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Basement Bhangra closes show with 20th Anniversary celebration in New York

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The musical party run by DJ Rekha began in 1997

Basement Bhangra, which is touted as one of the longest continuing monthly New York nightlife party, has finally brought down the curtains, putting an end to twenty years of musical celebration.

The final “mic drop” of Basement Bhangra was held at SummerStage NYC in Central Park, Rumsey Playfield, on Sunday, August 6, marking the 20th anniversary of the musical extravaganza of desis, LGBTQ+ folks and people from all walks of life.

The final Basement Bhangra had Special Guest DJ Impact and Dhol Beat International performing for the audience in addition to the songs sung by DJ Rekha and DJ Petra Shilpa.

The musical party run by DJ Rekha since its humble beginning in 1997 had announced the final show earlier stating that “It’s (New York) a good place to stop, to know that that’s out there.”

For the last 20 years, Basement Bhangra has been offering a delightful experience to music lovers, mesmerizing them with a blend of hip hop and Punjabi music, giving an opportunity for the growing number of talented Indian American singers to express.

Basement Bhangra’s success was the result of its drivers taking into cognizance the growing interest among the migrant Indian community for Bhangra, music, and dance etc… Once the folk music got adapted to a totally new culture in the US, it became popular among the diaspora, resulting in the success of Basement.

Basement Bhangra had followers from all walks of life including writers, activists, artists, community organizers, teachers, and people in queer circles.

Vivek Bald, an MIT scholar and a DJ who collaborated with Basement Bhangra and its founder Rekha on a club night called Mutiny, said to WNYC that the rise of Basement Bhangra was the result of the influx of immigrants to the US from South Asia. When the children of the first South Asian immigrates turned the 20s and 30s, they started getting involved in music, film, activism and forming community-based organizations.

Rekha said to WNYC that “she is leaving on her own terms, and not because of rising rents. She intends to pursue other creative projects and further studies, and issued a parting endorsement for the city that embraced her and her work.”

“I think in New York City there’s an environment that breeds that kind of art. And that’s why in so many ways Basement Bhangra could only happen here,” she said. “It’s a good place to stop, to know that that’s out there.”