Monday, April 12, 2004

Dancing Between Cultures And Having a Great Time (

Bhangra Blowout in the Washington Post

I find myself constantly writing about this amazing event organized by the South Asian Students Association at the George Washington University, I guess because it is quite amazing. Anyway, the Washington Post has published an article on Blowout specifically, and a about South Asian-American culture generally. The article, written by post Columnist, desi, and SAJA president S. Mitra Kalita, is one of the better articles I have read on BB --so big up to her, and go read it now.

I really liked her lede: "Amid flashing strobe lights and the squealing of teenagers, South Asian college students from across the country tried to take back their culture this weekend."

The article then goes on to say,

"Thousands of college students arrived in the District this weekend to take part in George Washington University's 11th annual Bhangra Blowout, a dance competition and springtime rite for many who trace their roots to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries in South Asia. Revelers readily confess that they come just as much for the other festivities of the weekend, namely the parties at nightclubs throughout the city. In fact, event organizers liken Bhangra Blowout to Howard University's homecoming or Freaknik, a spring break for black college students in Atlanta."

This in fact is something that I have been saying to my friends for some time. Bhangra Blowout is slowly (if not already) is becoming the South Asian equivalent to Howard Homecoming. For as long as I can remember, especially after graduating college, BB has been a time for old friends and just other desi's to flock to DC and revel in our culture. When I say our culture, I am not referring to Indian, but this new hybrid that we have created, that does not just fuse parts of desi and parts of American, but that is truly something new, that of course has elements of both, but also elements that you would not typically find in South Asia or in middle America.

The one nitpick I would make with the article is the the writers use of two party promoters, who have no official relation to the competition, GWSAS, or BB, but who essentially are throwing parties around the event. GWSAS sponsors an official bash that has been held at the Old Post Office Pavilion that past few years and who have seen the likes of Funkmaster Flex, The Dhol Foundation, and Panjabi MC at the DJ/Music helm. Additionally these party promoters often have really crappy reputations within the desi community. Here is one comment I tend to disagree with that was used in the article.

Eight years ago, when Aziz Ahmed started to promote parties, club owners would tell him, "No Indian music." "Now it's part of a trend," said the George Washington alumnus. "I think it's cool when you walk into a club and they play Indian beats." His company, Enigma Entertainment, organized two parties before Bhangra Blowout and one after. As he stood outside Vida Lounge in Foggy Bottom just before midnight Saturday, Ahmed beamed at the long line of people waiting to get in. He guessed most of the people probably hadn't watched the competition.
"No one really cares about the show. They just come for the parties," he said."

From my previous post about BB show tickets being sold on Ebay, and also supported by the fact that the show has consistently sold out (ever since I can remember--my first BB was in 1997), I don't necessarily agree that "no one really cares about the show." In fact I find that claim to be unsubstantiated, and made in haste, especially because without the show, this whole thing would be a non-story, a non-event, and there would be no parties.


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