Christmas The Goan Association of Bengal Christmas dance at the Calcutta Rangers Club is filled with fun and frolics

For many Christians in Calcutta, Christmas Day festivities usually culminate with merry antics on the dance floor of the annual Christmas Dance of the Goan Association of Bengal (GAB) – or with a sidewalk breakfast at Chinatown in the decades where the dancing lasted until the early hours of the morning. hours.

A scene from the pre-pandemic era: It’s 9 p.m. on Christmas Day. The cobbled sidewalks that run along the road just behind Raj Bhavan are teeming with people dressed to perfection – women in dizzying stilettos, ever-sharp gentlemen with bow ties and vests, and young teens donning their finest Sunday clothes. their way to the Goan Association of Bengal Christmas party at the Calcutta Rangers Club clubhouse. A long-standing tradition.

After a hiatus in 2020, the once-in-a-lifetime dance unlike any other dance gala in town is back on December 25.

So what so special about this festive jamboree? My Calcutta have a look.

(LR) Janice DeDonker, Blance and Mark Rodrick, Bruno Sequeria, Gloria and Ryan Francis at prom in the 1960s

Lygie Gomes

Christmas spirit

The very first GAB Yule Ball is believed to have taken place in 1965 and has since captured the spirit of the festival beautifully.

The walls of the colonial Rangers clubhouse (now modernized to bridge the gap between millennials and nonagenarians) keep the Christmas spirit intact year after year. The dance serves as a common meeting point for near and far on Christmas Day. This is where loved ones wish each other a merry “Merry Christmas!” with warm hugs and kisses, old friends catch up with the ups and downs of the past year and everyone, yes everyone, is on the dance floor, making a move or four.

Unparalleled effervescence reigns over the night.

Iona Pacheco, Errol D'Souza and Brian and Aruna Gomes grew up attending the GAB Yule Ball

Iona Pacheco, Errol D’Souza and Brian and Aruna Gomes grew up attending the GAB Yule Ball

Lygie Gomes

“At one point our dance was the only dance gala on Christmas. And it was an exciting experience! We met everyone at the ball. I used to attend the show with 23 of my cousins ​​and we were having a good time, ”smiles Tony Braganza, who has attended it regularly since its inception.

“We sneaked around several times too! He adds with a big laugh.

Amigos, Minstrels and Crest

Music is an integral part of Goan culture. Naturally, a host of musicians are always present at a tour de force of Goa, taking it up a notch effortlessly.

In the 1960s, the dance was set to the tunes of the one and only Amigos – with Tony Fernandes on trumpet and trombone, Joaquim (Kim) Fernandes on saxophone, Lionel Gomes on piano, Francis Vaz and Desmond Lobo on drums, Tony Rego on double bass and Chad Bronchus on guitar. The set filled every nook and cranny with playful rock ‘n’ roll numbers – perfect for a waltz, foxtrot or jive.

    (LR) Tony Fernandes, Joaquim (Kim) Fernandes, Lionel Gomes, Francis Vaz and Tony Rego des Amigos

(LR) Tony Fernandes, Joaquim (Kim) Fernandes, Lionel Gomes, Francis Vaz and Tony Rego des Amigos

Lygie Gomes

The next generation of musicians who performed here were The Minstrels, comprising Augustine D’cruz on tenor saxophone, Edwin D’Cruz on drums, Patrick and Warren Caszo on guitar, Martin Colaco on trumpet and Edgar Saldanha on tenor saxophone and alto. .

“We loved playing the Goan dance because it lasted until 4.30am! We would cover artists like Jim Reeves, Elvis Presley, Engelbert and Tom Jones. I remember a Konkani song, Claudie, has always been a solid success, ”said Edgar Saldanha, proud member of The Minstrels for 22 long years.

Recently the popular band from Kolkata Crest, which has Jeffrey Menezes on piano and vocals, Subhalakshmi Sen (Mishti) on percussion and vocals, Sudipto Sarkar (Johnny) on bass guitar, Nigel Gomez on drums and Steven and Stafford Rebeiro on vocals and guitar, have taken the house down with covers of old school numbers from Little River Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, The Doobie Brothers, Stevie Wonder and America.

The “Mando” mania

The highlight of every Goan Christmas dance is undoubtedly the mando sessions.

Mandos are traditional Goan songs, sung on every occasion, from parties to festivals. The silly dance steps that go along with the mandos are real crowd pleasers. Gentlemen take out their handkerchiefs and ladies their sensual movements, while dancing to the melodies of Xhou Xhou Joana and Aum Saiba Peltori Vetam.

    An unchanged aspect of the dance is the dress of each participant and their participation on the dance floor.

An unchanged aspect of the dance is the dress of each participant and their participation on the dance floor.

Jenna Vincent / Facebook

Besides the band, community members also tackle old ivory during these jam sessions. At first, the late Anto Menezes, Tony Menezes and Anthony Fernandes sang the bubbling tunes. Now the relay is in the hands of Hector D’Almeida, Derek Fernandes and Alisha Alexander.

Mandos unite everyone in this dance and is by far the most popular session. The white handkerchief is always on standby! It’s very nostalgic, ”smiled Derek Fernandes, president of the Goan Association of Bengal.

the mandos are regularly followed by The dance of the birds and the Hokey Pokey, who saw nearly 400 people shake a leg.

Get ready, come on

The other popular segment is games. The organizers get creative with games like “Lucky Spot”, which crowns the dancer dancing to a lucky spot (chosen before the show) on the dance floor. Other games include “First Couple on the Floor” and “Best Jiving Couple” which all encourage those glittering toes at the show to throw in.

“I have attended Goan Dance every year since 1967, except the year my son was born and during the pandemic when it did not occur. Last year Christmas was not complete without the mingling and cheerfulness of Goan dancing, ”said Patricia Fernandes, a member who regularly wins the coveted“ Member who attracts the most guests ”award.

His ticket number on the list of participants this year? No 1.

In the wings

    The ATM committee for the year 2019-2021

The ATM committee for the year 2019-2021

Jenna Vincent / Facebook

The secret to the success of the annual ATM Christmas Dance is the committee, which works meticulously (and quietly!) For each event, making sure it is a big success. “We can’t wait to tighten the leg this year. All Covid-19 protocols will be followed to ensure we all have a good time in a safe environment, ”said Derek Fernandes.

To reserve tickets for this exhilarating event on December 25, call 9836428208.

About Richard Chandler

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