Fez, Holocene, etc.
As you may have observed, Portland is about the whitest city on the planet. Happening upon a party hosted by Andaz is like falling through a rabbit hole—revelers of all races and ages come together on the dancefloor, sweating to the infectious Indian beats of DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid, while outtakes from classic Bollywood films, spliced together by James Frank, encourage everyone to try freaky new dance moves. A Portland native, Anjali got her start behind the turntables seven years ago, spinning her favorite Brit pop, glam, and '60s French girl pop at house parties. She spent a year in New York, frequenting Desi parties (Desi is Hindi for "from the country") and buying all the Indian music she could get her hands on. Five years ago she hosted her first Andaz party, spinning Bollywood and Bhangra music alongside her partner, Stephen Strausbaugh (AKA the Incredible Kid). Since then the two have been fixtures on the dance circuit, appearing the last Saturday of every month at Fez Ballroom and at their Atlas night on the second Saturday of every month at Holocene. Occasionally you'll find them elsewhere—like maybe the Knitting Factory in NYC, where they had a residency for some time, or at Powell's Books, where both work a respectable two to four days a week.
Don't miss Bollywood Horror V, a Halloween costume contest and dance party at the Fez on October 27!
Did you grow up listening to Bhangra?
No. I grew up listening to Bollywood.
What's the difference?
A lot of Indians see Bhangra as being kind of drunken Punjabi music, whereas Bollywood's trying to be sophisticated and house-y. Bhangra is from Punjab, so the Punjabi speakers want to hear that. Hindi speakers want to hear Bollywood because Bollywood's sung in Hindi. Bollywood's kind of cheesy. Bhangra is a little darker, harder; its producers are more influenced by hiphop or grime or drum 'n' bass.
Are there greatest hits that everyone remembers from being a teenager, like Madonna or "99 Luftballoons"?
There's a singer named Alisha from Bombay. She did an album called Madonna Jabu—"jabu" means magic—and it's all Madonna covers in Hindi.
Are there any places to learn Indian dancing? I saw some hot moves that I'd love to appropriate.
Not really. Sometimes I give lessons at our night. Most of the Indian dancing classes offered in the Portland area are classical, like temple dancing.The dancing is so flirtatious. It seems to follow a script: innuendo, passion, rejection, and humiliation.
It's totally flirtatious. People act out the lyrics and everything. It's so different from Indian culture where you can't touch your partner, you can't kiss in public. But then these Hindi lyrics are almost raunchy!