By Sonya Rehman
Well-known dance brand, Ministry of Sound kick-started its 2012 world tour with Lahore, Pakistan as its first destination on the 18th of February. The renowned Dutch DJ and Record Producer, Sander Kleinenberg, was set to spin his magic in the city thanks to ‘Full Circle Corporate Marketing (FCCM)’, a local event management company, who (miraculously) managed to swing getting Kleinenberg to perform in the country.
Held at a farm in Head Baloki, on Multan Road, far away from the city, the night sky was clear, glittering with stars like tiny white glow sticks.
The drive out to the destination was thrilling, albeit, harrowing (given the distance and the traffic to boot). Our landmark was a massive plastic dinosaur (that we drove past twice!) of sorts – situated on the main road – advertising a ‘wild park.’
Yet given our challenging little road trip, once on location, it felt trippy being smack in the middle of nowhere, on lush green lawns with a gorgeous, sprawling estate (contemporary yet rustic in design) and a swimming pool right before us. Set-up on the lawn, across the estate, the tight little enclosure reverberated with electronic music.
This was Lahore – music, dancing and scores of Pakistanis having a right royal good time. The evening was invigorating, surreal, and above all, fun.
“I never gave it any thought,” Kleinenberg stated in an email to me regarding whether or not he felt apprehensive about performing in Pakistan. I’d gotten in touch with the DJ soon after he’d left Lahore to globe-trot and perform elsewhere around the world.
“I mean for sure Pakistan is in the news, but if you have to think about those risks all the time life would be pretty boring. DJ-ing has brought me all over the world and the privilege of entertaining people outweighs the potential risk,” he stated, adding, “And anyway, I’ve read recently that most people die of small accidents in their home. How Ironic.”
Kleinenberg stated that he was “honoured to entertain some of Pakistan’s youth,” given that the country is “caught in the middle of some heavy tensions – keeping your head cool when you’re stuck between US interest, Indian interest and your religion – hi-jacked by extremists – must be a tough job at times.”
Open to performing in the country again, the prominent DJ stated that the organizers “took great care of me; I stepped out of the car a few times to join the locals in their activities. [It] seemed peaceful and relaxed.”
And regarding music bringing people of different cultures together? “It’s proven to be doing just that,” Kleinenberg agrees, “Especially when the music has no political meaning, religious, colour or prejudice about status. It does unify.”
The arts in any country are instrumental in highlighting facets of the societies and the people that it represents, in addition to the fissures within – the graver problems that disrupt everyday life.
From theater to fashion, from music to fine art, from stand-up comedy to dance, from poetry and literature to film – art takes upon a life of its own; retaliating against systems, against dogmas, against injustices and against societal claustrophobia – breeding colour, freedom, inspiration, dreams, thought and action.
And this is exactly what seems to be happening within Pakistan – art, culture and entertainment has begun to re-establish its fractured foothold in the country.
From fashion weeks galore, literature festivals, concerts and gigs, TEDx events, performances by international artistes at events, book launches, art exhibitions, theatre productions, local and international artist collaborations, local artists venturing into Hollywood and Bollywood, and the revival of local cinema – art and culture in Pakistan seems active once again, unflinching, and determined.
On Twitter, soon after Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy took home Pakistan’s first Oscar – for her documentary, ‘Saving Face’ – this year, popular culture critic and writer, Nadeem Farooq Paracha, tweeted: “The pride of Pakistan is in their artistes and intellectuals. Not in bombs and bans!”
Sunday Magazine (Daily Times)