Breaking gender norms

'Pink Divas'

Breaking gender norms

Sentences like ‘You like pink? But it’s such a girly colour!’ only further reinforce ugly stereotypes and yet, they are heard on loop at regular intervals. Of the many things that are predetermined in our lives, the gender binary is one of them and informal rules like ‘Pink is for girls and blue is for boys’ are popular even now. Being ‘girly’ is nothing short of a plague for a heteronormative society.

But there are some who strive to break such gender barriers, even if it means they will ‘stick out’. Dressed in pretty sequinned tops and short skirts, sporting heels and jewellery, and wearing the perfect shade of red lipstick and mascara, Varun, Sagar, Praveen, Srini, Harsh, Manas, Prateek and Saurav combine to form the ‘Pink Divas’. A dance group unlike most others, they don’t hesitate to cross imagined boundaries. With each performance, the lines between the defined masculine and feminine disappear and are replaced by inclusivity of various personal choices.

The group recently performed at the Bangalore Queer Film Festival, where they brought out their inner ‘divas’ to songs like ‘Banno Tera Swagger’ and ‘Ghani Bawri’ from ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’, ‘Bang Bang’ by Jessie J featuring Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, ‘DJ Waley Babu’ by Badshah featuring Aastha Gill and more. To someone who isn’t gender sensitive, their performance might come as a surprise but to the film festival audience, they were nothing short of fabulous.

Formed in 2011, the group is the brainchild of Kareem, who decided to bring together people who are passionate about dancing, irrespective of their sexuality and gender preferences. There have been many line-up changes in the group, and ‘senior’ members like Varun say that this is a way to connect to people who aren’t defined by popular stereotypes.

There is no requirement to join the group except, “Being sensitive to the LGBT community and taking practice sessions seriously. We start practicing a few months ahead of a performance and since we can’t meet everyday, we appreciate people who commit to the group,” adds Varun.

Many members joined the ‘Pink Divas’ even though they don’t have a history with dance because they love to perform and this group is more than just busting out the best and cleanest moves. Says Manas, who joined the group in 2014, after seeing a previous year’s performance, “I’ve made many good friends in this group. We not only practice but also go for dinners, movies and just hang out.”

Prateek, another member, adds, “We are different from other dance groups because we aren’t trained dancers. We just get together and have fun, to give something to the world. This is a way of integrating people.” They might not be professionals but they do take the pains to learn intricate steps. “Most of the choreography is done by us, though we take some steps from videos,” says Prateek.
Their song selection mainly includes item songs from different Indian languages and some English songs. “They have to have a good beat,” they explain. “This year was rather interesting because there weren’t many item songs. Everyone brings in song suggestions and we have a rigorous filtering process after that. We mostly improvise and add that sizzle to our performance as we don’t want to seem like a replica of the music videos,” says Prateek.

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