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How to Dinner Dance : A Guide to Shaking a Leg at a Lankan Function

How To Dinner Dance : A Guide to Lankan Weddings, Functions, and More

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A dinner dance is self explanatory. Unless you're not Sri Lankan, in which case it's okay to be ignorant, but we'll laugh at you anyway.




a glorious event, conducted to celebrate weddings, birthdays, Rotary/club/school alumni functions.

Comprises of a few close family members, friends, and exactly 873 random strangers who are 2 degrees of separation away from you. You are required to smile, dance vigorously, comment on how fat everyone's gotten, and then drunkenly stumble home.

Here's how it goes.

A chronological guide

9 WEEKS IN ADVANCE : Dinnerdance invite arrives. You ignore it, as it is addressed to your parents. If it's addressed to you, you're over the hill. Plus, your parents would have opened it beforehand anyway.


6 PM ON THE DAY : Since you have forgotten about the event, your mother comes and shouts at you to "put something on, yako! Try not to disgrace the family this time". You peruse the invite. Dinnerdance invite claims it starts at 7PM. You both chuckle at the thought of turning up on time like godayas. 


8 PM : Start getting ready, put some extra face powder if you're feeling frisky


9 PM : Rock up at the dinnerdance at a generic shiny hotel ballroom. If you've come in the nice family car, make a slow fuss about getting out and getting a valet just in case someone sees you. Smile benignly as you watch your father threaten the valet if he "finds a bloody scratch".  If you've taken a budget taxi nano, get out hundred metres away and walk. 


9:05 PM : Get stuck in a ginormous jam of people at the entrance trying to get their photos taken by a threadbare photographer. Inevitably, he will spell your name wrong for the Hi! magazine. Get stuck taking a photo in between your parents. 


9:10 PM : Get barreled around the hall while your parents ear sniff hundreds of random people who call you darling, putha, or a bungled version of your name and ask you what you're doing and why you're not married yet. Watch as your parents intervene and proceed to fabricate a much better version of your life involving a medical degree, a fat salary etc. Feel your jaw muscles strain as you struggle to maintain a toothy and slightly manic grin. Overhear people ask your parents if you're a bit simple. Fight the tears. 


10 PM : This is your active period. The Black Label starts diffusing in your parents' bloodstreams and they let go of their vice-like grip on your arm and lose interest in you. Seize this opportunity, and hit the open bar, the buffet, and the dessert table. Stick your finger in the icing of the cake that is yet to be cut, because you are a rebel. This is your revenge on society. 


11 PM : Black Label has run out, it is time for the age of arrack to dawn. The uncles start hitting the arrack, the aunties congregate in flocks to simper and judge anyone younger, prettier, or less powdery than they are. Smile at them ingratiatingly. As you walk away, you will hear one of the decrepit ones crow "chikay is that simple boy trying to put a move on me, good thing my darling Lalith didn't catch him". Meanwhile, darling Lalith is tottering near the childrens' table, trying to get one of them to dance with him. They scatter, screaming in fear from the flammable fumes emanating from this strange man.  


12 MIDNIGHT : The arrack is taking its toll. Feel your fingers tingle as your body is awash with an amber glow of goodwill and peace. The next time a wobbling uncle with a hanky on his head tries to grab your hand, allow yourself to be pulled into the baila frenzy.

Feel yourself twirl and shake, a veritable whirling dervish of the ages. Somehow find yourself dancing with a small child you've never met before. For a step-by-step guide, please refer Jehan R. 


3 AM : Your mother has finally had enough after a fellow aunty asks her if she hasn't seen her wear that sari before at a wedding. At this point your father has become one with the uncle collective, and his linguistic capabilities have markedly reduced to a series of "that bugger", "I tell you", "bloody bugger", and loud barks of laughter. 


3:40 AM : After an interminable number of goodbyes, during which your father has lost his shoe, your mother is frantically calling your AWOL driver, and you've promised to meet one uncle for a job prospect and another one to meet his daughter/son in town from THE ABROAD, you head home. 



3:50 AM : Get to bed, think about what a smashing job you've done, dwell fondly on those moves you busted out. Proceed to throw up on yourself. 

You are now a dinner dance veteran. Congratulations. 

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