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The ladies’ special

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india Updated: Oct 18, 2013 17:31 IST
Serena Menon

It’s tough to put a finger on when exactly ladies’ nights originated. But a 2011 piece by Richard T Ford, an expert in anti-discrimination law, gives a rough idea of when they started. Tracking ‘how the civil rights movement led to a ban on ladies’ nights’ — something most would never imagine would happen in the USA — he reveals how back in 1979, a male student sued a club owner after he agreed to let only his female friend in. In 1985, the California Supreme Court 'held that ‘Ladies’ Nights’ violated the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act'.

Who knew then that a concept this innocent would be deemed 'an illegal form of gender discrimination in California (and in Wisconsin and Maryland)'? First World issues, one reckons. But then, for different reasons altogether, back in India, in May, the excise department prohibited pubs in Hyderabad from hosting ladies’ nights-type evenings to 'control the free flow of liquor'. Third World issues, one reckons.

Nonetheless, bans oft drive thought to the origin of these concepts. What were they initially and what have they become for them to get banned? Most such contemporary rituals have amusing back stories. Take the cheering ritual of clinking glasses, for instance.

As per an urban legend, glasses were clinked with the intention to have some alcohol spill over from both the glasses into both the cheering vessels. Poisoning drinks was apparently in fashion back then.

Keeping eye contact while sipping your drink after making a toast is another such ritual. In ancient Scandinavia, Vikings did this to make sure the next person doesn’t spring a surprise attack on them. Adding a worm to tequila to preserve it is another myth. But the truth, they say, is that the preserved carcass of the worm only symbolises the level of purity of the alcohol — some even say that this theory is only true to one brand.

Yet, all we know about ladies’ nights is that they’ve been around for over three decades. But what’s interesting is that some women back home have given it a spin-off story that might have the potential to match the Vikings’ tale, when it comes to piquing curiosity.

So apparently, the reason ladies’ nights often take place on Wednesdays is because that is the only day when a majority of the women don’t keep fasts (according to the Hindu calendar). “That’s why a lot of kitty-parties are also held on Wednesday,” a veteran said, attempting to corroborate the speculation with another observation. Well, at least this theory is better than the mid-week-slow-business-promotional-tactic rationale that most of us believe. Plus, it makes for a good urban legend.