DANCING QUEENS IN LAHORE


The Dancing Girl of Lahore

A trip to the fatherland.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Heera Mandi, Lahore’s fabled red light district, is almost dead. Most dancing establishments have shut down. The courtesans no longer pretend to be mere dancers. Operating as full-fledged sex workers, they have set up discrete bases in the city’s other areas where they solicit clients on cell phones. 

However, tonight as I'm walking in a Heera Mandi street, while the moon is rising above the minaret of the grand Badshahi Mosque, I can hear the music of dholaks and harmoniums, and the tinkling of womens' pajebs (anklets). 

Stepping into an establishment, I find a lady sitting on a sofa. Her face is gleaming with layers of makeup. Dressed in a parrot-green kurta and mullah shalwar, she is wearing one necklace and two finger rings. On the floor, her musicians are waiting for customers. I try talking to her but she is refusing to tell me her name. She is not saying where she has come from. But now she is getting up to dance for me. She is the last of the Heera Mandi legend.

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore

The Heera Mandi chronicle

Pakistan Diary – The Dancing Girl of Lahore


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