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The Indian Sausage Fest, Always More Men Than Women at Nightlife Venues

I’ve been living in Bangalore now for close to five months and I’m still not really on board yet with the different sets of rules and standards that exist for men and women. Some things seem like quite a big deal. For example, it blows my mind that women who are experiencing their menstrual period are not allowed to enter or worship in a temple. While other things are small and silly but still seem unfair to me…like when I pass by the small food and chai stalls, generally speaking there are only ever men gobbling down some mid-afternoon or late night chow or enjoying some tea while chatting with mates. Is this because Indian women don’t want to do these things or has society deemed it only acceptable that men can worship as a group 365 days a year or go out to eat and drink with their friends in public?

When it comes to heading out for a night on the town, there is definitely a different set of rules between the sexes. Anyone who has ever been out dancing at a club in India can attest to the fact that it’s pretty much a huge sausage fest! There are men, men, men everywhere! Granted my experience is somewhat limited but I don’t think I’m too far off! I have been to Pasha and Aqua at the Park Hotel in Chennai, only a couple of clubs in Goa and a dozen or so spots in Bangalore … but DAMN! Where are the women? Don’t get me wrong, there are a few. But I have a hard time believing that more women don’t like music, cocktails, socializing in public and dancing.

At Tito’s in Goa, I was literally the only woman on a dance floor with 25 or 30 guys. I was having a blast sweating and dancing my ass off with my mates (male business colleagues) but I definitely gave off the wrong signal to a few of the guys near us because I was staring at them a bit too long. In fact, I was literally in a trance a couple of times and just couldn’t look away! These guys were dancing together the same way I had only ever seen men and women dance together. And trust me when I say I’m an expert on seeing guys dance together. Back home in Spain, most of my friends are gay guys and I have been to more gay bars in the past decade than straight clubs. And even there I have never seen men dancing together the way I have in India.

I vividly remember this one group of guys at Tito’s who were “having it” and dancing with all their heart. Picture that scene from the end of the movie Grease when Danny and Sandy are together dancing on that silver thing that moves back and forth. Danny shakes and shimmies with his shoulders so that he is almost of on top of Sandy. Sandy shakes and shimmies with her shoulders, while arching her back and bending backwards. Then they swap. Well, well, well…these guys were recreating that scene almost to perfection and I was torn between thinking they looked cute for having so much fun or thinking that they looked dorky as hell dancing like idiots. I decided that they were really more ‘cute’ than anything but this was surely something that would never happen in Europe or the U.S. with straight guys – hell, even my gay mates would never do THAT in public. But this is India and there is a simple innocence and playfulness to the boys and men here when they dance together that makes me smile. But….there’s too many of them on the dance floor and it’s just not balanced in my opinion.

Recently I spoke to several club and resto-bar owners to ask for their take on the sausage fest situation and there was a unanimous consensus that this was definitely a problem. The biggest challenge they say they face today is how to change things so that there are more women in the bars to equal out the numbers. But how will this ever happen if women are staying in? In Bangalore, the upscale bars and clubs like F Bar and Skyye are doing what they can to resolve the issue by often allowing single women through the door for free (when I say single I do not mean unmarried, just not accompanied by men). Couples pay a cover charge of Rs. 2,500 – 3,000 per couple (USD $60-70). Lastly, right or wrong, single men or groups of guys who are not regulars or VIPs are not permitted to enter the club in a direct effort by owners and managers to end the sausage fest.

Vikram, a reader of my blog, made a comment last week that inspired this blog post. He’s pretty frustrated by all of this, and rightly so. Even when he and his buddies are decked out and dressed to perfection and are 100% willing to pay a cover charge, they are often not allowed to enter the higher end clubs – or they are forced to pay hefty cover charges on the rare occasions when they can pass. As someone who hates inequality, I understand his frustration completely. That would really piss me off if it happened to me.

Yet to be completely honest, on a somewhat selfish level, I sort of like this rule. Because the clubs and bars are still primarily dominated by the men, woman can often feel like a mouse in snake pit at certain bars. Especially given how aggressive and unjustifiably confident some Indian men can be when approaching women. So I’m cool with club owners trying to find ways to alleviate this problem. Not because I think Vikram and his buddies shouldn’t be able to go wherever they wish to enjoy their Saturday night because I do, trust me I do. But what other option do club owners have? As far as I see it, they could implement a ladies’ night but they can’t make every night ladies’ night, can they? And if they are already letting girls in for free most of the time…what else could they do to drive up the numbers? Please comment and share your thoughts because I am sure the bar and club owners would love to hear some new ideas to make everyone happy.

