Bombay Boogie Night: Desi Beats Go Germany

Posted by Stefan Heil • Tuesday, October 19. 2010 • Category: Arts and Beyond
In Europe, with the exception of the UK, the popularity of Indian music (and especially clubbing on Indian music) is a very recent phenomenon. Nevertheless, even years before Bollywood and the music from the movies reached European mainstream pop culture, two young and talented Germans of Indian origin started an event series dedicated to Desi beats, which since grew bigger and bigger and is today by far the most successful and popular Indian music event series in Germany and known well beyond its borders – the Bombay Boogie Night (BBN). We had the chance to interview BBN’s Sherry Kizhukandayil (DJ Keralaboy) when BBN collaborated with Culture Must’s project “Sound Tamasha” for a gig in Berlin last September.
© Bombay Boogie Night

KM: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and about BBN!

Sherry: First of all, thank you very much for this interview. Well, let me introduce the whole thing behind the Bombay Boogie Night. In 2001, I started the project “Ambassador Network” which had the goal to bring an Indian flair to the German speaking crowds and to show the people here in Germany that India has more to offer than IT-specialists and holy cows. So our first project was the event “The Sounds of Taj Mahal” in Heidelberg (a 45 min drive south of Frankfurt) and it was in the year 2002 at the cultural location Karlstorbahnhof (a cultural centre that also has club nights). We organised this event with the team from Karlstorbahnhof and didn’t expect many people but in the end we had a crowd of over 1000 people and 80% were Germans who danced to different styles of Indian music like Bollywood, Bhangra, Indian Electronica and others. It was a fully packed programme with DJs, MCs, VJs, Dancers and much more. Please imagine that it was in a mid-sized German city and there was no Bollywood hype or anything like this yet. It was well before Slumdog Millionaire, Panjabi MC’s “Mundian to Bach Ke” and Shahrukh Khan were known in Germany!

After this, we did a show in July 2002 with the legendary Panjabi MC and he has played his first ever German gig at our club night. Two months later, the hype started with his “Mundian to Bach Ke” (I am sure you all remember this “Knight Rider sample meets Bhangra”-track). After these two historic events we started our monthly club night “Bombay Boogie Night” in January 2003, and in the over 7 years since then, we also released a compilation called “Bombay Boogie Night” with music from artists who performed at our club nights, or artists we like. The compilation shows people the musical side of a Bombay Boogie Night with artists like Asian Dub Foundation, Apache Indian, Panjabi MC and many more.

With the project “Bombay Boogie Night” and my agency “Ambassador Network” we always are giving a good platform for Indian artists worldwide to show their art like music, movies, dance and other things. Besides this we are also supporting German companies, for instance, for the release of Indian movies like this year with “My Name is Khan”. Then they are calling me and we are doing the whole promotion for the multicultural audience. So we were involved in the last 8 years in the most important Indian events in the German speaking area and hopefully we can do more of these kinds of things in the next 20 years.

KM: What made you start / create the BBN event series?

Sherry: After our first two events “The Sounds of Taj Mahal” and “Desi Sunshine” we saw that there is a big interest for Indian club music and so we decided to create a monthly “Bombay Boogie Night” – the rest is history.

KM: Bombay Boogie Night is the oldest and most successful “Desi Party” series in Germany. Why do you think BBN appeals to so many Germans and other people without an “Indian background”?

Sherry: I think there is no formula for a good club night. There are so many factors why the Bombay Boogie Night is going well. Our flyers and posters are unique I think. We always get lots of positive feedback from people about the art design of our flyer, posters and homepage, which was created by mirapix. Another factor is that we play a wide range of Indian club music. We don’t play just only one Indian music genre! Right from the beginning we played Bollywood music, Bhangra but also Desi Hip Hop, Indian Electronica, Rock, Dubstep, Drum’n’Bass, Asian Underground and much much more. Another important thing is that from the start it was our goal that the Bombay Boogie Night should be part of the normal nightlife in our home city Heidelberg, like hip hop or techno parties – and not a party for only South Asians. And we reached this goal easily and so we have a good mixed audience who loves the Bombay Boogie Nights.

© Bombay Boogie Night

KM: Talking about the broader picture, how do you see the development of Indian arts, music, and culture in Germany?

Sherry: I think there is still more to do. In the past years till today the commercial film industry “Bollywood” built a big fan base. You can watch a Bollywood movie now prime time on German TV channels. On one side that is that a good development, but the problem is now that Indian music and movies are reduced to only Bollywood. So everybody is thinking that we are playing only Bollywood music at Indian parties and that we have only movies with dance and music scenes.
Now in 2010 we still have no big Indian festival showcasing Indian culture in a high quality fashion and I hope I can change this with some people in the next 2-3 years. On the economy side there is a huge exchange between India and Germany but regarding culture we still have so much more potential and both countries should invest more effort on this cultural level.

KM: What was your best experience / best anecdote from all the years of doing BBN?

Sherry: The best memory was of course the first Bombay Boogie Night in 2001 because we didn’t know before how the reaction from the people would be – and finally all went really well. We had a full house and people danced to different kinds of Indian music till the morning. Also the “Bombay Boogie Night Birthday Bashes” were a nice experience with their special programmes. And our favourite German TV channel “Arte” has also done a special on the “Indian phenomenon from Heidelberg”. The UK radio presenter and DJ, Adil Ray, has said after his DJ gig at one of the Bombay Boogie Nights: “What a night! I played in my set also some Bhangra from heavyweights like Jazzy B and the Germans are dancing to this. This is unbelievable because in UK you don’t see many white people at Indian club nights.” Or in November we will DJ-ing at a German-Indian wedding and this couple has met for the first time at a Bombay Boogie Night. That is a really nice thing or not?

KM: What are your future plans?

Sherry: For the future we have planned to release our own “Bombay Boogie Night” album which should be produced by Bombay Boogie Night Resident DJ Pinju. For this we will collaborate with different artists who performed in the past at our Bombay Boogie Nights and it will feature lots of different genres. Besides this we would like to go with our Bombay Boogie Night and DJ team more abroad.

KM: Any last words for our readers?

Sherry: Thanks to the Knowledge Must team for this interview! Hopefully the readers can see us next year at one of our Bombay Boogie Nights – even in India itself! Till then I can say only: support Indian culture and shake your body to tha Desi Groove!

If you want to find out more about the Bombay Boogie Night please visit:
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