Learning techno parco dance was a self learning process. I started by watching clips on YouTube and video clips. Also we have two rappers as well. Also through watching American movies like “Step Up 1” “Step Up 2” “Step Up 3.” The name of our group is “Face Off.” We perform in festivals, TV programs.
Most of the people are simply believing that techno parco is senseless moves, and to some extent, western moves. People believe that this is a branch of gymnastic and acrobatic sport. So people accept us as a sport rather than a dance style. In the beginning people see the dance style as a western dance style. But we explain people that this is not a western dance style. It has its own style, its own moves, and its own performance. So we are trying to encourage and make an understanding among public that this is sport not dance style. So if people see that this is dance style approaching from the west, this will be problematic. Afghan dancing - It’s a phenomenon socially acceptable among Afghans. When I was performing dance in wedding parties, all of my relations, friends, just random people, everyone just recognized me as dancer, just Iranian dance. But after we started doing techno and parco, people started thinking okay, Afghan dancing we do to Afghan music, Iranian music we dance Iranian style. So, this new dance style, that no one knows, this must be American or Western dance style with different music. This is peoples’ perception.
In west Kabul people, particularly younger generation, are welcoming them more than other places of Kabul. And I think it comes because of ethnic conflict in Afghanistan. So particularly Hazaras are settled in west Kabul and are not ethnically or culturally in other parts of Kabul. ISAF provides a lot of economic support to my family. Those who are not considered close relatives, one said, “your son is performing before public and on TV, but being paid.” So being paid for dancing has a negative understanding in our culture. It’s like a taboo. Because it’s like bacha bazi. Once we were trying to practice techno parco in a public place and we wanted to make a short documentary on the streets, some, a couple of police cars approached us and arrested them for a while. They took our camera and claimed that we were doing something against the law. Our abilities and our performances have been used by international and national organizations.
So now if US Embassy, or USAID, or any other international organization sponsors, there will be no problem continuing the performance. If the government then shows up, we will then have to refer to the international organization. There’s been a growth in being welcomed by the public. Yeah, since we start performing in public, the public is more understanding more of the mix of dance and sport. So we are trying to emphasize the sport part more than the dance part. That is why we are more welcomed.
I think that its possible to change young peoples’ mentalities especially in Herat and Mazar. But what about like Kandahar and Helmand and other provinces, it seems impossible. In Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, people have more access to communicate with people around the world, to have… we have access to information so we are more open-minded than people in Helmand or Kandahar. Since Herat, parts of Mazar-i-Sharif, Bamiyan, we have access to internet, we are much safer than Kandahar and Helmand, so schools are open. Channel 1, Tolo TV, and Korshid feature our group publically on TV. The most watched TV station is Tolo, second is Channel 1, third is another one, and maybe Korshid which is a newly established one, might be at the end of the list.
It’s interesting in our culture, we have a culture of honor and dishonor. The word you are using for “dancer,” which is very… sometimes we use that word, but sometimes we use the second word. It’s an ironic word that means dancing but it also means playing. The second word literally means “player,” but it also indicates dancing as well. Performances. Based on my experiences after four years, that doing techno or performing parco is just like moving your body in senseless ways. I have been teased even by friends. In order to not be identified before the public, we use masks, face-masks when we are performing. They mock me by calling me "bazingar." There has been no change in terms of understanding that this is not something like senseless moves, but that these are technical moves. This is a combination of dance and sport. My friends have obtained self-confidence though, better than four years ago.
We will never stop performing techno and we want to develop it.