Why are the numbers still so skewed in India in 2011? In the U.S. and Spain, there are always more women on the dance floors than men. And the rules of equality are the same for boys and girls from the time we are teenagers – so the inequality that I perceive here in India is something new for me that I am trying to better understand. Obviously Indian women don’t socialize in public as much as men do, which creates the sausage fest. Is it because women really don’t want to and they have more fun at private house parties? Have Indian women simply not asserted themselves and their equal rights enough yet and family members put their foot down out of tradition and forbid or highly discourage this type of socializing? ((By the way, I know that “family putting a foot down” happens with men as well because I have a buddy in his 30s – a professional cricket player no less – and he has a curfew at home and his parents give him a hard time if he goes out mid-week!))

Whatever the reason, I find it all quite interesting. I wonder if and how soon things will start to change? I’m sure the club and bar owners would definitely love having more ladies around…and I bet the social butterfly and dancing queen in every Indian woman would enjoy blowing off a little steam and heading out on the town every now and again just for fun! So it’s probably just a matter of time now…

XOXO Angela

© Angela Carson, 2011

 

 

I started Angela's Bangalore from my hotel room on the very first day I moved to India in 2011, while struck with jet lag! It was my very first blog, the country's very 1st luxury travel blog. Now I'm rocking YouTube as @ExpatAngela, hope you'll subscribe.

This article has 23 comments

  1. Vinay Vidyasagar (@vinayvidyasagar)

    Lol. Honestly, women feel unsafe around the ‘chai’ shops here because the ‘cheap’ guys there just ogle on. But I find that there is a huge difference between the mindset in Bangalore and one say in Mumbai. For e.g., a girl can go to a chai shop at 1 a.m. in the morning there wearing a really short skirt or a pair of shorts and no one would bother.

    As for the discrimination against men, Oh well, something I have been crying my heart out about for the past 10 years or so 🙂 I agree that certain people need to be kept out, but if you are presentable, and you’re paying, there should be no reason to keep you out.

  2. anonymous

    True. True. Following are reasons of the skewed numbers I can think of:

    – Most men in India have little experience with women, and the slightest alcohol in this setup may bring out the worst in them. India is not at the place where a dance floor of single men and single women can be a completely safe environment. The minorest offense in such a open setting would range from – offensive rude behavior against women, to stalking, to brawls. Even the owners are apprehensive of this and would not want a situation like that. In an envt like this, the only women going would be those with boyfriends/ husbands or women in a big group to feel safe.

    – Do not think of inequality yet. Charging a high price is a sort of assurance that the crowd that is in the place is ‘decent’ and not into brawls

    – In other setups like private parties also, single women remain relatively shy, out of the fear of being trashed talked if they look silly. Spoken for women feel more free.

    – A ladies night night actually go down well….

  3. anonymous

    Also, instead of alcohol, if there are kababs and other free flowing tasty food and fruit juices, or colas, it will attract more women. Alcohol is a bit of a deterrent for single women.

  4. PencilGirl

    So true.. It’s a mindset thing, actually. There’s a rather large group of people here who’re yet to broaden their outlook. Technically, we want to say that men and women are equal, and so we let the women study and work, and even go out for like.. lunch or a movie, maybe. But people get all worked up about a woman actually living her life exactly the way she wants to. There’s this huge fear that we’ll lose our tradition and culture if the women become “too modern”. So whenever there is a step forward, a group of jackasses (like the Shiv Sena, maybe?) appear who protest like it’s the end of the world.
    This mindset governs how the women act as well. If a woman dresses in a certain manner, drinks, or goes out partying, she is called immoral or of course, “too modern”. Family does not hesitate to lay down the law, because “Log kya kahenge?” (What will people say?) Women prefer to avoid being labelled, be a good daughter/wife and “sacrifice”. Because that’s what good girls do. 😡
    Of course, there’re also security issues which you know already. Indian men are, as you say, rather overconfident. And you’ve already written about how safe women in India are.

    • angela_carson

      Hey girl, hope all is good with you. Love the comment and observations. You are spot on! Arrghh…I hate the differences in what I am supposed to do and what I want to do sometimes in India — either for my own safety or for the what people will say 🙁 –angie

    • dapperdolly

      That is so true, even when in the ‘home’ country, in the West, it can be all about ‘what will people say?’, it’s always about other people and what they will think, even people who live elsewhere that your family doesn’t know exists. ‘They’/Reputation is more important than ‘you are my daughter/niece/etc and I will stick up for you’ or ‘I don’t want you go through what I went through’.

