Dance Ka Shoe-Mantar.
In yesterday's post, I had pictures of some dance crazy Rangeela boys from the streets of Mumbai, the kind who eat, breathe and float around to the beats of music. But it's not just the kids on the street who have been mesmerised by dance, it's something that has effected people across all layers of society.
To understand the craze, I met an interesting couple who are on the upper end of the colourful dance spectrum - Vineet and Sahiba. They were able to articulate why we feel the need to dance and they showed me their shoes - the dancing shoes.
One Size Less.
One Size Less.
Vineet and Sahiba are married to dance. While it's a kind of madness, they are trying and succeeding to add a method to it. It's been a craze long enough to stop being a fad. It's time to mould artists out of the serious dancers. So they created an entity known as Dance Factory which has no relation to Ram Gopal Varma, and they also teach dance.
Now, there are enough dance enthusiasts for the Ballroom kind of dance to actually prepare the infrastructure for a full-fledged industry around it in India, a need based one.
One of the main ingredients for the whole mix are getting the right shoes.
When it comes to shoes, there are hazaar imported choices that may or may not fit the Indian feet or purse. But these guys custom-make affordable shoes that would take you higher-up, especially as you explore new levels of dancing.
And as you can see they are beautiful, colourful.
The culprit is the colourful Vineet who loves to mix and match vibrant colours. (most of the choices in the market are black, and shades of grey all the way to white).
These shoes are made to fit. They are a size-less than what one would normally wear. They are light. The soles are made from suede derivatives. They allow you to turn around without friction that cause you to twist and shout on the floor instead of the way you intended.
They can also be made into any colour you like.
Look at how the shoe caresses the bridge of your feet in the following picture. The special strap allows your shoes to become the second skin.
Between them, Vineet and Sahiba own 240 pairs of dancing shoes. That's not a prudent thing to do if you do not use them well, especially in Mumbai with its hot-liquid-air atmosphere.
And your feet are not exactly shoe-friendly. You swear buckets, especially when you dance and the cloth soaks in all the sweat. This in turn set of chemical reactions that are best not imagined or smelled.
Luckily, the beginners usually do not invest in shoes. They use whatever is comfortable or dance in their socks. It's a good idea to wait and watch.
These shoes are meant for dancing.
Dance Factory shoes were born out of a need. The duo first got the materials and still gets them from Tanveer of Aadil in Lokhandwala Complex. The supplier was perplexed when Vineet went to him with his colourful designs and what looked like impractical materials and design. He soon caught on and now they have a good partnership going.
To boot, Sahiba is a designer with years of experience behind her. She knows the stuff and knows how to make shoes that are meant for dancing.
It looks like you don't just have to know dance to be dance evangelist. You have to be a cobbler and a fashion merchandiser too.
These feathers are used to line the shoes on the outside. just for Chamak.
Shoe-mantra trivia: Musicality.
In ballroom dancing, before the masculinity and femininity come together, there's Musicality. Dancing shoes won't move until one learns to listen. So first come lesson in listening and understanding music and then comes dance. And there's very little dance without music.
Reminds me of the only dance I have ever attempted. Headbanging. And the most popular show of that age was the MTV Headbangers Ball.
Shoe-mantar watch: Dance floors in Mumbai.
There are two places where you can see and dance: Zenzi and Shiro.
Thanekars have United 21.
There has been experiments with Latin Live bands in Mumbai. Blue Frog had flown in some artists recently. Apparently, they play for 11 minutes which is quite a long time for someone to do a proper dance.
Why ya dance?
1. The No 1 reason, is stress-busting. People are coming to get an adrenaline high that will bust the blues and nothing like Salsa, or jazz to get those chemicals flowing naturally. Like the gym, the dance classes also come with mirrors where you can watch yourself get high naturally. I'm sure it helps.
Well, I headbanged for the blood rush. It kept me off cigarettes, alcohol and drugs and it's highly recommended.
2. TV shows are a big influence. And that needs no elaboration.
3. Then there are the husbands, boyfriends and a few wives who can be dragged to the dance floor by their partners and we can bet if they will take to dance or not.
4. And for Vineet and Sahida, people who see them dance in different places come to learn from them.
5. Then there are those who look at it as an exercise.
Shoe-mantra: Old adage
You can judge a person by the shoe he or she wears.
Judging these two: They are colourful yet thorough like the shoes they design. And since they so happily narrated their business secrets (most of which I have withheld) to a stranger with a camera, I would like to thank them by sending you to their drool worthy online store.
Drool over the shoes here: http://www.thedancefactory.co.in
You will also find details of their dance classes (in Grant Rd, Bandra and Andheri) there.
And a big thank you to Kayomus and Anubha of Delhi's Ballroom Dreams who guided me to The Dance Factory.