Mumbai Queer Azaadi March
It’s just under a week before the Mumbai Queer Azaadi March (QAM) festivities begin. In anticipation of their upcoming kick-off performance, I wanted to pay a visit to a rehearsal of India’s first and only queer Flash Mob, a dance contingent organized and supported by Yaariyan, the youth branch of The Humsafar Trust. Last year, the Flash Mob made a big splash in the media when it became India’s first queer-organized dance group of this kind. Today, they are prepping for another media blitz set to start off this month’s QAM festivities. During one of their rehearsals, I sat down with the group’s choreographer Kam Gade. This is what he had to say:
I happened to be there to witness last year’s Flash Mob, the first of its kind in South Asia. I covered the event with filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan, Executive Producer of Solaris Pictures. He turned our combined footage into a viral video. In case you’re interested, have a look:
There really isn’t much of a science to the Flash Mob. But, in a way, that’s the point. “We’re just here to have fun,” says Kam. Still, for other Flash Mobbers, the group is much more than a social hang-out. “It feels good to be a part of something big like this. It makes you feel like you have a place in this world. This is my place,” says Sheldon, a Flash Mob dancer. For all of its participants––gay, bisexual, lesbian, queer, transgender, straight alike––it’s about getting together and forging important emotional bonds through coordinated physical exercise. Ok, I wouldn’t call it “exercise” for its participants. Nevertheless, it seems that for them, the physical act of sweating together serves the metaphorical role of the shedding of labels that bind them to particular sexual, ethnic, religious, or economic identity categories. If taking over public spaces, like Marine Drive in south Mumbai, constitutes the symbolic act of foundation building, then it is their blood, sweat, and tears (of joy) that make the cement, caulk, and porcelain tiling that help erect this community.
Keep an eye out for the QAM Flash Mob 2013 on YouTube starting on January 26th.