Ma Faiza, the author, is an international DJ, Artist and Producer and has spent the last decade supporting the growth of electronic music in India. She currently is Head of Music for Mocha Musica in Mumbai.
It is less than a decade ago that restaurants, clubs and bars sprung up in our busy cities with increasing regularity. Over the last couple of years, nearly every other month there was a launch of another brand or concept – from fine-dining restaurants, elite bars to super-clubs in our metro’s, and we were just beginning to find some kind of identity of our own within this new adopted party culture.
Long ago, we were renowned around the world for our temperance, and our openness and freedom to just be. Over the last few years the hip night crowd has been battling to party, encountering hurdles ranging from absurd media hype, unbelievably early closing (ranging from 11.30 pm to 1.30 am depending on where you are in the country), and what appears to be a growing number of ill-informed, narrow minded and uber conservative people.
When I mention our current nighttime state of affairs to people around the world, they really can’t believe it. India has been booming, exploding and due to the many restrictions of the advertising of alcohol here, the party scene has so much money from big brands and sponsors for huge events covering different musical styles, and some of the biggest names in the history of modern music have graced our shores to boldly perform until close to midnight, due to our “timing restrictions”.
The Indian music scene may finally be ready for a revolution. Music lovers are no longer free to enjoy celebrating together with their peers on the dance floor. Our nightlife social community is becoming increasingly more fragmented. No live musicians, no DJ’s and actually no dancing in Bangalore is indicative of a very worrying situation for anyone who enjoys nightlife.
The media are on a crusade. With the “Pune Rave Bust” from last year and the “Moondust Bust” in Rajasthan the year before, now, last month another media labeled “Rave Party Bust” in a posh club in Juhu, Mumbai hit the headlines. Once again, all the attendees were scarily arrested and packed off to the cop station for questioning and drug testing. The media is enjoying portraying most upwardly mobile young people in India as out of control and fuelled by alcohol and drugs, and not content with the early shut down of the nightlife in our cities, it seems the out-of-date Indian government wants to eradicate the evil modern music culture from our souls.
The powers that be don’t even pretend to represent the youth of today. They come from another time, another space and sometimes it appears another planet, where most modern social behaviour is deemed radical and is far from being accepted or merged into our existing culture. Young people need to have an outlet for themselves; to find their new identity, to express their newfound experiences, and to explore new possibilities in this fast-changing modern day India.
Set the youth of today free, as music is the only universal language that can touch anyone, regardless of experience. Surely creating environments where we are legal, safe and secure rather than feeling like criminals and hounded just because we want to experience ourselves, and to dance, to connect and to share with our peers.
These days, India is rapidly playing catch-up in joining the rest of the planet’s need to control just about everything, but of course with an hint of our Indian masala. We have now joined the rest of the world in the global sanctioning against smoking in public places. In a country where people don’t even obey red traffic lights unless a policeman is there, it has been amazing to see the implementation of such a rule across the whole of India, and its effect on the energy of the night. In a world where smoking has become a dirty word, another culture is being born. Areas of grubby little smoker’s are populating our footpaths and roadsides. Tables and stools littered with cigarette butts, ashtrays and trashcans, drawing the smokers out into the open, to blow in the wind.
“After meal” cigarettes and “with drinks” cigarettes and “unwind” cigarettes are forcing us sad little smokers to come together and huddle over an ashtray, cementing new relationships, and building a new community. It’s a first; where caste, colour, creed, status, or even the size of your pants or your wallet can’t change anything.