The interest in Bhangra dancing amongst the British Asian public has grown exponentially over the past few years, with classes popping up, left, right and centre. Bhangra competitions have also seen an increase, giving University and community teams the opportunity to showcase their talents and moves, which is an amazing thing to witness, as it shows people are actively taking an interest in their roots. These competitions, all however, have one thing in common – teams perform to a backing mix.
Some would say, having a backing mix can showcase a variety of more contemporary and daring moves – which, to an extent, is true. But, isn’t that going away from what traditional Panjabi Folk Bhangra dancing is all about? Our ancestors never had a backing track when they were dancing away in their villages. The core requirements for a traditional Bhangra performance is, the team to be accompanied with a live singer, dholi, algojey player and other musicians, should the team choose to include them. Up until 4 years ago, the UK didn’t have a platform where teams could perform a traditional Bhangra set. This is where Folk-Stars steps in.
For those that don’t know, Folk-Stars is the UK’s first live, yes LIVE, Bhangra competition, whereby teams who compete, are mandated to not use a backing mix – something that the rest of the Bhangra competitions held in the UK, allow teams to use.
Folk-Stars returned on Saturday 19th November 2016 for its third competition. For the first time, the competition was held in London, having previously been held in the home of UK Bhangra, Birmingham. Hosted by Harwinder Singh Mander, of Naujawani.com, he effortlessly kept the audience engaged throughout the night.
On the night, the following teams competed against each other for a chance to be crowned the best UK Live Bhangra Team:
- Vasda Punjab (@Vasda_Punjab_)
- Lok Nach Bhangra (@LNBhangra)
- Bhangra Punjabian Da (@bpdevents)
- Lishkareh Punjab Deh (@lpdbhangra)
- Nachda Sansaar Bhangra Club (@nachdasansaar)
- Jashan Jawani Da (Instagram – @jashanjawanida)
After a night of battling against each other, pulling out all the stops to impress the judges, Vasda Punjab were crowned the Best UK Live Bhangra team, with Nachda Sansaar Bhangra Club and Bhangra Punjabian Da snapping up second and third place, respectively. Performances are being made available to view on the Official Folk-Stars Youtube channel over the Christmas period.
The audience had a chance to vote for their favourite team on the night. Everyone in the venue was given a code to log on a vote for who they thought was the best team on the night. After a short 5 minute window of voting, the audience voted for Lok Nach Bhangra to receive the ‘People’s Choice Award’. This was a brilliant move to keep the audience engaged.
An opportunity to win the ‘Heerey Panjab De’ (Diamonds of Panjab) canvas illustration, by Artful Sketcha, was also up for grabs on the night. The canvas was an absolute masterpiece. All people had to do was to take a selfie and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag, #FolkStars2016. Another small, but effective touch, which added to an already amazing night.
Vasda Punjab Giddha
As well as the official competition, the audience were also treated to an exhibition performance by Vasda Punjab Giddha Dancers before the interval break, giving us a glimpse of what’s in store for the future of Folk-Stars. A deviation from the norm in the UK, but this performance could potentially spark up an interest for girls to take up Giddha dancing. Folk-Stars Giddha is set to launch in 2017. Folk-Stars will inform everyone when that happens.
If the Giddha performance wasn’t enough, the audience were subject to witnessing an exclusive live performance by the singer behind the most successful Panjabi album of all time, ‘One Time 4 Ya Mind’. Ashok Prince delivered a powerful live set performing classics by the late Kuldip Manak and Surjit Bindrakhia, as well as tracks from his latest album. It is rare to hear singers sound exactly the same, live, as they do on the tape. This guy is something else. His voice fully encompasses what Folk-Stars is all about – raw, traditional and desi! We didn’t want his performance to end!
Simon Berik, more widely known as DJ Frenzy, and his team, fully deserve to be commended for their efforts in delivering an authentic Bhangra competition to the public. It takes guts to buck the trend and stay true to yourself.
It’s a shame competitions like Folk-Stars don’t get the attention they deserve, given the effort required by all parties to deliver. The teams deserve a massive well done for all taking the leap in performing a traditional set, and hopefully this will open the eyes of other teams to go down the traditional route.
Follow Folk-Stars on all social media platforms for updates on what’s in store for the future of Live Bhangra dancing in the UK.
Facebook – @FolkStarsPage
Twitter – @FolkStarsUK
Youtube – @FolkStarsUK
Instagram – @fstarsuk