Dancing is cool. Dragging an unwilling person to the dance floor? Not really.
This world has three kinds of people. Those who like to dance. Those who don't like to dance. And those who like to force the ones who don't like to dance, to dance.
This week's column is a tribute to the undying spirit of the third category of people. Shaadi season is upon us, yet again. And soon you'll see, from the window of your car caught in traffic jam, baraat processions with well-decked people of all ages, shapes and sizes, moving their limbs uncontrollably to the beats of the dhol being played, right next to the right leg of the ghodi, or the female horse, on which a poor fellow in a hurry is sitting. When the baraat eventually reaches its destination three hours later than the time mentioned on the wedding invite, the DJ in the pandal is yawning away, looking wistfully at the empty dance floor with red, blue and green disco lights, waiting for it to be invaded by the balle balle maniacs who'll wreck havoc for the next couple of hours. And then the terrorist in them will wake up. They'll suddenly swoosh down the dance floor, look around for victims a la rishtedaars and friends, and will start dragging them to the floor. 'Aap dance kyun nahi kar rahe?', they'll ask, with such heart meltingly genuine concern that the victim will be guilt trapped, in addition to being terrorised.
At this point, I have to make a confession. I am one of these maniacs. Considering that it provides me my once-in-a-year opportunity to burn some calories, apart from branding me as a good-natured, social being, I love dancing at weddings. Not any wedding, lest you think of it as a side profession. Idiot. And when in 'high spirits', both out of revelry and...umm... literally, I love dragging friends and relatives on to the dance floor.
Once I dragged a heavily built woman, saying, 'chachiji chalo chalo, it's your song,' and realised she was not my chachi only after she had gyrated twice to Sheela ki Jawaani. The sporting spirit of Indians, I tell you. Anyway, coming back to the point, yes, I am a come-to-the-dance-floor enthusiast, but the thing that differentiates me from the balle balle maniacs is that I do not force someone to dance if they say 'no' once. And this is the point I'm trying to make today.
At any party where people dance, there are some whose blood pressure rises at the very thought of being forced to join in. Their stress shows on their faces. They don't want to be seen as being unsporting, still they can't bring themselves to shed inhibitions and groove in front of strangers. And I see it as a problem when some drunk idiot makes it his or her duty to bring them out of this introverted shell, without respecting their wish, and right, to stay in it. If, after reading this, you realise you've been a dance floor terrorist in denial, here's what I have to say to you -Enjoyment can't ever be forced. And if you happen to be a dance floor victim, perpetually scared of being asked to dance at parties, here are some practical tips to get out of the situation.
1. Get up instantly: The best way to save yourself from the vicious attack of a dance floor terrorist is to get up at the first instance when asked. The more you'll argue, the more determined he or she becomes to win the challenge of dragging you. Get up instantly, throw your arms in the air in a very 'yayy, let's burn the dance floor' way, and start moving towards the DJ. You'll soon see that satisfied after the first conquest, the perpetrator has swiftly moved to the next victim, and you are on your own. Sneak away.
2. Clap dance: Most of the non dancers resort to this, and it works. You are dragged on to the floor, you can't dance to save your life, so you start to clap wildly. It's a bit silly, but no one notices, as long as you are moving with the music. And not as if the ones who are dancing are direct Prabhu Deva descendants. They are mostly Dharmendra's. Everyone's busy doing their own thing. And remember, unlike what you think, no one's judging your moves because they are too busy wondering if their own moves are being judged. Clap a bit, and quietly get away. If by some stroke of ill luck, the attention of the terrorist is focussed on you, apply the emergency trick of suddenly hugging him. Like you are giving him a trophy for being so happy and extrovert. If it gets worse, start hugging everyone on the floor. People will be scared. Very scared. It usually stumps them. And by the time they overcome the emotions at being publicly awarded, get away.
3. Fake an illness: Many non dancers take the easy route of parking themselves at the drinks counter the moment a party begins. Each time a terrorist approaches, they raise the glass and say, 'Lemme join you after I finish this drink'. That drink, my dear friends, never finishes. But in case this route is not available to you, try faking a health problem. The moment you are forced, place a hand on your stomach, make the most serious face, and in a very, very mysterious way, say 'I can't'. Warning: This trick should not be used by women who can be misconstrued to be pregnant. Young girls, however, can happily use it. Don't you remember your school days when girls could get away with not having to do PT exercises because they faked having periods, sometimes four times a month. Men have no weapon to fight this one. They have to retreat. And if you are a guy, place the hand on the lower back in pain, as if the disc will go slipping away on the floor if you were forced. No one will.
4. Don't overreact: Jokes apart, do realise that parties are happy occasions. And dancing is a very natural expression of happiness. If someone is trying to get you to dance, their only motive is to see you enjoying. They mean no harm, so join in for a while if you can. Remember that nothing gives more happiness to the poor fellow sitting on that ghodi, than to see his friends and family express that they share his joy. Even if it means having to bear a few awkward moments, gift that happiness to the hosts of the party. No matter how busy they may seem, they notice. And would love you for it.
Sonal Kalra has discovered that 30 minutes of freestyle dancing at a party burns 150 calories. It's another thing that the alcohol needed to shed inhibitions adds twice as many. Sigh. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalra13.
Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra.