Men in Saris: Mumbai's new lavani dancers
March 10, 2013 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Men in Saris: Mumbai's new lavani dancers Lavani is a folk dance, traditionally performed by women for men. The popularity of Bin Baykancha Tamasha (or Performance Without Women) and other female-impersonation groups in Mumbai suggests that the city may slowly be getting comfortable with flamboyant expressions of male sexuality.
posted by infini (8 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
yes! dancing boys
posted by halekon at 7:07 AM on March 10, 2013

That would be fantastic. It seems that things are getting interesting in India when it comes to gender rights. Check Thr Atlantic's In Focus for some great photos of International Women's Day too.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:08 AM on March 10, 2013

posted by schwa at 7:29 AM on March 10, 2013

We're Indian. My cousin used to dress up like a girl when he was a teenager to entertain us.

We didn't have cable.
posted by discopolo at 8:06 AM on March 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

You can see these performances throughout Rajasthan as well, despite Mumbai being one of the most progressive parts of the country.
posted by aletheia at 8:15 AM on March 10, 2013

My cousin used to dress up like a girl when he was a teenager to entertain us.

Prettiest Bollywood Actors in Drag
posted by infini at 8:40 AM on March 10, 2013

This isn't really a new thing in Mumbai - they've had transsexual men called "hijra" for centuries. They're sort of like the "katoey" in Thailand, looked at as a "third sex" and usually are sex workers.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:03 PM on March 10, 2013

So men dressing in drag to dance is old as time; you've had classical theater such as Kuchipudi and Kathakali being male-only like Shakespearan theater or Japanese Kabuki. Should stress here that this Lavani-by-men group is ten-years-old, as the piece mentions; it's the cultural/ commercial solidification of the scene that is the real news here.

The lower middle-classes' apparently obsessive sub-cultural following by through mobiles, the overly suggestive-but-with-female following bit, frenzy after a performance, even crossdressing to an extent, and such has such a strong resonance here in Singapore as well; that's *exactly* how getai operates here during the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Finally, it's ironic isn't it, that in Bollywood's and Indian cricket's hometown, the lower middle classes seem to be surfing a resurgence in street theater. There's an unstated class thing there that makes you think.
posted by the cydonian at 11:55 PM on March 10, 2013

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