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Bhutan: Wriggling at The Down Under Discotech

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The Down Under Discotech in downtown Jakar hosts the Banga Dance Request and Karaoke Show every weekend.

Pay your 20 ngultrum (about 80 cents) cover charge, pull up a plastic chair (unless you had the foresight to book the sofa), order a Druk beer then choose your victim.

This is no ordinary request session. For just 100 ngu you get to demand a friend or even complete stranger should take to the floodlit dance stage to perform a dance number of your choice.

However, for my first appearance on stage with a small group of fellow Kiwis we were given a small concession.

"Choose your music from this list," my friend Ugyen said.

"I have paid for you to all go on stage next."

The playlist was almost entirely Bhutanese or Nepalese pop. The exceptions were Staying Alive and Stand by Me. I'd left my white jumpsuit at home so opted for lesser of the two evils.

So, unrehearsed and in the spotlight, we discovered it was just possible to salsa to Tammy Wynette!

The audience, which ranged from toddlers to the more elderly, whistled and clapped. I was too busy concentrating on not falling off the small stage to work out if it was appreciative applause or desperate cries to get us off stage.

I thought I'd get my revenge by sending Ugyen and his friends Tenzing and Dorje on stage to dance to what I hoped was fiendishly difficult Bhutanese rap.

They were one step ahead of me, however. As the music began to pump out they strutted on to the stage, suggestively shrugged off their jackets and flung them into the crowd.

"What exactly did you ask for?" someone asked.

A karaoke version of a Tibetan pop song later and I was the only foreigner left in the disco. I was about to leave when the disc jockey announced that Tenzing, the owner of the guest house in which I was staying, had requested that I join him on stage together with Rinzin, the owner of the disco.

Rinzing and Tenzing were Banga Night professionals and had imbibed several drinks. I, on the other hand, was fuelled only by half a can of Tiger beer and fear.

Together however we were expected to gyrate our way through Sim Chacha Boom Chelo Cha (which loosely translates as I Like You More than I can Say).

Rinzin hissed instructions as we danced.

"Turn to the back of the stage and wriggle your bum," he said.

We wriggled.

Surviving members of the audience collapsed into giggles.

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