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Dare to dance

And you thought that swinging to salsa was sensuous? Or that the jive made you look hot on the dance floor? Now high on women’s weekend leisure charts are dances that are not just making them feel good — but look great as well. So women are curling themselves around poles in the perfect moves of the pole dance, they are lap dancing around chairs (with or without the men seated in them) and even shedding extra layers of garments in an imitation of the sexy striptease.

Moving with abandon to different tunes and newer dance forms is the step forward in boogie town. From the ultra-romantic Latin street dances to the sensual belly dancing moves, exotic rhythms are in, in, in.

Most of them tread a dangerously thin line between the sensual and erotic. Dancer Shilpa Rane says: “Any dance form can be made to look sensual, erotic or dirty. From my research on dancers and showgirls in Vegas bars I know that even nudity can be aesthetic.” The 35-year-old dancer teaches pole dancing, lap dancing and striptease at the Dare & Bare classes in Gold’s Gym on Nepean Sea Road in Mumbai.

There are ample takers as well for the passionate Argentine Tango and the romantic Bachata that are taught on Sunday afternoons at Arts in Motion (www.artsinmotiononline.com), a plush dance studio in Mumbai.

“As the dancers tango across the floor, you’re caught in an aesthetic fusing of torsos, swivelling hips and fascinating drops where the man drops the woman within inches of the floor,” grins Prerna Patel, a 25-year-old banker, who’s signed up for Tango classes with her boyfriend.

The bachata is the another dance that’s all about moving in tandem with the partner with the focus on the swaying movements of the body rather than footwork. In Delhi, you can catch up on these sizzling styles at Ballrumours Studio (www.ballrumours.com). Says Aamir Ahmed, the man behind the show: “The idea is to be sensual, not to bring the bedroom to the dance floor.”

Meanwhile Zouk, a dance from the French Caribbean, is creating waves worldwide. In India, it’s being taught by professional dancer Meher Malik (www.bellydancingindia.com) at her south Delhi studio. Expect lots of hip movements, heady swirls and head movements.

But if you want to shed your inhibitions completely, check out Rane’s striptease, pole dancing and lap dancing classes in Mumbai that are divided into six levels. But Rane is quick to emphasise the fitness aspects of these dances as well: “Squatting with verve, butt moves and hip rolls — all performed on high heels — are bound to tone the thighs. What’s more, the dances incorporate gymnastic moves like climbs, spins, and body inversions around the pole.’’

The Bachata and the Argentine Tango (below) are all about moving in tandem with the partner with the focus on swaying body movements rather than footwork; Pix by Gajanan Dudhalkar

Relax, as you don’t need to strip down to the bare necessities during a striptease lesson. “You put on some extra layers and shed them with sexy moves,” says Rane, who also shows you some burlesque/showgirl dance moves. The price: Rs 2,400 (not including taxes) for eight sessions.

At Anchal Gupta’s Arts in Motion studio, belly dancing is a hot favourite. She says once you’ve danced with a scarf/belt of jingling coins tied around the hips, you know you’ve found the way to lose all your inhibitions and revel in your femininity.

Meanwhile in Palolem in Goa, Englishwoman Katie Holland coaches enthusiasts on the Egyptian belly dance — the traditional and tougher form of the dance that is some 6,000 years old.

“I learnt it as an art form and not as an enticement. Even while you move the hips, it is in the way you emote that makes all the difference,” says Holland.

Back in Delhi, Malik spices up Egyptian belly dancing with Bollywood moves. Having spent 17 years in the Middle East, she has mastered the dance that she says was once the domain of the high priestesses of ancient Upper Egypt.

The easier gypsy belly dancing is taught (one-on-one) at Ballrumours Studio where you end up paying as much as Rs 1,500 for a class —exclusivity being the key.

Dirty dancing is catching up in Bangalore as well. From a mere three students when his dance studio kicked off last July, choreographer Lourd Vijay now takes some 84 dancers (and counting) through the routines. A three-month module with hour-long, twice-weekly classes comes for Rs 3,600, but students don’t mind.

At his studio, the dress code is body-hugging leotards and jazz trousers (they sport a flattering cut and boot legs). “I always say that it is crucial to cover everything and yet hide nothing. So hey, no loose clothes,” points out Vijay.

Most of these studios offer free practice sessions and fun nightouts. While Ahmed holds twice-a-week sessions at the chic F-bar, Malik holds Hafla Nites for belly dancing divas at clubs. And Gupta at Arts in Motion has Open House Latin Nites and Hafla Nites when you get to dress up and strut your stuff.

So put on those dancing shoes. We are taking you dancing.

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