Welcoming the Supreme Court’s directive to Maharashtra asking it to start issuing licenses to dance bars in the next 10 days, Anil Gaikwad, owner of Vicky Bar, Byculla, said bar owners are already ready to take measures to ensure there is no obscenity.
“We were already maintaining a distance between stage and sitting area. We do not mind putting a railing as barricade. But cameras providing a live stream to police stations is not acceptable,” he said.
The Supreme Court Wednesday said that four dancers could perform on stage while other dancers can wait in green room. It also directed to remove condition of putting CCTV cameras for live streaming at performance area. Cameras would only be put near entry and exit points.
Pinky Choudhary, a former bar dancer, who lives in Congress House, watched the news on television channels, Wednesday afternoon. Other former bar dancers however remained unaware of the development till evening. “The SC has brought us hope. A lot of men have families and they are scared to get captured by CCTV cameras while they see bar dancers. Also, women could not dance knowing they were being watched by the police,” said Chaudhary.
Avinash Shetty, owner of Grant Road’s Dilbar Bar, said he will now approach the police for renewing license as the condition to put CCTV cameras is removed. “The police had laid such strict conditions that we were scared to renew our license,” he said, adding that customers will have problem if they are under scrutiny. His business had declined by 70 per cent after bar dancing was banned by Maharashtra government.
But a 26-year-old bar dancer from Agra, also living in Congress House, is apprehensive. “We have been hearing that bar dancing would resume for years. I have decided to get clothes for dancing stitched only when the bars get licences,” she said. She currently works as a waitress at a bar in Khar. Her income has declined as the tips from customers is meagre.
Make-up artists of dancers, tailors and photographers are also hopeful to finally see bar dancing legal. “I used to earn well for clicking pictures for few hours a day. But after it was banned, I had to borrow money to make ends meet. If bar dance is made legal, I will go back,” said Ahmed Patni, a photographer.
Adarsh Shetty, president of Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said the court has asked them to comply with set directives within three days following which Maharashtra police has to grant licenses in 10 days. The association has 1,200 registered performance bars in the state.