Sunday, April 8, 2007

Notes from BOB

I'm back from BOB Chicago.

The salwar wore beautifully and didn't crumple even after two days of sitting on trains. I may have, however, committed serious cultural infractions by wrapping the dupatta around my neck multiple times and tucking it into my jacket as if it were a wool scarf, instead of wearing it over the jacket (like everyone else I saw) and letting all that tightly-woven Indian cotton warmth trail away behind me, unused. As soon as I got inside the amphitheater, I unwound it and let it fall; but when I was outside... well, it was all of twenty degrees! So... right.

The competition itself was great fun. Highlights include:

Arriving in Chicago, meeting my friends, pulling out all the printed ticket information from the internet, and realizing that BOB Chicago had no official start time. All we had to go on was "the doors will open at 6:15." Quickly explaining to my friends what IST stood for, with a brief confab as to when we should actually arrive, we ended up hitting the venue at about 6:30, and stood in a 4,000 person crowd until the doors actually opened at about five minutes to seven. The program began at 7:00 exactly.

My friend poking me during the "warm-up-the-crowd" pre-show and asking "Blue, what's biodata?"

The MC (whose name I would tell you if I could find it in the program) starting the night off with this statement: "Before the show starts, I would like to ask a favor of all of you. Please stop voting for Sanjaya."

Realizing that everyone onstage who said "bhangra" said it a little differently (often very differently) and feeling a weight lift off my phoneme-addled shoulders.

Ghaamudyaz' use of glow-in-the-dark dandiya sticks. Also: Ghaamudyaz' use of the dark.

All the teams who included balancing (as in "people-on-other-people") work, particularly Rutgers' four-high tower of men, all wearing dhotis and turla.

Wickedly wondering if all the dhotis were sewn closed or if any of them were just tucked in at the waist... and if any of them would fall off.

UBC Girlz Bhangra's live vocalist.

Listening to the MC announce UBC (a group from British Columbia), and hearing the two men sitting next to me instantly start a heated conversation about what kind of visa these women would have to get to come to America for the weekend, and how early they would have had to apply for it (eventually, someone leaned over and explained that they would only have to use passports).

Listening to the two a capella groups that performed while the judges were tallying the points. The first group was... how do I say this nicely... not that good, but the second group was phenomenal. And as soon as the second group finished, my friends and I all turned to each other and said "yeah, they just got served."

Picking the winners in advance and totally calling UCLA's Nashaa. Of course they were going to win. Their set combined the best of Leonard Bernstein with the best of Karan Johar. Plus, their dance told a story. Never underestimate the power of a story.

(They were also, btw, kickass dancers.)

One suggestion to the facilitators: if you could figure out how to feed the 4,000 ticketholders, you would stand to make a fortune. There was no food available in the giant (empty) McCormick Place complex except the overpriced restaurant attached to the Hyatt. There was also nowhere else to go to get food, unless one wanted to run for a mile or two down I-55. My group ended up eating at the hotel restaurant, which was all right (though if you ever go, don't order the drink that includes peaches, milk, and spritzer... the "peaches" are actually that heavy syrup stuff that sits in the bottom of cans, and milk and soda are, in retrospect, a really bad combination).

Anyway. If BOB had set up a food stand next to the entrance, and sold samosas or bhelpuri or anything, they could have charged up to $5 per person without fazing anyone (as the only other food option started its appetizers at $9 and the entrees went all the way up to $50) and made a killing. Of course, they would also have had to make over 4,000 samosas.

And, finally, a note to Team Michigan: We know that it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine. Chanting it continually, between every set, didn't help anyone. Particularly during the second half when y'all got tired out and just started screaming "Blue! Gold!" over and over. Seriously, you guys.

No comments: