Dance for health

It must be a quiet season for news as the Sydney Morning Herald has just got hold of Thailand’s coyote dancing crisis:

… Queen Sirikit intervened after a recent performance [by coyote girls] near a Buddhist temple on one of the religion’s holiest days. That prompted a crackdown that has turned Coyote Girls into a subject of national debate and official disapproval.

“Coyote Girls have to be in the right place, like an animal has to be in the zoo,” said Ladda Thungsupachai, director of the Culture Watch Centre, a division of the Culture Ministry, which wants to restrict the dancing to nightclubs and bars. …
The Culture Ministry launched a moral crusade, the latest effort to balance the country’s look-the-other-way tolerance with Buddhist values of modesty and manners. Coyote Girls are now banned from dancing in public places, particularly near Buddhist temples, and more measures are in the works. By and large, the dancers wear enough clothing to avoid being X-rated, and Parichart Niyomthai, a 24-year-old Coyote Girl, doesn’t see her job as a moral dilemma.

Slim, attractive Parichart, who also calls herself Natalie, is a university student by day, pursuing a double major in law and English with a minor in hotel management. On evenings and weekends, she slips into stilettos, hot pants and midriff-baring tops for a few hours of dancing that brings in a hefty 70,000 baht ($A2,500) a month. “I pay my tuition, my car and my room,” said Parichart, who has danced at auto shows and shopping centres to launch new products such as computer printers and coffee creamers and spends most nights dancing on the bar top at Forte, a Bangkok nightclub where most of the employees are female students. She agrees that Coyote Girls shouldn’t appear at Buddhist temples, but doesn’t support the wider crackdown. “Coyote dancing is not prostitution,” she said. “We don’t sell ourselves. And we make a lot of money.”

But Ladda fears the young women are making themselves vulnerable to sex crimes, and highlights an Education Ministry initiative to offer them more respectable jobs. In the meantime, the government wants to ensure that children are not exposed to the racy dancing, so the ministry called a meeting of managers of major shopping centres, department stores and the organisers of big events, such as auto shows. All agreed to stop employing Coyote dancers and assure that attractive women hired for promotional purposes are “properly dressed”, Ladda said.

But some say Thailand has more pressing matters for the government to address.

For an insight into coyote culture here is a brief clip from a festival held earlier this month in a district near Bangkok. Two interesting things – the festival was held in conjunction with Thailand’s fathers’ day (which is the king’s birthday) and it was sponsored by the Thai Health Promotion Fund (sor sor sor). Clearly there are some in public adminstration with more worldly views than the moral crusaders in the Culture Ministry. And for New Mandala readers contemplating resolutions for the New Year, the key message from the Thai Health Promotion Fund may be worth contemplating:
sor sor sorVigorous dancing in minimalist clothing designed to prevent over-heating is clearly a healthy alternative!

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