Over 1,300 people attended Florida’s first-ever intercollegiate bhangra dance competition, South Beach Bhangra, hosted by UM’s Indian Students Association [ISA] over spring break. College teams from throughout the nation, including the University of California Berkeley and Cornell University, came to Miami to compete for $3,000 in prizes.
Bhangra is a traditional folk-dance from the state of Punjab in India, originally done during the harvest season to represent virility and energy. Marked by colorful costumes, stunts, upbeat music and the playing of the dohl, an Indian drum, the dances had the crowd cheering loudly and dancing in the aisles. At one point, a spectator even jumped on stage and joined the performers.
UM’s own team, Hurricane Bhangra, did not compete, and instead performed as an exhibition act. According to Tarun Subrahmanian, Hurricane Bhangra captain, the team didn’t compete in order to assert the validity of the competition. Since members of the team helped procure renowned judges, they wanted to allow no room for questioning the results of the competition. Hurricane Bhangra received a standing ovation, and ISA was pleased with the outcome of the competition.
“The event was definitely very successful,” Naveen Bellam, ISA president, said. “For us to have gotten teams from as far as New York and California is really a testament to the potential UM-ISA has on the national level.”
Bhangra competitions are popular all over the nation, yet until now, there was no representative competition for the Southeast. ISA expects to make South Beach Bhangra an annual event; they are hoping to reach attendance of over 5,000 people within the next couple years.
Anand Patel, ISA vice president, feels that ISA now has a national event to call its own. “We thought we would be lucky to have a couple hundred people attend,” Patel said. “To have such a good reception our first year was amazing. South Beach Bhangra definitely exceeded our expectations.”