17 December 2005

Bhangra and Bollywood

Had an unusual night out yesterday at Club Kali. It's been running for ages, so is probably no longer remotely trendy, but when a couple friends mentioned they were going, I said that I'd heard of it before and had always meant to check it out. Next thing I knew, I was being dragged off to North London, only partially against my better judgment.

Club Kali advertises itself as being for "South Asian alternative sexualities," whatever that might mean. Compared with most London clubs, I saw relatively little sexuality, with most of the energy going into some pretty fierce dancing. A big screen shows Bollywood flicks and people dance on the stage in front of it, eerily mirroring and merging with the onscreen choreography. The music is a crazy, infectious mix of bhangra and some Arabic rhythms along with a little more conventional house, but the overall effect is unlike any other London club I've been in.

A nice touch: on tables all around the room, there were plates of fresh fruit for people to help themselves to. Okay, it was mostly green grapes, but green grapes are my favourite fruit, so I wasn't complaining. A not so nice touch: by 2 am I was gasping for oxygen, as the joint was, like most London clubs, awash in cigarette smoke. It's doubly unpleasant and unhealthy when you're doing a lot of dancing, which leads to a lot of breathing, not a good thing when you're cooped up in a room with hundreds of selfish and oblivious tobacco addicts. Obviously I've been spoiled by having been to clubs in more progressive places like New York and California. Unfortunately, thanks to Tony Blair's being in the back pocket of the tobacco industry, we're still stuck in the dark and smoky ages here.

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