Cissy Houston, the grandmother of Bobbi Kristina Brown, who was found unresponsive in a bathtub in January, is praying for her recovery but she admitted there was little hope. In an interview with WBLS radio in New York City, Houston, 81, said her granddaughter, the only child of the late pop star Whitney Houston and singer Bobby Brown, had been transferred to a rehabilitative center and her condition remained "the same". …

  • AIFW: Hemant-Nandita bring Gulmarg's rustic beauty on ramp

    New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) The scenic beauty of Kashmir has always been a source of inspiration for many designers but the Hemant-Nandita duo took it to a different level, showcasing the timeless allure of the state's Gulmarg resort through their range that personified undying techniques, delicate embroideries, scenic beauty and extravagant handicrafts and clothing. Titled "Boho Caravan", the designers shared the whole idea of taking inspiration from the place post their show at Amazon India …

Loading...