Jai Hooooo! Bhangra Love Takes Over Creative Arts House


A keyboard synthesizer teasingly chimes a hook that closely resembles the Mission Impossible theme song. A dance beat, exotic and industrial, starts thumping and rolling across the dance floor. Two male voices lead in with a half-sung, half-rapped verse in Hindi. Then the Mission Impossible hook surges back in an ecstatically sung, “DHAN TE NAN!” The party goes nuts! Bhangra Love takes over!

Indian fusion music, such as the popular, “Dhan Te Nan Aaja Aaja,” ruled the dance floor of the Creative Arts House on Saturday night. Bhangra Love, a dance hosted by the South Asian Cultural Club (SACC), celebrates South Asian music and dance and immerses students in a different kind of dance floor vibe.

“We wanted to give people an experience of the music of our culture,” SACC member first-year Gaurav Ragtah said.

Bhangra is a traditional dance of the Punjab region of India. Over time, this traditional dance, known for its high-energy dance moves, has assimilated elements of hip-hop and contemporary dance. It is now closely associated with Indian fusion music, a form that merges the Indian music of local custom with modern popular music such as hip-hop and electronica. Bhangra in contemporary Indian dance club parlance has also come to mean a moment of freedom, when the old rules are broken and anything becomes possible.

On Saturday night, DJs Shabibi, Damien and Dibs, known outside of disc jockeying as seniors Safwan Shabab, Damien Vacherot and Dibyadeep Datta, brought a full soundtrack of Indian fusion music and American pop music to the table. They even played a few of their own remixes. Alongside fusion music, American hip-hop and popular songs created an inclusive atmosphere. The DJs seemed to take careful note in their song selection of exoticness that can be found even in the American radio standards. Sean Kingston’s Caribbean-flavored, “Fire Burning” blended in seamlessly with the rest of the playlist.

Bhangra Love also featured several party effects. It was a black-light party and students were encouraged to wear white t-shirts. The glow-in-the-dark effects added some zest to the festivities.

The crowd that showed up was certainly an inclusive one. Students from all over campus joined in at this well-attended event. For many, the distinctive dance and music of Bhangra Love offered a reprieve from the familiar and a chance to branch out toward something new.

The night marked the culmination of many efforts that was in some ways bittersweet. It was a successful continuation of what has become regular and much anticipated event on campus. Yet it also began the departure of the three senior DJs who, through hard work and a bold effort, founded the event on campus. They now find themselves in their last semester here at Colgate. SACC is hoping to schedule at least one more dance before the end of the semester.

The event was made possible by funding from the Budget Allocations Committee (BAC). Also contributing was the Theta Chi fraternity who provided tables and other support and Late Gate who provided black lights.

Bhangra dance, as already mentioned, represents freedom. The diversity celebrated by cultural dance like Bhangra Love meshes well with this idea of freedom. One could hear this in “Jai Ho,” an Oscar-winning, fusion-influenced song from the movie Slumdog Millionaire, played on Saturday night. “Jai Ho” translated means “victory is yours.” As the happy refrain of “jai hoooooo” rang out on the dance floor, the song’s message, “a vision of the whole world celebrating this victory,” and that of bhangra intermingled. It turns out that freedom is a cause for celebration and in that celebration lies a great victory.