Our dancing lesson with Delhi Dance Academy

Sebastien Chaneac

Delhi was our first stop in India, where we met up with our friend Andrew, visiting us from London and we just HAD to check out a Bollywood class as part of our trip here.

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Bollywood is part of the large Indian film industry – a mix of Mumbai's former name of Bombay, and Hollywood.  The industry dates back to 1913 when the first silent Bollywood film (Raja Harishchandra) was released.

Bollywood films are great fun.  They are extremely camp and melodramatic with a simple storyline to appeal to all.  They also involve a lot of singing and dancing so that you really don't need to understand Hindi to appreciate what's going on.

We watched the latest hit, “Bang Bang”, which inspired us to take this a step further…

Posing with the poster for Bang Bang
Posing with the poster for the latest Bollywood hit, “Bang Bang”

Dancing in Delhi

We took a dance class with the brilliant Delhi Dance Academy, set up by handsome brothers, Arjun and Anant Sandhu:

Owners of the Delhi Dance Academy
Owners of the Delhi Dance Academy, Arjun and Anant Sandhu
Delhi Dance Academy
Delhi Dance Academy

We were welcomed with a marigold flower necklace (“mala”), a red dot tikka painted on our foreheads and given snacks for the day.

Our class involved learning four different Indian dance routines:

1. Bollywood

First up was Bollywood, the one we were looking forward to the most.  Traditionally dancing in Bollywood films started with the introduction of sound to the cinema and was mainly classical Indian dance styles.  But over the years, the influence from MTV and Hollywood creeped in.

Now it's all about cheesy dance routines with lots of attitude, hips gyrating and posh spice style pointing:

Bollywood dance class at the Delhi Dance Academy
Posing with our Bollywood dance teacher, Manish.

2. Dandiya

Dandiya is a more traditional dance from the Gujurat region of India and popular in Western India.

It involves dancing in a circle with each person holding a stick (the ‘dandiyas') in each hand.

Dandiya dance class
Dandiya dance class with our teacher, Naina

Dandiya is usually popular during the Indian 9 day festival called Navratri.  Navratri is a Hindu 9 day long affair in late September/early October celebrating Goddess Durga and the victory of good over evil.

The Dandiya dance is the staging of the victory of Goddess Durga over the buffalo headed evil demon-king, Mahishasura.  It's nicknamed ‘The Sword Dance' because the dandiya sticks represent the swords of Durga.

Goddess Durga defeating the evil demon king Mahishasura
The Dandiya dance is the staging of the victory of Goddess Durga over the buffalo headed evil demon-king, Mahishasura.

3. Bhangra

Bhangra is a high energy Punjabi (an area of North India) dance, traditionally used to celebrate ‘Vaisakhi' (Sikh festival celebrating a good harvest season).

Bhangra is popular at Sikh weddings, parties, family celebrations and of course in Bollywood films.

It's often danced in circles, uses a lot of arm and shoulder movement, and of course, lots of attitude:

Bhangra dance class
Bhangra dance class with Anish

4. Belly dancing

Belly dancing is an Arabic dance not as popular in India because it is considered too risqué for such a conservative country.

Its actual origins are varied.  Some claim it's originally a religious ancient Greek dance during fertility to help prepare girls for labour and was part of the delivery ritual. Others trace it further back to a form of Egyptian social dance, which spread throughout the Middle East with the migration of the gypsies. The gypsies eventually reached Europe and Flamenco developed.

Belly dancing lesson
Belly dancing lesson with Indu

For more tips check out some of the best hotels in Delhi and watch our video mashup of our 4 Bollywood classes at the Delhi Dance Academy:




Sebastien Chaneac

Sebastien is the co-founder, editor and author of nomadicboys.com. He is a tech geek, a total travel nerd and a food enthusiast. He spends the majority of his time planning Nomadic Boys' travels meticulously right down to the minute details. Sebastien has travelled to over 80 countries with his partner in crime and the love of his life, Stefan. He regularly shares his expertise of what it’s like travelling as a gay couple both on Nomadic Boys and on prominent publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Originally from France, Sebastien moved to London in the early 2000s where he pursued a career as a computer programmer for Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg. He subsequently left it all to explore his passion for travelling around the world with Stefan to hand, and thus Nomadic Boys was born. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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