About 3,700 people cheered Saturday night as GW’s dance team won first place in the sixth annual Bhangra Blowout intercollegiate dance competition in DAR Constitution Hall.
Bhangra is a traditional South Asian dance tracing its roots to Punjab – a region in India and Pakistan. It incorporates active movements with pronounced drumbeats.
“The purpose of Bhangra Blowout is to unify the South Asian community and promote the culture,” said Mital Desai, South Asian Society president. “The dance started very traditional, but the style has become more mainstream by mixing with Western music. A lot of people are really into it.”
“Bhangra Blowout is recognized as the largest South Asian student event in the country,” said Seema Patel, SAS executive Bhangra Blowout chair. The SAS-organized event draws students from across the country.
“In the South Asian community, Bhangra Blowout puts GW on the map,” Desai said.
Dance teams from 12 universities competed for a trophy and prize money. GW’s team donated its $1,000 prize to the Asian Women’s Self-Help Association, a local organization that fights domestic violence.
SAS invested last year’s proceeds in the University’s endowment to create a scholarship fund. This year, the scholarship was awarded to GW junior Darshana Lele.
Patel also said the amount of work the performers put in helped make the show a success.
“The performers worked really hard and they did a phenomenal job,” Patel said. “There was a lot of competition. All of the teams were absolutely amazing.”
“It was hours and hours of work and drilling over and over again,” said senior Kiranpreet Chawla, GW team co-captain. “You get mad at each other, but after you are on for those eight minutes, it seems worth it.”
Patel said the best moment came when she announced the GW team was the winner.
“It was a year’s worth of work coming down to an unbelievable night,” Patel said.
In six years, Bhangra Blowout has grown from a small event in J Street to a large production, moving to Constitution Hall last year. Tickets for this year’s competition sold out days before the event.
SAS donated an additional $1,000 to ASHA, and $25,000 to the University endowment fund for the SAS scholarship fund.
“(Bhangra Blowout) is a way to gather people from different universities and make a connection,” Desai said.