      Angela – as for the worship issue, that’s one of those things that has been twisted over time. Menstrual blood was actually seen as sacred and you can even see in temples the blood red or pinkish powder beneath some of the goddesses represents the sacred blood. However, with patriarchy it’s been twisted to be a dirty, unclean thing. Like the left hand being feminine and associated with uncleanliness.

      • dapperdolly

        Damn, that was supposed to say – even when not in the ‘home’ country*

      • angela_carson

        Hi, thanks so much for the information and for taking the time to comment. All of this is still so new for me that I promise you forget I am not supposed to do certain things from time to time and have to remind myself that I live in India now and women aren’t supposed to do certain things 🙁 Doesn’t make me happy but so many other things about India do that I am happy to look the other way 🙂 –angela

  5. Vikram S Dwarakanath

    Hi Angela,
    Thank you for entertaining my suggestion, i appreciate your effort very much.

    I would like to share my thoughts on “pencilgirl’s” comments.
    It is a very well known fact about political implications on the party scenes in Bangalore… i should know, i’ve been here for 37 years (give or take a few years in socal).
    This is a city which lost it’s innocence, more than a decade ago. i’ve partied till 6:00 A:M and after a brief sleep session, get back to another binge n get back home with all of my sanity intact(including dropping the girl back home…safely :-))

    “Indian men are, as you say, rather overconfident”… i would not agree to that statement. This is an example which screws a lot of credible men with a blanket statement, (equivalent to”all men are dogs!!!”).

    This is no more, the city i was born and raised in. This is a city, i really want to get out of,
    but i can’t… yet 🙂

    Cheers
    Vikram

    • PencilGirl

      @Vikram- You’re right. When I say Indian men are over-confident, I’m making a huge generalization. But the fact is, there are a number of men who do make a move, no matter how uninvited. Add a “ladki ki na ka matlab haan hota hai” (when a girl says no, she means yes) mentality, and you have a girl (especially someone who isn’t too confident or assertive) feeling quite uncomfortable. One bad experience can make you wary of going out for a long while, don’t you think?
      Although to be honest, I have no idea about how it is in clubs or bars around the city, because the only parties that I’ve attended are defence parties, and my Dad is usually around somewhere. This does make me feel a little more secure. Yet, there are times when guys get drunk and persistent. Never happened to me, but I’ve seen it happen. Nevertheless, I agree with what you said, so maybe you could edit my statement to ‘There are some Indian men who are overconfident’? 🙂
      Also, It’s been a little less than a decade since I moved here, and I’m only just beginning to taste the city, so I guess you know Bangalore better than I do. But from whatever I’ve seen and experienced, I’m falling quite in love with it. (This might have something to do with the fact that I’m not too much of a party person, and have not traveled a lot either.. :|) 😀

      • angela_carson

        I’m with you on loving Bangalore, sweetie! And agree that loads of Indian men are insanely over-confident because I am prey to them every time I go out (which is often). HEY!!! I am shocked that you have never been out to the places you read about in my blog. Fancy coming with me to ladies’ night some week? We could split our night up between 2 bars so you can pack a lot into a short time, free drinks (even mocktails if that is what floats your boat), etc… but really, you need to experience the flip side of life even if just for research for one of your blog posts 🙂 –ange

    • angela_carson

      Hey Vikram, you were indeed my inspiration for the post… I probably wasn’t as tough on the topic as you would like but I hope you understand why.
      With respect to the “over confident” comment by PencilGirl, this is somethat that I have also said over and over again in various blog posts and when complaining to friends. Never in my whole life have I been approached and spoken to or hit on quite like I have in India. Men who I have never glanced at and given signals to hit on me. Guys who should know that they would not be my type (super unattractive or old) hit on me. It’s insane. I know when guy is “out of my league” or when a guy seems interested in me and only then would I try to meet someone but so many Indian men don’t care — they try to score with me anyway. It’s insulting and annoying. I’ve even had a guy come up to me at Skyye and graphically detail what he wanted to do to me in bed as his “opening line” … it was disgusting. I agree with her, although not all men are like that so I guess we could both say “many Indian mean are…” Trust me, if you were on the receiving end of it you wouldn’t be happy about it…

      • Vikram S Dwarakanath

        Ladies,
        I can understand the reason for you to feel the way you do. I have been witness to these kind of incidents myself and frankly, it disgusts me. But as they say “It takes all kinds…”.
        On the flip side , I’ve had my share of experiences with “not so nice” women too and some of their antics have had drastic effects on people’s lives.

