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Freestyle Dance in Ahmedabad With This City-Based Dance Crew

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Freestyle dance in Ahmedabad with this city-based dance crew

Paranoid Dance Crew is spreading the gospel of freestyle dancing by making it free for all.

It’s a Thursday evening. You are sitting in one of the cafes populating Ahmedabad and unwinding with your friends, when you notice a group of youngsters in oversized clothes (or cool clothes, depending on your age and taste), with a portable speaker. Soon they hook up their speakers and turn a 6-by-6 feet area in the cafe into their personal dance floor. They start popping, locking, breaking, twerking and moving in ways you can’t really define. If you have witnessed this or may witness this in the near future, know that it is not an organised dance performance but an impromptu dance cypher—the cool new entrant to the Ahmedabadi culture scene that’s gaining good traction.

A dance cypher in the urban dance context is a group of people—dancers as well as audiences—who have met in one place to form a circle and participate in the act of dance. It is based on the African and Mediterranean culture phenomenon of “call and response”. After the cypher is formed, the music gives impulses to the dancers to step into the middle. The first person to dance inspires the next one to perform their interpretation of the dance, and this might be reinterpreted by the next one who follows. The dancer’s “call” is meant to be “responded” to by the next person stepping into the middle. By stepping into the cypher, the dancer gets to communicate by playing with all the bystanders and participants through a vibrant spectacle.


Cyphers have been happening in pockets throughout the city since a few years, but they haven’t been consistent enough to catch on in the city. Since the last two years, however, Paranoid Dance Crew has been trying hard to change that by holding dance cyphers, both impromptu and planned ones, regularly.

Started as a college dance crew by Shreelakshmi Murlidharan while she was studying engineering in Nirma University, Paranoid Dance Crew didn’t get disbanded like most college crews. Instead, it became life’s calling for her and for some of her fellow crewmates. Over the last four years, the crew has seen changes in terms of its members and its dance style but one thing has remained constant—their love for dancing. Today, the crew has 7 core members, with each practising their own style, and they also boast of a studio on CG road called Misbehaving Beautifully where they practice their own art and also teach freestyle dancing.

For the crew, however, the studio is just a way to support their passion. This is visible from their tendency to conduct small casual cyphers every Thursday and also organise planned ones every month. These cyphers are open for all and anyone can step into them and bust a move. “Cyphers are our way to share what we feel while dancing, especially freestyling, with others. Freestyle dancing has changed who we are, each of us. And we just want to share that and also provide the space for others to do the same,” says Shreelakshmi. “We started these cyphers way before the studio, before everything else. We started them even before we truly knew what freestyling was. Everything else came later and probably because of them. Hence we have continued and plan to keep doing cyphers in the near future.”

The crew goes to a different place in the city every Thursday and starts the cypher wherever they find space. These cyphers aren’t planned or promoted on social media but they still attract enough attention and participation because of what they inherently are. “It’s a vibe thing. We hold cyphers because we want to dance and express and connect with others. People who watch us can feel it and join in. From little children to old ladies, we have seen everyone step into the circle and dance. It’s beautiful to share that,” says Abhijeet, an architecture student and member of the crew.


“We organise cyphers because we want to dance. It’s an excuse. And when other people join us, when the crowd is bigger, the energy of the cypher increases with everyone feeding off it,” claims Sahil, the house and experimental dance expert of the crew. Cyphers are organised by the crew once a month, usually at larger venues. These cyphers are planned, promoted and sometimes themed. But they are always open to all.

Since June 2017, when they organised their first cypher, the crew has seen a steady increase in the crowd these cyphers attract. “It doesn’t really matter if the number or people are increasing or decreasing. But they are increasing. And we love that. More people to dance with,” says Rohit, an engineering student and member of the crew. “I think the increase is also because of social media. We post videos. People post videos. So that helps spread the word,” he adds.

Follow Paranoid Dance Crew or Misbehaving Beautifully on social media to stay updated about their next cyphers. These young people and their cyphers might slowly be changing the Ahmedabad dance scene for the better.

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