Events Review: Bhangra Extravaganza!

1st & 3rd Image from: Brook Toor
The last two weekends have been so action packed with bhangra I haven't even had a chance to write about them!  Today I'm finally sitting down and writing the follow up to the Chhaiyya Chhaiyya post.  How did all the performances turn out anyway?  Splendidly!  Details below...

First stop, of course, was the Wednesday's performance at Darcy's family's Lohri party in Hayward.  The celebration was for the arrival of two new family members:  Mahi (totally cute and still very little- she wasn't so sure about all the noise) and Harjot (also totally adorable and big enough to be completely into the party).  Lohri is a popular Punjabi winter agricultural festival that historically has been an event that features women celebrating good fortune.

We gathered ourselves together and trekked to Hayward, totally excited to perform and not entirely sure what to expect.  We'd rehearsed and were ready to dance!  There was only one small hitch.  The five of us, me, Shab, Kamala, Mallika, and Andrea (pictured above) were going to perform in front of an entire roomful of Punjabis, who'd all been doing bhangra since they were born (and most of them probably since before they'd been born).  Exactly what did we think we had to show them?  As I stared at the sea of faces spread out before me, I had at least one clearly defined thought: "What in the world am I doing?"  And then the music started and we made our entrance and we were off.  Darcy sat in the front row, smiling and waving encouragement.  And because the front row was so close, we were happy that Jared was right there- we figured if we ended up crashing into anyone he'd be a good sport about it.  

The performance, despite two songs back to back, went well (that's a lot of choreography to keep straight!).  Then the women of the family got on the dance floor and completely put us to shame.  Traditionally there would be a bonfire during a Lohri celebration... the venue wasn't quite down with that, so the women danced with real flames (that's Darcy's mom pictured above).  I was thoroughly impressed! 

Above are pictured Jared, Gokul (Mallika's husband), and one of Darcy's uncles, who was so excited by our performance that he invited us to Punjab to dance at his birthday party.  Had I the money for a plane ticket I would be off in a heartbeat!   Dinner was served and we all headed outside so we could chat and eat (the music was more conducive to dancing than talking), plus it gave me the opportunity to watch the workings of the portable naan-maker (I believe it may be properly be referred to as a tandoor) set up in the parking lot.  After that we were stuffed, but as you can see at left the party was just getting underway.

Image from:  Fletcher Oakes
Happy with the warm reception given to us by Darcy's family, we headed off the next weekend for Dholrhythm's big cultural event of the year, the Marin JCC performance.   Three numbers (including the famous Chhaiyya Chhaiyya) was a bit for us to stare down, but we did a great job.  That's Mallika, Kamala, Andrea, Shab and I at left.  Our energy was good, our smiles were on, and we were having a great time.  Nav watched two numbers from upstairs before joining us for the third and had nothing but upbeat things to say.  A little positive reinforcement goes a long way when you're waiting in the wings about to go on stage.

Image from:  Odell Hussey
And, of course, the moment you've all been waiting for:  Chhaiyya Chhaiyya.  We were lined up in the wings to the left side of the stage, waiting to be introduced by Monica (which was our cue to enter).  The familiar butterflies in the stomach, the last minute rearranging to make sure we were going on in the right order.  And then we began.  And, right on cue, Shahrukh was there in my mind's eye, dancing his profane self on top of a train winding through the mountains and having the time of his life.  Do I remember much of the dance?  No. Looking out into the darkness, the stage lights on, the candles on the tables lit... I remember that.  And I remember smiling.  And I remember not being nervous anymore because I was having such a lovely time dancing.  That's happiness, really... dancing with your friends, to one of your favorite songs, and knowing that all the hard work and the hours of rehearsal boil down to one thing:  a brief moment in time where you get to share that joy with others.  Many thanks to Dholrhythms and of course many more to the Wednesdays (both pictured above) for the opportunity to share that moment.  And yes, we all had an ass-shaking good time.  

Link to video of the first Wednesday number at JCC Marin courtesy of Norman Bonney