As one of the most unique and diverse experiences in the Bay Area for 12 years running, Non Stop Bhangra is a night where people of various backgrounds and ethnicities can come together to celebrate, dance, and learn about Punjabi music culture. A typical night starts out with a dance lesson, followed by live Dohl and artist performances, and ends with DJs playing a mix of tunes ranging from Bhangra to reggae.
This week, the party celebrates with the theme of “Crash an Indian Wedding Party,” which gives you an opportunity to experience all the fun parts of an Indian wedding without the requisite wedding pressures. We got a chance to chat with founder and DJ Jimmy Love and resident DJs Rav-E and Nix about NSB’s evolution, memorable moments, and favorite Indian dishes. Non Stop Bhangra #124 takes place this Saturday, [7/16] at Public Works.
[jump] How has the party evolved in its twelve years?
Jimmy Love (JL): It has been a slow procession, and in many ways just became part of our crews lives. Many of our 20+ crew have been with it since the start, some leaving to have kids or move and than coming back. In the same way the crowds have grown at the same steady pace as we have grown venues. With crowd size we have been able to get bigger talent, and with our years doing this it has created bedrock for our sound in the Northern California. Most people come through via word of mouth, so we are just grateful we must be doing something right. We start off the night asking “how many are here for the first time” to be greeted to a full room of hands. I would say that people's openness to this cultures sound has really been what has evolved and we are just here making sure the vibe is right.
Rav-E (R): The most noticeable evolution of the party is that the number of attendees has substantially grown over the years. The first few NSB's were held at an art gallery prior to shifting to The Rickshaw Stop for a number of years. Now it is held at The Public Works, which is a larger and well-known nightlife venue in the city. However, although the event has substantially grown in attendance over the years, it has still retained its essence which is providing party goers a one of a kind experience that involves a dance lesson, dance performances, and an open outlet to let loose to some very authentic and diverse music.
Nix (N): The atmosphere and crowd have expanded. More people are interested in, and enjoying the Punjabi culture.
Have you ever thought of taking this party nationwide or even worldwide?
JL: At one point in time we traveled as a hybrid live group, which was a blast, but with the size of our group it was hard to manage along side the monthly event. We have been looking at starting a regular party in Both L.A. and in Arizona where we have residents living, however waiting on the right time to start it up. We have a venue ready to go in L.A. we just have to pull the trigger. We put a lot of ourselves into the night, so we feel much of the crew would have to be there to do it right. It makes it harder than just a collective of similar DJs’ playing a sound. Hoping soon we can take it to a few cities interested in what we have built in the Bay.
R: Yes! We briefly were on the road with a live set where we traveled to Southern California, the East Coast and Canada. Taking NSB nationwide and worldwide again would be a great idea. From our prior experience, I can honestly say that people are very receptive to Bhangra dance and music. I think people would enjoy experiencing a one of a kind night like this.
N: Of course! The world needs to hear our team live and would love to hit major cities around the world with our vibes.
For those that have never been, sum up the party vibe in one sentence.
JL: A truly unique San Francisco cultural experience, where even if you don't know the music the sounds are impossible to not dance your butt off.
Do you have any advice for people who are afraid to let loose on the dance floors?
JL: Come early for the dance lesson, and I would assume you would already be dancing before the lesson starts. The dance lesson is basically one big icebreaker as the entire room takes part so there is no way to look silly. Once people see it is just dancing to the infections beats you quickly realize no one is looking, just dancing.
R: Just go with the flow! The music is very infectious and there is no right way to dance at this event. It’s an open and carefree environment that is full of people from all walks of life, ethnicity and backgrounds.
N: No one is judging you here. Bhangra is a way to let loose. Feel the music and just have a good time.
What types of music are typically heard at the party?
