Wherever I go in the world, I check out before I travel if there is any Argentine Tango there and if so: who, what, when and where. The internet and especially FaceBook is great for that.
Due to this, I already had some contacts and two scheduled tango-DJ-gigs before I even arrived in Mumbai, India;-).
Sadly my travel plans changed and I had to cancel the DJ gigs. Fortunately it was no problem to schedule new ones in Mumbai; cool! In the end I DJed twice and had a great time!
My primary FB contact was Kitu Gidwani. She organizes a milonga here and she picked me up when I was going to DJ there.
Her milonga is held once a month in quite a new place nearby my hotel: Cool Chef Cafe.
|Restaurant, bar and dancehall and party place.|
|Kitu and the owner of Cool Chef Cafe.|
Kitu, an Indian actress and TV personality, wanted to learn more about tango DJing and I wanted to know more about tango in Mumbai, so we decided to get together for a nice lunch at her home.
|Kitu's cat was very interested in our lunch as well...hahaha!|
|There seems to be a local shoe tailor who makes good tango shoes, like these pairs that Kitu had made by him.|
Ok, back to Cool Chef Cafe. Although located in an unlikely area, it is indeed a cool place, as the name indicates. Just look at the great graffity murals and the interior design:
On weekends the place is packed, since it has a special room that is ideal for parties and dancing. This is also where the milongas are held:
|Lounge area: sit, relax, talk, eat, drink;-)|
|Asking Kitu to pose (cause while dancing it was hard to photograph) was not a successful request; she does not like 'fake'.|
|So it made her laugh...|
In Delhi it is bigger, with milonga's three times per week and a core of about 75 pax. Despite Mumbai being this huge city with 17 million inhabitants, the hardcore of tango is 35 pax tops. There is the CCC salon once a month, and there is another small milonga/practica/lesson once a week, although that one is cancelled often.
Further there is a bit of tango in Pune and in Bangalore.
CCC is -as mentioned- an initiative of Kitu, the other activities are coming from Vivek, who is the only local to teach tango at the moment. There have been expats who did some teaching here in the past years. And of course, like everywhere in the world, there are guest teachers coming over every now and then to teach. And of course some of the dancers here go to Buenos Aires to dance and learn and they occasionally go to festivals in other countries.
Kitu, seen on the back in the picture above, came in contact with tango about 5 years ago and immediately fell in love with it. She started organizing workshops, milonga's, etc. and is trying ever since to build up a tango community here.
It requires a lot of patience, though, and a lot of work.
The dancers are from all religions, there are about as many men as women, there are locals and some expats.
On the following pics we see how international the tango scene can be, in an unexpected way:
on the first pic we see on the left a French/HongKong-Chinese expat couple that happened to play an important role in Singapore's early tango days. What a coincidence, since I live part-time in Singapore!
On the right we see an Indian guy dancing with me. Indian, but living in Germany and raving right away about El Corte, a Dutch milonga. Again: what a coincidence, since I live part-time in the Netherlands;-)!
In other words: the dancers in Mumbai are mainly Indian, but it still feels international in this tiny community.
I sincerely hope that the Mumbai tango community will succeed to grow and flourish within the coming years. Salsa is quite popular there, so why is it so hard for tango to become more known and popular??? Does it not appeal as much to the Indian taste and personality? Honestly speaking I don't know and neither did the local people I got to ask so far.....