While former bar dancer Reshma Sayyed, 38, was happy with the decision of the Supreme Court on Tuesday to once again allow dance bars to function in the state, but she isn't sure whether she wants to go back to the job.
“Most of us are worried that the dance bars won't function the way they used to eight years ago,” she said. “Many customers will not turn up, at least in the beginning, and they may not tip us very well. We will also constantly be worried about police raids. I am not sure if I want to go back to work at a dance bar,” said Sayyed.
Sayyed, a Christian who came to the city from Chennai, married a Muslim autorickshaw driver. She took up dancing in bars after the birth of her son in 1999.
Working as a dancer at a few bars in Malad, she would earn up to Rs. 5,000 in tips from customers ever day. “The ban affected all of us financially. We never thought we would lose our jobs so suddenly,” she said.
After the ban, Sayyed approached the Sanmitra Trust based in Malwani in 2006, which provided skill-based training to disadvantaged women.
“I started off as a social worker, and would earn Rs. 1,500 a month, which was far less than what I would make in a single day. I had to continue to keep providing service to clients in hotels to sustain myself,” she said, adding, “I had to borrow money from the trust to ensure that my son completed his schooling.”
Sayyed currently takes home an income of Rs. 7,000 a month and is leading a team of about 60 former bar girls, teaching them English and other skills.