Spring is here and with it the arrival of the City of Bhangra Festival, a 10-day all-out dance party and music-fest showcasing the music and dance of the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan. The 11th annual festival, which takes place May 28-June 6, features hundreds of local and international artists in a series of dynamic performances that take place on indoor and outdoor stages, in parks, in clubs, and in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
This year’s theme is Bhangra Love, and embraces the idea of love crossing all boundaries – social, cultural, sexual, religious, geographical—to unite (even ignite) the hearts and minds of diverse audiences through the vibrancy of bhangra music, dance, art, poetry, and song. The nature of bhangra—from its roots to its contemporary expression in Vancouver and around the world – has always supported connectivity across and between individuals and communities, space and time, genders and cultures.
The festival is driven by artistic innovation, creating inclusive spaces and strong community bonds.
Bhangra is a style of folk dance and rhythm from the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan. Over the years, bhangra has fused a variety folk dances and includes a spectrum of musical beats. During the 1970s and 1980s, the dhol drum driven music became a phenomenon as the bhangra band movement was born in the United Kingdom.
Young Punjabi labourers in small rural towns performed their interpretation of Bhangra as a way to cut through racial tensions and connect with their communities. In the Punjabi and larger South Asian diaspora, bhangra is used by new generations of dancers and musicians to continue to find new ways of expressing themselves, crafting their identities and connecting with their cultural heritage.