In a Bhangra State of Mind

What: The opening of the world’s first visual arts exhibition inspired by Bhangra music and culture:  Five Rivers to Five Boroughs – Soho Road to the Punjab.

When: Friday, March 18th, 2011.

6-7pm – Panel discussion

7-9pm – Reception

9:00pm – After party with live performance from DCS Shin, DJ Rekha, Boy Chana, live dhol player and a free dance lesson. 9:00 pm

Where: 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10013 (Not in NY, not to worry – more Bhangra options at the end of this story.)

The details: Originally debuting in Birmingham, UK, Soho Road to the Punjab: Five Rivers to Five Boroughs is an exhibition that includes behind-the-scenes photography, album sleeves, promotional art and rare prints from South Asian media. This contemporary archive uncovers the worldwide Bhangra phenomenon, showcasing individuals who have championed the UK and USA Bhangra scene. Celebrating the opening of New York’s site-specific 6-week exhibit, the evening will feature a panel discussion, reception, and after party.

The lowdown: Bhangra is a style of music and dance that originates in Punjab, or the land of five rivers, a region divided by India and Pakistan. It began entering the UK music scene in the 1980’s. The impact of the music was tremendous for the South Asian Diaspora. Soho Road refers to the main shopping district for South Asians in Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK. Birmingham and the neighboring areas have the highest concentration of Bhangra producers outside of India and Pakistan. Music by 2nd and 3rd generation producers traveled across the pond, interacting with NYC to form its own unique experience and sound. Soho Road: Five Rivers to Five Boroughs traces this influential music across three continents.

Restyled from the ground up, the exhibit tells the story of how New York City has propelled the sound of Bhangra into the twenty first century. Brooklyn-based DJ Rekha, a musician and curator, named Ambassador of Bhangra by the New York Times, shares her personal collection of material for the New York version of this project.  She also headlines the launch party with Bhangra legend Shin, of DCS, a group that performed at Central Park Summerstage in 1996.

Prefer to peruse from the comfort of your armchair? You can check out the exhibition on Facebook.

And since we’re in a bhangra state of mind, if you happen to be in Los Angeles on March 17th, you can get your fix at the Conga Room’s Non Stop Bhangra party with Sandeep Kumar and Dhol Nation. They played to a sold out crowd last month with DJ Rekha and promise to throw another night of bhangra madness.

Time to start practicing your dance moves.

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