When I walked into Theater and Dance’s auditorium at 8 p.m. sharp on February 24 to watch the show Too Hot, I expected fire alarms to be ringing from such a “hot” show. Instead, audience members were told to step back outside into the cold while performers continued to set up for 30 more minutes. The show, which was organized to address taboos and traditions of South Asian cultures, ironically started by upholding the stereotype that South Asians are always late.
But the show started to heat up when it finally got started. The 16th annual show was put on by Indus, UC Santa Barbara’s South Asian club. Too Hot’s focused on issues that South Asian families don’t usually talk about in order to break the taboo claiming that Indians beat around the bush when speaking about certain topics.
The emcees addressed topics that most South Asian families are not comfortable talking about, including marriage, drugs, mental health, homosexuality and sex. They created a dating profile video to comically point out that marriage is a big deal to South Asians and thus it should be spoken about freely. A group of rappers took the stage to mock rappers who only write songs about drugs and demeaning women. The members of Indus also put together a skit to inform people of the consequences of unsafe sex to show that parents and children should be able to discuss sex freely and comfortably.
Natasha Sidhu, UCSB third-year Political Science major and President of Indus, said that she hoped the show would appeal to not only Southern Asians but people of every nationality.
“A lot of families have the same issues,” said Sidhu. “We are just bringing the issues to light from our community, but they are true with everyone.”
But not everyone agreed that this approach was effective.
“I feel like this show excluded other races because it is only focusing on the Indian perspective,” said UCSB first-year Undeclared major Gursharan Bains.
While many of the non- South Asian audience members did admit to having similar problems of talking about these issues with their families, it is questionable whether or not the performances will help eliminate the communication barrier within families of all cultures. Other than bringing awareness of some of the topics avoided in Indian households, no possible solutions were proposed to improve communication within families.
On the brighter side, the audience was pleased by most of the performances despite the obvious technical difficulties. The Polynesian Dance crew impressed the audience with the women’s hip swinging and the men’s amusing chest-pounding and loud chants. Even though the lights awkwardly flashed a couple times during their performance, their presentation of Polynesian traditional dancing was very entertaining to watch.
The show became even more exciting when audience members were picked to come up to the stage and learn some dance moves.
The Hindi Film Dance team, Mastani, also performed their Bollywood-style of dance for the audience. The catchy music and interesting dance moves were fascinating to watch.
The dancing was, of course, complemented by some singing.
Singers Sneha Tatapudy and Kiran Kanekal delighted the audience in popular Indian songs.The audience swayed and clapped and snapped and cheered for the singers despite the fact that they were not provided with microphones.
Tatapudy and Kanekal introduced Ravaani, the first South Asian acapella team that started this year.
“I like the social aspect of Ravaani because we all get to input our opinions in the group. As the first acapella group, we got to choose the name and the direction we want to go in. It’s also a fun way to pursue my musical passion by fusing Bollywood and American music,” said Adivi Trivedi, UCSB first-year biology major and member of Ravaani.
Even though the program was disorganized, Too Hot still gave the audience a taste of South Asian culture in an entertaining way. While the show was filled with great performances, the purpose to simply raise awareness was not enough. What’s the point of telling people about a problem if you don’t encourage action?