As I have mentioned before, Bhangra Empire is not the first bhangra team I have been a part of. Back in undergrad, I was captain of UC Irvine’s Rangla Punjab. This was my first taste of bhangra and what eventually got me hooked. That was all the way back in 2002 and 2003 (yes, I know, I’m old.) I came across the video from Bruin Bhangra 2003 and uploaded it to YouTube a little while back. The picture on the left is our intro from the performance. I know we’ve had some pretty awesome intros on Bhangra Empire, but to this day, this UCI intro is still my favorite. Maybe I should bring it back and put a little Bhangra Empire flavor in it. What do you guys think?
Now the frame itself was quite a pain to transport and put together. Those are pieces of solid wood constructed together, which made the frame extremely heavy. Our main prop-man from the time, Sachin Dewagan, took care of designing this. He had a pretty elaborate map and all. I’m sure Jigish Patel, our current prop-man, would get along great with him. If we put both of them together, I bet they could construct a space ship that could actually fly into space. Props were a huge part of our routines back at UCI and now have become a huge part of our routines in Bhangra Empire. Without further delay, here is our video from Bruin Bhangra 2003:
The video quality isn’t the greatest, but remember, this is from 2003. And yes, you can find me actually dancing in this video. I’m the tall one, if that helps. The competition itself was extremely memorable. It had a stacked lineup which included Boston Bhangra, VIBE, Khalsa Junction, Punjabi Soormay, DRP, People’s Bhangra, Columbia Bhangra, and many more. Surprisingly, the website is still up and can be found here. VIBE won first place, we won second, and Punjabi Soormay won third.
As for the routine itself, I thought it turned out pretty good. We were pretty clean, even for Empire’s standards, and had good energy throughout the performance. The routine was originally made for 6 couples, but due to a very unfortunate tragedy, we had to adjust it to 5 couples. I have no idea how we pulled off so many stunts in one routine. People on the team complain today if they have to do one stunt. This routine had like 5 stunt segments, and we still had tons of energy. I guess those are the advantages of being younger. Also, this was when the bhangra scene was predominantly collegiate. There was a different atmosphere in the audience at that time. (Check out my blog on The Bhangra Scene: Collegiate vs. Professional.) I’m proud to say that, nearly 10 years later, a team that a few friends started and put on the map, is still going strong. Though their style has changed to a little bit more on the traditional side, I will always support them. Well, that ends my trip down memory lane. Hope you didn’t fall asleep reading.