(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Dance bars are set to reopen in Maharashtra, with India’s Supreme Court rejecting a state government ban in 2005 that forced the popular nightspots to close.

At the time, I was a crime reporter with an English daily in the city of Pune and visited a couple of bars operating alongside the highway to Mumbai.

These dance bars would often be run in seedy and dark air-conditioned halls. Up to 100 customers at a time would sit at tables positioned around the dance floor, where girls in their twenties would gyrate to blaring Bollywood music under flickering disco lights. The smell of liquor and cigarette smoke would linger in the air as the clients would ogle the girls, who typically would wear gaudy free-flowing skirts with blouses.

These bars were popular with locals who made millions of rupees selling farmland to industries and were awash with new-found wealth.

During my visits, I spoke to dancers and bar owners. The dancers mostly came from poor and unschooled families, although some of the girls were educated and studied in colleges in and around Pune. Some said they took up dancing to help their parents and finance the education of their siblings.