JL: With a name like Non Stop Bhangra it is hard to steer away from Bhangra. Luckily, like most cultural sounds there are remixes ad well as Bhangra producers collaborating with people from different scenes. I would say there will be any mixture or songs dropped in from hip-hop, reggae, reggaeton, house, to some trap. Since we have the “Crash” theme this month I assume there will be some Bollywood in the mix to keep everyone happy.
R: Most of the music heard at this party is Bhangra. However, like other genres of music, Bhangra as continually changed and transformed while still retaining its essence as a form of Punjabi folk music. For this reason, you'll hear Bhangra that is influenced by hip-hop, reggae and EDM as well.
N: Traditional Bhangra music with a good mix of modern beats. With an occasional live Bhangra band to spice things up.
Please share with us your most memorable Non Stop Bhangra experience thus far.
JL: Through twelve years of doing this it is hard to pick one. I have two, which fight it out. Opening at Stern Grove, as they announced San Francisco's own to a loud cheer. Second, would be our 100th NSB where we got Panjabi MC in the house and the moment he dropped “Beware of The Boys” the crowd melted down.
R: It's really hard to pick one! I feel that every Non Stop Bhangra has something new to offer. However, my favorite has to be the first time we did the Bharaat Mob in the heart of the Mission District. Our Dhol drums, horns and dancing crowd attracted so many people and definitely woke up the neighborhood. Although no one knew what was going on, quite a number of people followed our procession of music and dancers back to The Public Works. It felt like we had our own parade going on!
N: Nonstop is always a memorable night. Can't beat the nights Ustad Lal Singh Bhatti is performing live Dhol and Bolivian for us.
With the changing SF nightlife scene leaning towards larger production parties, what do you think keeps a person coming back to this unique party?
JL: We have in our own way been a bigger production with 20+ people a part of the night since we started. We are the only steady Bhangra party in SF which allows us to serve as a intro to Indian music to both the people new to the Bay Area, while also creating a place to help the Punjabi scene grow and connect to the nightlife in the city. The group of people behind this are a family which we hope shows through with the love we put into keep this going. There will always be a thirst for culture, even as the city goes through changes. Even more, people are always after an experience.
R: Its such a unique experience and there is no other night like it in SF. Party goers get a full cultural experience. What other party gives you a dance lesson, choreographed performances and an open dance floor with such a diverse array of music?
N: The music and vibe is so unique already. We don't need a gimmick or big production to attract a crowd. People look forward to this event for months.
What are you looking forward to for this weekend's “Crash an Indian Wedding” theme?
JL: I always love the energy from the Baraat Mob which actually starts at 9pm up the street. We will have dancers, drummers and horn players in a procession through some of the streets of the Mission leading to the venue. The crowd that is really into this theme usually takes part in the wedding tradition, and the smiles and outfits jump-start the party.
R: I'm looking forward to all of the new faces that will attend Non Stop Bhangra for the first time. “Crash an Indian Wedding” has always been a busy night that is full of newcomers. Since we took May and June off, I'm anticipating a huge crowd as well.
N: Colorful outfits, henna, Indian food and great music. Come on, how often do you get a chance to crash an Indian wedding? It's one of the best experiences you can ever have.
Favorite Indian wedding dessert or dish?
JL: Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower) or Chicken Tikka dish, and Gulab Jamun for desert
R: Butter Chicken
N: Lamb Curry and Gulab Jamun!
What are some tracks you'll definitely be spinning?
JL: I am actually taking this month off from the decks as I deal with a neck and back injury. That said, I am more than happy with the talent I have on board to cover the night. All of the residents and our out of town guests have played many Indian weddings, so our crowd should be in good hands. I am sure there will be a little Bollywood thrown in to make everyone happy.
R: I'm definitely going to spin some of my upcoming unreleased tracks, along with some Punjabi wedding favorites such as “Veer Ji Viyohn” by Jassi Sidhu and other classics by Jazzy B, Malkit Singh and Sukshinder Shinda.
N: Definitely Patiala Peg, 5 Taara, and some Jazzy B.
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