Sufi music, transnational dance collaborations and bhangra in the park: sounds like Vancouver’s annual City of Bhangra Festival.
Presented by Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society (VIBC), the 10th annual City of Bhangra Festival runs from May 29 to June 7 in Vancouver and Surrey. Expect music and dance inspired by Punjabi cultures from India and Pakistan, plus transcendental Sufi concerts, bhangra kids dancing at the art gallery, and intercultural dance mashups.
Some Jugni Style trivia: Co-founders Joti Dhesi and Manjot Bains met back in 2005 when both were directors with the VIBC board. They left the not-for-profit society in 2008 to move onto new projects, but the annual City of Bhangra Festival, which they helped vision and create, still holds a special place in their hearts.
Herewith, our top 3 picks for the 2014 City of Bhangra Festival. Get ready for some #BhangraLove.
1. Bhangra on Main with Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch. One of our favourite Pakistani singers, Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch (QB) will play a live acoustic session with her band at the newly renovated Fox Cabaret. It’s Coke Studio Pakistan comes to Vancouver. Tuesday, June 3 at 8:00 p.m. | Fox Cabaret, 2321 Main Street | Tickets
2. Ekta featuring Saieen Zahoor. Prepare to be transported to another place and time. Sufi mystic Saieen Zahoor will sing Urdu poems set to his single-stringed instrument, the ektara. Seen on Coke Studio Pakistan, in West is West, and nominated for the BBC World Music Awards, a performance by Zahoor is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences not to miss. Local Indo-Pakistan pop band naQsh will open the show. Saturday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m. | Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville Street | Tickets
3. Downtown Bhangra: This free, 2-day outdoor concert is where all the fun and dancing takes place, just outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Our pick is for Friday night, when QB and naQsh will perform, but the daytime lineup for Saturday looks like a great post-brunch family activity with kids. Friday, June 6 from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. and Saturday, June 7 from 12:00 – 10:00 p.m. | Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza (facing West Georgia Street) | FREE