New Money, New Parties — and New Clashes

Through the cigarette smoke and above the thump of the subwoofers at the base of the stage, Manu Ananth looked out at the crowd seated in chairs. He saw heads bobbing and bodies swaying to the Indian trance music he sang. But nobody would get up. Nobody was dancing.

"It's really irritating when people aren't standing up because they're not allowed to," Ananth says a few weeks after that Bangalore show, which featured his band Tatva Kundalini. "It's a fundamental right to dance. How can they stop me from dancing? It's my body."

The crowd of a few hundred fans didn't dance because of a law passed by the local government: Dance in a club, and you could be arrested.

This is part seven in's 10-part special series on nightlife around the world. Click here every weekday through May 9, 2008 for the latest story.

A thousand miles away, 24-year-old Arshi Uppal sits with her legs crossed on the roof of Urban Pind, a club in a wealthy section of New Delhi. She wears a short leopard-print dress and gold flats, her red martini on the table in front of her and a cigarette burning slowly in her hand.

"What do we do on the weekends?" she asks, repeating the question. "Party on Saturday. Party on Sunday. Party through the week. There isn't a day without a party."

For young India, for modern India, there's no shortage of imported liquor, imported drugs and parties with imported themes that were restricted to five-star hotels just a few years ago. But there is also great conflict between the abandonment of tradition by the young rich and the conservative values of the older generation.

Nick Shiffrin/ABC News

It's a conflict that is shaping India's next generation -- whether it will be allowed to spend more and wear less in clubs with Kama Sutra sculptures on the walls, or have to cope with laws that forbid dancing.

"Young people choosing to do drugs, have sex openly -- that's always threatening for a system that wants to keep control," Ananth, a 34-year-old singer and potter, told ABC News. "People are threatened with the young saying, 'I'm really pissed off with your world.' That's not something people want to know."

But spend time in Delhi's upscale bars -- where drinks can cost $15, cover charges top out at $40, and young women clutch designer handbags as they find ways to dance three nights a week -- and it appears that India has already chosen its path.

Nick Shiffrin/ABC News

"Three to four years ago, you walked out with a spaghetti dress, you'd be stared at," says Uppal, a public relations agent. "Now there's kissing in the streets. You can wear whatever you want. You can do whatever you want. It's just normal now."

The Young and the Restless

Pub-hopping in Bangalore, one 20-something Indian was inspired to smoke. He and his friends, he says, were "sloshed," and headed to an area called Hoskote for what he calls the "best weed around."

"We bought enough for the group and started rolling joints underneath the street lamp," he says, refusing to be identified by name.

All of a sudden six police cars pulled up, sirens blazing.

After a long discussion, the police officers agreed to let them go for the equivalent of $50.

"'OK boys,'" he says, quoting the police officers. "'We know you're young. We know you're here to party. But there's a time and place for everything. And next time you want to smoke weed, don't do it on the top of your car.'"

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