It is around 10:30 pm on Saturday. A mass of people, packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the back section of Santa Fe’s Scottish Rite Temple, throw their hands up and leap in unison to the strong, bass-driven music pulsing through the amplifiers. Overhead, various light machines evoke a club atmosphere and, behind it all, a giant screen projects clips from contemporary Bollywood music videos.
Several podiums have been scattered throughout the crowd to support belly-dancers, most of whom are showing plenty of skin and are draped with sparkling beads.
Spontaneously, the mob parts around several men, wearing turbans, who partake in something resembling a dance-off. The singled-out dancers start out with traditional Indian dance moves known as , but the crowd erupts when they break into modern classics like the worm, some even flipping their bodies through the air.
The music then shuffles between traditional music, salsa and Top 40.
Flashy belly dancers and bumping beats aren’t the only attraction this evening. A host of local restaurants and volunteers donated an array of delicious food and deserts, which could be purchased adjacent to the dance floor. Patrons also take part in astrology readings, henna tattoo application and shopped for traditional clothing.
Tonight’s event marks the 6th annual Bollywood Club Invasion, the proceeds of which support local activists with the Amma Center of New Mexico, who, among other activities, use the money to dish out burritos to Santa Fe homeless population.
While New Mexicans have to wait until June 16 to get their next Amma fix (Amma is the charity’s visionary, also known as the hugging saint), it seemed like tonight Santa Feans were just grateful to have somewhere to dance.