Happy Birthday, Basement Bhangra!
Last week marked the 15th Anniversary of DJ Rekha's brainchild Basement Bhangra, the monthly bhangra/hip-hop party held at SOB's (Sounds of Brazil) in New York City. From outside the club, I could hear the live dholi's playing thumping on the drum, accompanying subwoofers pounding on the walls to the sidewalk entrance. I was getting too antsy, hoping not to miss one beat, until finally the doors opened to me; a wall of warm, dancing bodies greeted me with turbans bouncing up and down and a posse of desi showstoppers on stage conducting an evening of dance, celebration, and madness! DJ Rekha had a massive setup centerstage with camera crews recording the set live and artfully projecting it on the back screen - even though I arrived at around midnight, missing the earlier dance class held by Dhoonya Dance around 8pm (also offered monthly at each Basement Bhangra party), the party was still just getting started. I made my way through the crowd, hoping to get a good look at Dhol Nation, the brother-sister dhol drumming duo that took the party to a whole other level; their drumming was incredible and they definitely added the authentic sound to the evening of traditional songs mixed with hip-hop flavors.
Lilly Singh aka "Superwoman", known for her viral Desi videos on YouTube, was the spunky, young MC/hype girl who kept the party going while DJ Rekha herself kept the songs coming - at one point Rekha announced that good friend and bhangra/hip-hop DJ icon Panjabi MC, sent her an exclusive track to play for the party's birthday celebration. The crowd went ballistic at just the mention of his name, and when DJ Rekha dropped the track, there wasn't a still body in the room.
Happy birthday, Basement Bhangra, and to many more years of celebrating with you!
THE BARE FEET™ FIVE: 1. Party on! The Basement Bhangra parties are held the first Thursday of every month, with som extra parties/events thrown in during the summer months at SOB's (Sounds of Brazil). Remember to arrive early for the free dance lessons and the discounted entrance fee! (SOB's, 204 Varick Street at West Houston, NYC) 2. DJ Rekha's Music: DJ Rekha has put out some great mixes, including a Basement Bhangra album, available on Amazon.com! And she was just featured on ABC's Nightline News, check it out! 3. Bhangra dance classes: There are some great ways to learn bhangra dance - Sarina Jain's Masala Bhangra Workout® is an international fitness program based on bhangra and Bollywood dance offered worldwide, Dhoonya Dance offers similar bhangra/Bollywood dance classes in NYC and Washington DC, and Pooja Narang's Bollywood Axion offers traditional bhangra classes in NYC. 4. Go see some Bhangra: Bollywood Axion is holding their annual dance showcase on Saturday, April 14th, 2012. Be sure to catch traditional bhangra dance along with some glitzy Bollywood numbers! For tickets and more information, click here! 5. More music! Other well-known bhangra and hip-hop mashup DJs include frontrunner Panjabi MC and Scottish duo TigerStyle, both my favorites!