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date: 18 November 2019

Bhangra in the United Stateslocked

  • Melissa Hok Cee Wong

Extract

A contemporary music and dance form of the South Asian diaspora combining acoustic elements of the Punjabi folk genre of the same name with electronic elements of Western popular music. Traditional bhangra—a vibrant, celebratory style associated with the Vaisakhi harvest and solar new year festival celebrated by Punjabi Sikh farmers each spring—features vigorous male dancing accompanied by prominent, distinctive rhythms on the dhol drum, and sung verses with joyful lyrics. In the mid-1960s, amateur bhangra bands began to proliferate among Punjabi immigrant communities in the United Kingdom, performing at cultural, family, and religious functions. However, bhangra did not gain traction with British South Asian youth until the 1984 album Teri Chunni de Sitare by Southall, London-based group Alaap, which fused traditional Punjabi rhythms, melodies, and instruments with Western technologies such as drum machines and synthesizers. This innovation pioneered a new style of bhangra, sometimes called “bhangra beat” or “Southall beat.”...

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