Bhangra Badass… Or Just Plain Bad?
Check this column out in the new issue of Divanee magazine
Balle Balle on a Thursday Thursday
I admit it: Back in college, I was a dancing queen — desi style, that is. I choreographed the all-girls dance three years in a row, performed a mean “Bole Churiya,” and twirled my way through an entire dizzying garba. So armed with a resume of bona fide Bollywood-bootyshaking credentials, I decided to give the ammi of all desi dance forms a try—which is why I’m here today, standing in front of the New York Sports Club on 40th Street, heading into a bhangra workout class.
Everywhere you look, India is in vogue, and judging by the scores of non-desis lining up for Bollywood films, chicken tikka masala, and eyebrow threading, Sarina Jain knew what she was doing when she fused one of America’s biggest obsessions (fitness) with one of India’s (bhangra, oy hoy!) to start the Masala Bhangra phenomenon nearly a decade ago. Since then, thousands of uncoordinated white folks have bought her hugely successful workout videos and gone on to “screw lightbulbs,” “raise the roof,” and “scatter seeds” in their own clumsy interpretations of Punjab’s harvest dance. If they can do it, so can I!, I decided eagerly, and now I’m about to take a crack at a dance created by a race characterized by the robust masculinity of its people… even the women. Who cares if I’m petite and fragile and no more virile than Elton John? Bhangra doesn’t stand a chance against these hips. Brruah it on!
“I’m Gonna Tell You a Big Bad Story, Baby…”
Armed with a healthy measure of Beantown-inspired nostalgia, my remote, and clearly, some good fortune, I surfed my way onto HBO just as Fever Pitch was starting.
The opening bars of “Dirty Water” accessorized the shots of Copley Square, the Charles River, the Citgo sign, and – of course – Fenway Park that flickered across the screen, and my homesick heart was content at last. “Well I love that dirty water… Boston you’re my home!”
For the most part, I’m not too concerned with athletics. Athletes, sure. Athletics themselves, not so much. I follow BC basketball and football, and I like March Madness and the Super Bowl just like anyone else (that might have more to do with the pools and the parties, but that’s neither here nor there). But baseball never fails to amaze me with its singular faculty for putting innocent victims (er, fans) to sleep with monotonous displays of athletic lethargy.
Maybe I can hold my gender accountable for my apathy. Dave Barry – who you may be familiar with as my hero – said it best: “If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there is a man on base.” I am perhaps just that callous a woman.