ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women-only!

Reframing of Erotic Lavani in Contemporary Maharashtra

While the repertoire of erotic performance of lavani has developed largely for male consumption, the recent emergence of women-only spectators of lavani is unusual and puzzling. How has lavani missed the moral outrage over the articulations of female sexual desire that pervades the public domain? This paper discusses how the possibilities for transgression of heteronormative desire in this phenomenon are complicated by caste and class divisions, the work–leisure binary, and the politics of the folk. It seeks to uncover the contested process of stigmatisation of lavani as vulgar and its simultaneous celebration as the folk which is embedded in the formation of lavani audiences.

Women dancers were dancing on the fast beats of lavani. The loud music was matched by the whistles and shouts of audiences dancing wildly. The auditorium was full of hundreds of women, young, middle-aged and even old, in pinned up saris and salwar kurtas, with hair tied, carrying purses and scarfs. They were dancing zealously on sensuous lavanis in aisles and front space of the auditorium, even in the narrow space between their seats, with plastic whistles in hands, and purses on their shoulders, occasionally spreading the pallu of their sari or dupatta up on their head like a typical lavani step. A middle-aged woman in sari was dancing non-stop. There was a young woman with a small child on her hand and a baby diaper bag on her shoulder, jumping on her seat. The male comparer had to calm the women with a warning that the show will continue only when the women quieten down.

—Constructed from the field notes of the researcher of a women-only lavani show, Pune, August 2016.

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Updated On : 28th May, 2022
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