Dancing boys are termed ‘Naacho’ in Sindhi language, which means ‘dancer’. These dancing boys are an important part of every festival that takes place in Sindh.
There are five to 10 dancers or Naachos in every group. They travel all around Sindh to perform at dance festivals and collect money, which is showered on them by their admirers as a token of appreciation.
These tiny tents are used as tea shops in the day time and transform into a ‘boys bar’ in the evenings. Each tent is brightly lit with its own singer and a band of musicians. These dancing boys are aged between eight to 14 years.
Though most of these boys are happy with their profession, the fact remains that they are sold out by their own parents in their childhood. Naachos in Sindh have close resemblance to the ‘Bacha Baazi’ in Afghan, Pashtun and Tajik societies. Few historians link the Naachos with Afghan rulers of Sindh in the past centuries. Presently, these dancers are found in areas of Dadu, Larkana, Shikarpur and other areas of Sindh, where there is no fear of objection to public dance performance.
Group managers and the Naachos themselves revealed that the parents of each dancer are paid Rs.30,000 to Rs.50,000 in advance – Rs.4,000 - 6000 per month is fixed for each young boy. These boys are not professionally trained to dance but they continue to perform and attract a good number of visitors at each festival. Dancing boys have a very short performing-life.
They are only accepted as dancers by their admirers and managers until they reach an adult age. A number of Naachos learn to sing or use musical instruments, but majority of them are left with no option but to eventually work as male prostitutes. —Text and Photos By Nisar Khokhar