Wednesday, November 22, 2006

'Dance Bars' Dubai

There is a certain special friend of mine S who, for the last year or so has been bitten hard by the Bollywood bug. On any night out, as long as he gets his chicken tandoori and gets to listen to some bollywood hits where he can imagine himself doing some Sharukh Khan moves - he is rocking. And for some reason, I always seem to forget about this before we decide to go out - [perhaps I'm hoping the bug has worn out] leaving me inappropriately dressed for the night to come.

Anyway. I go pick him up from the Fairmont Hotel - home to some of the best bars in Dubai. 'Come to the Cigar Bar,' he says. YAAAAYYY - 'We are chilling here tonight!', I think.

Yeah right, the next thing I know we are heading out in hunt for some Bollywood hotspots. A few phone calls to those on the underground Bollywood scene and we have 3 places to visit.

Place number 1 - Mehfil: Located in a 2-star hotel in a dodgy area over the bridge, we enter this nightclub/bar which is almost pitch dark, the only lights being dark red ones. Once our eyes got accustomed to the darkness, we notice there was nobody in the bar - however all the tables were reserved. Indian temple music - bhajans - were playing in the background and a group of young Indian girls, dressed in everything from an Indian sari to a short skirt with heavy make-up, were sitting on the stage in the club. 'What's happening here tonight?' we ask. 'Madam one show - vill estart now only in fiwe minats', says the dude with a full-on Indian accent.

Show? Girls? Temple Music? we decided to stay. Happens that the girls - known as dance girls of dance bars in India - were praying and asking for God's blessings before they begin strutting their stuff.

About 10 minutes later, the ritualistic music changed to a 'boom boom boom boom' bollywood song and one by one, the girls began coming to the front and doing what I would call some mixed form of bollywood movie dancing and pole dancing.

It wasn't sexy. It wasn't professional. The girls were not pretty. But the men - who started flowing in within half-an-hour were loving it. I felt quite sorry for the girls.

I was the only non-dancer girl in the whole club. Perhaps that's why the girls kept looking and and flashing wide smiles at me. Surely those were meant for the men, what were they thinking I would do? were they trying to lure me in? were they trying to tell me 'look what fun we are having here while you are sitting there'! or just happy to see a girl in the audience for a change - I really don't know.

What was more interesting to see was the sort of people that visit these bars. Mostly Indian, one Arab in his kandoora with his three sidekicks. All men. Age-group 25-60. Seemingly lower-middle class, probably sadly employed in some depressing job in Dubai, probably all living in Karama [a relatively cheaper, mini-India area in Dubai] Definitly all married. Definitly all sexually frustrated. Definitly all regulars.

We ordered food, had a few beers, the girls weren't very pleasant to watch, we left.

We ruled out spending more time in such bars. Landed up in my Columbian salsa hole. What a relief.

These are the sort of clubs in Dubai you will never hear about outside the city. As much as it was an experience of a kind, I would never go there on my own and was most comfortable only because I was with friends. I would never go there again.
Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening? Locations of visitors to this page