Origins – Syncing In
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“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music” – George Carlin
Dance, a genre appreciated by many, is definitely fun to watch. However, the simplest steps can be tougher than they look, which is what makes it both difficult and rewarding to master. For many, dance is often more than just entertainment.
Dance in insti is largely synonymous to InSync, the dance club. From organising workshops to hosting events like AIDS and the sassy salsa night, InSync offers everything an aspiring and enthusiastic dancer in insti needs and has hence become an integral part of insti cult. But, not so long ago, this wasn’t the case…
The institute elections were coming up. Like many other sophomores, Anshul Jain, ‘Zen’ to his friends, decided to go for a PoR, a cult one in his case. Having done plenty of dramatics in his first 2 years, the position of the Institute Dramatics Secretary was the one he’d initially planned on standing for. As luck would have it however, a friend of his was standing for the same post. Taking the advice of “well-meaning” seniors who assured him that being a dram secy meant not doing any dram for the entire year, he decide to stand for the post of Music and Dance Secretary instead. Back in 2004, both genres had a combined post, but the focus of the post was more on music. Events like Surbahar, Goonj, etc. were already established. Dance wasn’t very established as a genre, having only Gyrations as a GC. As a result, IITB was incompetent in most inter college competitions: not due to lack of dancers, but because in the absence of a common platform, most people only knew dancers from their own hostel. However, that was soon about to change.
Having made his mind up, Anshul stood for and was elected to the post of music and dance secretary. On his agenda had been the formation of a club for dancers, to give the genre the boost it required within the institute at the time. The major impetus for setting this idea in motion had come from his mentor, Anirudh, a PhD student, who used to choreograph for PAFs. As is the case with all things in insti that matter, the decision to call it InSync was last minute and spontaneous. 2 days before the launch, they were all still struggling with the name. They decided to start making the poster, figuring they’d add the name later. Anshul thought of ‘sync’, but Anirudh felt it was incomplete. Finally, they decided on In-Sync. The club was formally inaugurated on 2nd Oct, 2004.
A new chapter in dance
For the first time in insti, dance workshops were conducted, albeit by passionate seniors hoping to create and sustain a culture in their enthusiastic juniors. Practice for various collegiate events, scattered though it may have been (the dance room wasn’t built till a few years later), wasn’t as disjoint, and the institute started moving up in these competitions. As enthu and spirit rose, the idea of a showcase, by the club, for the insti junta, was casually suggested in a late night SAC bakar session. The suggestion was just as quickly discarded, owing to an unshakable belief in IITian laziness – after all, why would anyone put in real work without tangible incentives?
But the idea stuck. Before we open that chapter though, let’s fast forward a bit, to nearly a year later. The notable highlights of this period – Anshul’s successor, Siddhartha Mishra was to be the last Music and Dance secy. From the year after that, the post of Music and Dance Secretary was officially split into two, with a separate secy being assigned to each genre. The entire H8 gang, who were the dance hub of the insti then and consecutive Gyrations winners, passed out, along with Anirudh. Now in his 4th year, Anshul’s tenure might officially have been over, but he remained a crucial part of InSync, as a founding member, a mentor and an involved alum.
AIDS comes to campus
So, how did the first AIDS come to be? With a few exceptions, the third year batch wasn’t exceptionally cult enthu. The sophie batch, however, was. While there were, of course, many who contributed in every way to make sure that the first rendition of AIDS saw the light of day, it was this batch that gave the first AIDS most of its core team. Along with Anshul and a few notable seniors, the key team behind the conceptualisation and execution of AIDS consisted of five sophies – Praneeth, Mayuri, Rohan, Hrishikesh and Talvinder. Talvinder later went on to become the first Institute Dance Secretary for the 2006-07 tenure, which was when the post was officially split. He was also the one who designed the current InSync logo.
A discussion held at the Coffee Shack in Nov 2005, turned to that forgotten SAC bakar session – except this time, the decision taken was affirmative. Jan 13th, 2006 was decided as the date. Being friday the 13th, the theme was fittingly set to voodoo, ‘Black Magic’. But that was the easy part. As we all know, making something happen the first time is pretty much a study in hurdles, one of the bigger ones convincing the then Prof-in-charge of cult, Prof. Kundu, for the budget. Having no precedents as to what to do for costumes, etc., jugaad, alums and contacts were put to use. With no organised or mass practice spaces available, practices took place wherever space was found. H4, 5, 6 lounges, SOM well, etc.
“Unlike today’s AIDS organisation, with heads appointed for every major requirement, it was a very informal setup. However, the team was passionate and cohesive. Praneeth even used to sleep in TV room of H6 where prod for AIDS was kept, to make sure nobody destroyed them!…
…Since the convocation hall was then still used for lectures, we’d get it just 1-2 days prior. One incident I remember, was when a few of us slept in the convocation hall post practice, our mattresses right in front of the stage area. I was the first to wake in the morning, and found the hall filled with students, class about to begin! The prof was about to come, and we were sleeping front and center. I quickly woke everyone up and we shifted to a corner, where we promptly fell asleep again.” – Zen
One of the unusual part of AIDS is the name itself, which was utilized to the fullest to generate publi for the first one. Just before the semester ended in November, handmade posters (yes, that was how they did it back then) showed up in hostels, “It took 48 years for AIDS to come into campus”. No details or context, which, needless to say, created the buzz they’d hoped for, which made the final reveal in Jan all the more effective.
The Room of Requirement
The next most notable shift took place in 2008, Ankit Fogla’s tenure, when the dance room finally came to be built. Before this, there were no place as such to assemble/practice, and they would use scattered spaces, such as hostel TT rooms etc (since the gate glass doubled up as a mirror). It also limited the contact dancers had with each other, since their hostelites were the only people they saw regularly. With a SAC room finally getting emptied, Ankit took his chance. Kundu Sir and the then DOSA were welcoming of the idea, so he managed the funding, but channeling the funds took some effort, with the flooring alone taking nearly a year to be completed.
Once the music system and mirrors were set, needless to say, it pretty much became the hub of all things dance in insti. Regular jammings became common, and workshops gained popularity. 2008 is also remembered for the first and last 2-day AIDS ever to be conducted. Being IIT Bombay’s 50th year of existence, the then team decided to kick their annual event up a notch for the golden jubilee. They ran the gamut, from having professional performances to IIT Kanpur and Kharagpur sending teams for the event, ensuring that the event would be memorable.
From then to now, …
InSync has moved forward, shifting and settling into the club it is today. From bagging the top 3 spots in many competitions such as Mood Indigo, Unmaad and Malhaar, to being featured on Sony and Bindaas TV, to showcasing performances at the Kalaghoda Arts Festival, to increasing professional involvement and interaction, conducting flash mobs, it is constantly evolving. With many of its older members coming in to help with choreographies and organisation, and just to be a part of the various performances that take place throughout the year, the club remains as much a part of its alums’ lives as it is the students’ – and will likely continue to do so.