        I guess, what i’m trying to express here is,
        It wouldn’t be fair to all the fantastic women i have known to blanket them under one single category.

        A suggestion if i may Angela, the next time you are out in a club or a bar, it would help to have a few guys in the group just to deter the hyenas… u know, the scarecrow tactic 😉

        Thank you ladies, for sharing your thoughts with me.

        Cheers and have a great weekend 🙂

  6. Abdullah K.

    The first club I visited in India was Tito’s in Goa, I thought I had walked into the wrong type of place. There was just the guys, not a single woman. It was surreal.
     
    Anyway, I have observed that Indian women, especially the unmarried and younger ones tend to be inhibited. Perhaps that keeps the lot of them from going to bars and parties, apart from the ‘over confident’ Indian men that you mentioned.
     
    As for the over confident Indian men, I think they are just plain desperate, out playing the ‘numbers game’. I have seen African students and tourists in my country use that, hit on every woman till they manage to get one. It is funny to look at it, but sad when you try to see it from their perspective.

  7. AP

    There are actually significantly less women than men in India because of selective gender abortions. This ties into the complexity of dowry and a whole load of effed up shit in India. You better start learning to love dirty smelly sausage if you’re in India.

    • angela_carson

      Hello AP…Out of curiosity, did you actually read the entire article? I’m trying to understand your comment but can’t sort out what that has to do with the topic at hand 🙁 –angela

  8. TB

    yes… it sucks living in india as a single… though i understand the problem perfectly…. but i still hate these upscale bars/clubs and sometimes the country too … guys dance with guys because there are no other choices here….
    and i think… the m/f ratio here is very bad too … and yea the indian mindset is another big problem …
    ii have been to many countries, and no other country (dont know about middle east) has this problem other than india 🙁

    • angela_carson

      Thanks for commenting, but, ummmmm…I don’t think it sucks being single and living in India AT ALL. I’m wondering where you feel I eluded to that? I love it here and am having a super time. And I love the upscale bars and clubs, too. It’s a pity that you have such a poor opinion of things here. I’m sure you have your reasons…

  9. Pingback: Is Inequality To Blame For Outrage Over Aishwarya Rai’s Post-Baby Body? « Angela's Adventures in Bangalore

  10. prasad3130

    Unlike in the west, in India, the habit of drinking as a means to socialize is not common. Neither among males nor among females. The majority (I mean more than 90%) people have grown up socializing with family, neighbors and the community they live in. So there has been no requirement of knowing or making friends with absolute strangers in bars or restaurants. That’s why you see so many festivals, family celebrations, family gatherings which are attended in huge numbers. As far as I remember, even in city like Bangalore where making friends with neighbors has been waning because of lifestyle and work culture, in any given year one is invited to 10-15 wedding celebrations, festivals, or get-togethers.

    The people you see commonly in pubs are those who have been to western countries, defense families (coz of historical reasons), super rich people and nowadays young college going students or working people. Whether this is good or bad is a topic of debate (IMHO, it is good).

    About misbehavior with women, this is common not only in pubs but also in crowded places like buses, trains.. This has probably to do with lack of good family values and respect for women. It is very unlikely that a sensible man would ask any woman out in pub to start a relationship, since the culture of arranged marriages is widely followed. Again, whether this is good or bad is topic of debate (IMHO, it is good). Also, unlike in west the implementation of strict laws is lacking with law enforcement although many laws are at par with western countries. So in case of brawl, you can expect the police to arrest every person in the pub rather than finding the culprit. Moreover, in most cases culprit would finally get the bail first because of his influential father or some relative (that would be the first reason why he would have no second thoughts of starting a fight).

    So India is very complex and not so easy to understand. The culture, the lifestyle, the society and developments are taking place according to the course of nature.

    • angela_carson

      Hi, thanks for adding to the conversation. India CAN BE basically the exact opposite life to anything I’ve known. For the most part – in my circle of Indian friends and the few expats I’m friends with – life isn’t different with respect to our social scene (aside from the early closing hours of Bangalore, etc). The dance floor issue is always different for some reason though, aside from the hotter clubs in Goa and the big cities, it still makes me giggle to see men dancing together as I’ve only ever seen couples do. Really makes me smile and reminds me I’m in India 🙂 -angela

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