Garba Takes Over downtown San Francisco

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Credit: Yerba Buena Gardens Festival/Jim Watkins Photography

MELA Arts Connect and Yerba Buena Gardens Festival hosted the first ever Garba360 event called Garba in the Gardens on May 19 in San Francisco, California.

Hundreds of people attended to bring this energetic and immersive Indian folk dance experience to new spaces and people.

“It was a bit surreal to see people from all walks of life listening, watching and participating in a dance form that I have been doing since I was young girl,” said Heena Patel, the creator of Garba360 and founder of MELA Arts Connect.

Credit: Yerba Buena Gardens Festival/Jim Watkins Photography

The event featured live music by the Bay Area’s KAMP Music, along with dance instruction and a dance performance by Pooja Mehta and Friends.

It was the first time that Gujarati arts have been a part of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in its 18 year history.

Each year, from May to October, the festival presents over 75 free performances in Yerba Buena Gardens.

“The festival’s mission is to share the cultural richness of San Francisco and the Bay Area. When we learnt about garba and what an important part of the cultural fabric of the Indian community it is, especially in the Bay Area, we knew it was something we wanted to bring to our festival,” said Lulu Lucero, Executive and Artistic Director of Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.

Credit: Yerba Buena Gardens Festival/Jim Watkins Photography

From families who happened upon the event to the men and women dressed in bright Indian outfits who came specifically to participate, the afternoon was a joyful mix of sights and sounds.

Those unfamiliar with garba, including the festival staff and volunteers, also learnt firsthand what a great workout garba can be.

Gatba360’s next stop is New York City on July 3 at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing and August 26 in Millenium Park as part of Chicago SummerDance.

Credit: Yerba Buena Gardens Festival/Jim Watkins Photography