The South Asian Society sponsored a weekend of festivities for the 12th annual Bhangra Blowout competition.
The competition, which features a dance style that originated in a region of northwest India called Punjab, is one of the largest of its kind in the country.
The event attracted nine teams and nearly 4,000 spectators to the competition at D.A.R. Constitution Hall. Other Bhangra events that took place over the weekend included a semi-formal dinner Friday and a block party Saturday afternoon to gear up for the competition.
There was also an after-party at the Old Post Office Pavilion. At 3 a.m. Sunday, a 20-year-old New Jersey man died in a stabbing outside the pavilion; two others were also injured in the fight, which took place toward the end of the party (see “Stabbing mars Bhangra party”, p. 1).
This was the first year that GW’s Bhangra team did not compete. New York University won the $4,000 first prize.
“It’s different this year because GW isn’t competing and so it changes things,” said senior Sapna Patel, who has attended the event four years in a row. “Now, it really makes it clear that GW is good, they compete at other schools, but that this competition is not about winning. It’s about the Bhangra itself.”
Gunjan Shah, who was in charge of Bhangra Blowout two years ago, said GW did not compete because of a “home court bias.” GW did not place in the competition last year, but won second place the year before.
This year’s competition was also different because the South Asian Society hired professional comedian Russel Peters to host the show to set Bhangra Blowout apart from other intercollegiate Bhangra dance competitions.
“For this year we were trying to find something original, something unique,” said Samantha Panda, the organization’s public relations chair. “We needed to find an edge.”
Bhangra has gained widespread popularity as it has been fused with reggae, techno, house and hip-hop rhythms.
“I love coming because I love the energy in it,” said sophomore Sarah Sing. “It’s a lot of fun to see.”
-Michael Barnett and Caitlin Carroll contributed to this report.