Your Bhangra Education
Not a distant cousin of the bongo.
If you’ve never heard of this danceable music form, you wouldn’t be alone, but your group is becoming smaller and smaller. Bhangra is out of the basement, so to speak. Once you’ve sampled, if Bhangra doesn’t propel you out of your seat (or at least wiggle in your chair), possibly there is no hope for you.
Bhangra is a traditional Punjabi (i.e. Sikh, now part of Pakistan) folk music—lively, joyful, infectious. Primary instruments include the signature whiny string instrument called the iktar and the dhol (plural dhlolis) the double-end drum. Usually, but not always, singing accompanies the music. Although technically I have no idea, I just imagine that bhangra is about celebration (of love for example), not complaint. And what would bhangra be without the dancers? I know this is a traditional dance, centuries old, but sometimes, a line of bhangra dancers look downright silly with arms and legs all a kimbo.
Since 1990 Bhangra has been arguably the fastest growing music/dance form around the globe, due to cross-pollination with hip-hop and reggae—it’s amazing how well they all go together. If you really get into it, you’ll probably end up at one of the more or less annual dance competitions staged around the country (but mostly in California, as UC-Berkeley, LA and San Diego especially active).
Here’s an introductory sampling:
Snap – The Power of Bhangra
Bhangra fusion, Singapore backdrop, English & Punjabi rap, elephants, tea plantations. What can I say, it’s the ultimate!
Basement Bhangra DJ Rekha is the it girl.
Rajinder Singh Rai aka MC Punjabi