Big, bold, and brilliant. Three words to perfectly describe the City of Bhangra Festival’s final event, Downtown Bhangra—a two-day, all-out bhangra extravaganza held on the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza. The event drew thousands of people and brought culture and magic to the throbbing heart of the city; from opening to end, the plaza was packed with people bobbing their heads and dancing under the Vancouver sun.
Featured performers were diverse and eclectic. From Balkan Bhangra to Bhangra Empire, performance teams from all over North America busted out their best dance moves, each team revealing what bhangra means to them. From folk dance to fusion and contemporary, the entire spectrum of bhangra was represented on the COB stage. Saturday’s headliners, international superstars Jay Status and DJ Sanj, closed the show with a spectacular Bollywood performance that had the crowd on its feet until the stars came out.
It was amazing to see the streets of Vancouver become electrified with the magic of bhangra. It is a rare yet exciting thing to experience, a city coming together and coming alive. To take pause for a moment from the frenzied rush of daily life to ponder, enjoy, think, and connect. To break down barriers and share moments of inspiration.
Downtown Bhangra brought the City of Bhangra Festival 2014 to a close, and I was so glad to be a part of it. From learning about the cultural history, costumes, and music of bhangra, to seeing some amazing performers live, I feel I’ve grown immensely as a global citizen. I’ve been able to witness firsthand the excitement of bhangra and its power to dissolve categorical distinctions of culture, race, and age, so that in the end we are all moving in unison to the universal beat of the dhol. For this amazing and mind-opening experience I am so grateful.
If you missed out on the amazing events this year—don’t worry, the spirit of bhangra will continue, as we get ready for the City of Bhangra 2015!
Blog by Vanessa Power
Photo: Downtown Bhangra, June 7, 2014