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Dancing the night away

A few years ago my best friend and I used to go Salsa dancing in the U.S., occasionally we would dance together. Either she would be teaching me a few moves or we just didn't feel like dancing with strange gropey men. Whenever we did this, with out fail, men would come ask us to dance with in a minute. I have heard the same story from other people; Minnesota hispanic men could not bear to watch two women dance together.

Tibetans not only have no such qualms, but men even dance with men. Last night I was hanging out with a British birthday boy and friends, after dinner we all went to a night club.

I had watched losar (new year) programs on television in India, so I wasn't entirely shocked, but somehow it is much more impressive live. Live music and dancing seemed to be the main entertainment. The dancing crowd took over the show occasionally. They weren't as flashy as the dancers, mostly wearing western clothing. I was a bit shocked or entranced by the performers' outfits. They were Tibetan style only, well, um, sexier. This means that the women's clothes fit a little tighter than you see on the streets, a bit of skin showed on the women at times but some men had a bare midriff. Everything was also flashier with bright colors and beatiful brocade.

I suspect the performance was part of the Losar celebration (which goes on for weeks) but the night club still wins awards in my book for diversity. They played fast music, slow, pop, Tibetan, Chinese, hard rock, Indian, and even happy birthday in English, Tibetan and Chinese. When that happened a dozen of the lovely dancers came over to our birthday boy and presented him with katas (gauzy white scarves).

The hosts switched back and forth between Tibetan and Chinese and there was a hilarious play that I did not understand (but still found amusing), which I believe was in Tibetan and about the difficulties of finding a good wife.

In true Tibetan fashion the servers were dressed in beautiful (though worn) brocade style chupas (but I know they wore jeans underneath them) and continually refilled our shot-glass size beer glasses (we bought the alcohol by the can, but drank it from the tiny glasses). One of our members had a small drinking contest with a Tibetan who was downing water.

Everytime it was possible, when there was just a singer and no dancers, large amounts of the crowd would climb on stage with the performer and dance. If it was Indian music they did line dancing, Tibetan music they did circle dances and anything else was couple dances. Apparently no one likes to dance alone. Perhaps that is why women danced with women and men with men (though there were some mixed couples). It is all about who you know. During the slow dances you could even see the couples leaning on each other in a sweetly affectionate fashion that homophobia or some sort of machismo has long since made taboo in the U.S.

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