Tables decked with glowing green centerpieces, guests dressed to impress and a red carpet transformed the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom into a swanky dance venue and lounge Friday evening for the Bhangra Blowout Red Carpet Event.
The festivities served as a kick-off to the Bhangra Blowout series, which leads up to the annual Bhangra dance competition in April – the country’s oldest Indian dance competition. Eight colleges from across the nation will face off in the sixteenth annual dance battle. The GW South Asian Society and GW Ahimsa, an organization that promotes peace and non-violence through Hinduism, co-sponsored the event.
The décor created a nightclub vibe, but with Bhangra beats bumping and hookah flowing.
Bhangra is characterized by its high energy dancing and heavy drum beats. Dancers are in a constant bounce with hand and foot movements that correspond to the lively music.
Dance and music served as the keystone for highlighting South Asian culture.
“The whole point is to expose ourselves to the community. We want people who have never experienced something like this to come out and have fun,” said sophomore Madiha Malik, co-director of the event. “A lot of people think that South East Asia is just India, but I’m Pakistani and many South Asian people don’t even realize that Pakistan is a part of the area. We really want everyone to be a part of it and hopefully learn something new.”
Many guests said they had never come out to a South Asian event before.
“I came because I wanted to learn how to Bhangra,” said Andrea Keating, a freshman. “I just really love the music and everything so I really want to know how to do it myself. It’s just looks like a lot of fun.”
The event drew guests from Virginia and Maryland in addition to D.C.
“This is the most diverse crowd we’ve ever had. We’ve had students from all different backgrounds, but also people from the community. Professionals, high school students and other college students made the trip here for the event so it’s great that we’ve been able to get out name out there,” said Anita Singh, a senior on the South Asian Society executive board.
Even as most of the girls opted to trade their heels by the end of the night, the crowd was still dancing along the South Asian hip-hop fusion beats and laughing with friends.
“When you come out to events like this you just get to see what other cultures do. The dancing is really cool and I’ve even gotten to know a few things about the culture just from talking to people, so it’s just great to be able to do that and have a good time,” said junior Raeann Halenda.
The Bhangra Blowout dance competition is scheduled for April 11 at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall. GW has won the competition three times before and the Bhangra team will perform as an exhibition act this year.