DJ Rekha brings Basement Bhangra back to Central Park

DJ Rekha ne Rekha Malhotra. Photo Facebook @DJRekha, selfie March 24, 2021

For New Yorkers and others who have grown up with and enjoyed DJ Rekha’s thumping beats, its hard to imaging 25 years have passed since she introduced Basement Bhangra to the city, making it a mainstream phenomenon.

With a glitch forced by the pandemic, DJ Rekha, Rekha Malhotra, has persisted, calling the COVID-19 break “a challenging few years.”

According to this intrepid musician, “… the need for us to dance together is greater than ever,” in a July 24 announcement.

Since the last Basement Bhangra at Central Park SummerStage in 2017,  DJ Rekha got a Masters’s Degree from MIT in Comparative Media Studies, helped Spotify launch in India, and continued to DJ in the UK, Sweden, Taos, LA, Vancouver, Boston, and for 4 months every Sunday during the early days of Pandemic from her apartment virtually in Queens, NY.

She is back with a bang holding the the event, “Basement Bhangra: The Encore,” on Sat Aug 6th, 2 pm.

“One of my greatest artistic joys is curating and spinning on a stage that’s been so important to me- NYC’s Central Park SummerStage,” at Rumsey Playfield, DJ Rekha said.

Among the groups that will be featured are Jasmine Sandlas, Raaginder, Red Baraat, Ganavya, Daid Sharma, Sikh Knowledge, Zeemuffin, DJ Ushka, and Rajuju.

The event encourages all ages and families to come for the free event featuring an iconic South Asian lineup to celebrate the 25th birthday of Basement Bhangra.
Malhotra, pioneered the merging of Bhangra and Bollywood sounds with contemporary electronic dance music, her biography on the eponymous website notes.

DJ Rekha with Priyanka Chopra. Photo: Facebook @DJRekha December 25, 2013

The global sounds in this DJ’s spinning discs are rooted in hip-hop and dub and ranges from Brazilian Baile Funk to Balkan Beats and everything in between.

She launched Basement Bhangra in 1997 at SOB’s on Varick Street, till 2017, making it one of the Big Apple’s longest-running club nights.

Their debut album “DJ Rekha presents Basement Bhangra” (featuring a track with Wyclef Jean) won critical acclaim and was nominated for best DJ album by the 2008 Plug Awards.

Named “Ambassador of Bhangra,” by the New York Times, DJ Rekha is not just the founder of Basement Bhangra, but also Bollywood Disco, and co-founder of Mutiny Club nights.

DJ Rekha was the sound designer for the TONY award‐winning Broadway Show, “Bridge and Tunnel,” and received a Drama Desk Award nomination for work on the play “Rafta Rafta.”

She was also the associate producer for the NPR Radio Documentary, “A Feet in Two Worlds,” and has done remixes for famous artists ranging from Meredith Monk to Priyanka Chopra.

Rekha was NYU’s A/P/A Artist-in-Residence for 2006-2007.

The recipient of numerous community awards DJ Rekha was inducted into the New York City’s Peoples’ Hall of Fame in 2009.

The cultural icon has curated events for Celebrate Brooklyn, Central Park Summerstage, and has performed at the Obama White House and internationally.

A Grand Marshall of the 9th Annual NYC Dance Parade in 2015, DJ Rekha performed at the January 2017 Women’s March on DC.




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