After Mumbai's ban on the bar dancers, the capital city of Nepal has become South Asia's new entertainment hub of scantily clad dancing beauties. The past year has seen nearly 2000 dance bars mushrooming in Kathmandu.
And taking advantage of Nepal's political instability, a set of new-generation entrepreneurs has boldly added sleaze to the shows. The dancers have gone far beyond the point Mumbai's dancers of yore ever dared to cross.
“Everyday, new dance bars are opening in Kathmandu, attracting more and more tourists," Ranjan Sharma, owner of a downtown dance-bar told Hindustan Times
Sharma said aggressive competition had led more and more bar owners to add sleaze to what was initially mere copying of popular dance numbers from Bollywood hits. "The dances are basically nude shows now," he admitted.
Some of the dancers are the same ones who used to perform in Mumbai, and investments from Mumbaikars involved in the dance bar business in that city, has followed them. However, most of the Indian investors in the dance-bar business have Nepali partners.
The dance bars openly advertise---"pole dancing", "show girls", "go-go shows", and "nude shower dances". The police have so far turned a blind eye. Usually, the bars remain open from 6 pm to 3 am.
Employment conditions vary. Salaries range from NRs (Nepali Rupees) 2,000 to 6,000 per month, but the girls' real income is of course the tips they get. The dancers move from table to table, teasing and amusing clients, seeking tips during the show. There are no weekly offs or annual leave for them.
More than 75 per cent of the women working in dance bars are between 18 to 25 years old, semi literate, with no other skills beyond the ability to dance. "As Nepalis are natural dancers, most of the girls find the bars the right place to find employment," Rupa Acharya, a member of a Kathmandu-based NGO, said.
She added that in most cases the girls were also required to entertain select clients after the show. "Apart from degrading these girls, such shows are a threat to public health," said Acharya. She demanded that the government immediately formulate some legislation to rein in the sleazy bar-owners.