For some people, the first time they take the stage is the moment they know they’re home. They live for the lights, the beats, and the indescribable high from performing a routine. Varun Jindal is one of those people. As the Head of Marketing for the Bollywood dance video sharing platform Bollyshake, Varun’s days are quite literally filled with dance. But his 9 to 5 aside, it’s the time he spends choreographing routines with college friends and family that he still lives for. He won’t call himself a professional dancer—far from it, actually—but it’s his die-hard devotion for the art form that we love. That’s why for Kama’s first installment of the “He’s a Fly Guy” series, we wanted to get to know this Dallas-based creative whose love for Bollywood beats keeps him dancing through life—no matter what hiccups come along.
Let’s Take it From the Top
“[Dance] was something that always interested me, even as a kid. My first real memory of it was in high school with my buddy, Sameer. He and I would watch dance videos on YouTube and attempt to learn the moves, with some very poor results. Seeing college groups blend dance styles like bhangra and hip-hop was so fascinating to us. The performers in the videos had such an aura of ‘cool’ around them. It’s probably what inspired us to start our own dance team with our common friend, Hassan, called Punjabbawockeez [at The University of Texas-Austin in 2010].
“I still remember my first stage performance in college with my group, I ended up spraining my ankle pretty badly the day of the show. I decided to pop in a lot of painkillers and just power through those 8 minutes on stage. My foot may or may not have swollen up to the size of a cantaloupe afterward…totally worth it.
“[The Punjabbawockeez] mission was to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously. Truth-be-told, we weren’t all that great (skill-wise) that first year, but we unabashedly had a ton of fun every time we did have an opportunity to perform, whether it was for charity, at a middle school, or on stage.
“As the years flew by, the skills improved but the core values and camaraderie stayed the same…This not only led to some amazing friendships, but also, believe-it-or-not, a handful of relationships through dance mixers. One of the captains is getting married this winter, and he met his fiancé through a Punjabbawockeez-related event!”
Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
“I actually have two favorite memories dancing. One was meeting America’s Best Dance Crew’s Poreotics one day and just jamming out with them and co-hosting a workshop. Just an unreal experience hanging out with such humble and carefree dance legends. The other was performing at my friend (and co-captain) Hassan’s brother’s engagement party! Most of us had no idea who anyone was in the audience, but the moment the music started we were in our element. Someone’s pants ripped that night (thankfully not mine). It was a great night.”
Dance Master Lessons
“I’m not sure I’m in a position to give pro tips at all, but the best part of dance is there is no right or wrong. Let the music pick you up. It can be an old song, it can be a Disney track, even Spice Girls! Who cares? You want to do a Bollywood dance to Backstreet Boys? More power to you. Luckily there is such a massive (and friendly) community around dance that anyone and everyone is welcome. Some pursue a fitness routine, some gravitate toward urban houses, some learn online and some take classes. Just keep the dance alive. My outlet right now is weddings. If there aren’t any, I consider crashing some. (Hasn’t come to that yet)”
The Proverbial Dream Team
“If I could dance with anyone, dead or alive…it’s a very odd list but it would be Jimmy Fallon, Ranveer Singh, Les Twins, Govinda, and, of course, Jabbawockeez…I like the ‘Cupid Shuffle’ which simply tells you exactly what to do. Easy peasy.”
The Show’s Not Over Yet
“Right now the jam is ‘Kala Chashma’, but there are just way too many to choose from [for a favorite]. Within Bollywood, pretty much anything Mika Singh does has a good beat to it. I have such a special place for bhangra, so Jassi Sidhu’s music makes my heart sing…Dance will remain with me until the end of my days. At 90, I’d want to throw my walking stick down and just do the macarena. My hip might give out, but that’s okay.”