by Aaron Miles

Desi Summer Jam 2003

Sun Aug 17

Waterfront Park

Because everyone except Republicans, the recently deceased, and celibate people like to dance, music must constantly evolve. Many sonic and rhythmic evolutions that get the booties bouncing these days aren't coming from an urban producer or laptop dork, but from India.

The main export is Bhangra, named after bhang, or hemp, a dominant crop in the music's native Punjabi region of Northern India. It's rooted by a distinctive, deep, slippery drumbeat--traditionally played on a two-headed dhol drum--and usually has a monobeat pulse, making it super for the bumping rump. Other Indian dance invasions include the hybrid sounds of traditional Hindi and Bollywood musical elements mashed up with club hiphop or techno.

DJ Ras, from the local crew Badmaash Productions, calls their mash-ups "Hiphop and Hindi." Ras says it's all about the beat: "People don't necessarily know the language; they just want to dance. As long as the beat that they know is there, they'll go at it all night."

"DJs take Indian songs and remix them," says Badmaash promoter Jazz Sandhu, "and the Indian music community is taking a lot from American music. It becomes a really funky beat." The influences can be heard in American producers like Timbaland and the Neptunes and alternately in crossover Bhangra stars like Panjabi MC, Bally Sagoo and DJ Sanj.

As an after-party for traditional Indian Independence Day festivities, Badmaash's 18-and-over Desi Summer Jam is a good chance to check out these sounds. Sandhu says they want to fill a void created by a lack of Indian clubs in Portland: "There's a lot of young people looking for a party." he says. "Otherwise, they have to wait around for a wedding to happen."

While Badmaash parties are somewhat geared toward Portland's rapidly growing Indian communities, Sandhu is confident this music will find its way onto local radio and into more clubs: "People always want new, funky beats," he says, "and Bhangra is like the new funk."