If there were a recipe for the first annual Reggaeton Bhangra Multicultural Event that occurred last Friday night, it probably would look something like this: Take one part India, one part Puerto Rico, and a generous portion of ethnic beats and rhythms. Mix well. Add a heaping spoonful of delicious cuisine, a crowd of jiving Hyde Parkers, and plenty of spice. Pour into the University of Chicago’s Hutchinson Commons. Shake and stir until the party begins.
The night, which was sponsored by the Organization of Latin American Students, the South Asian Student Association, Belle Bhangra, La Unidad Latina, and Dance Marathon, blended South Asian and Caribbean cultures to create an atmosphere ripe for dancing, dining, and fun. “We had a great turnout–every seat was packed,” said Erin Matson, a third year at the University who helped organize the event. According to Matson, the evening was inspired by a party held at Dartmouth. When student groups in Hyde Park got wind of the idea, they pooled resources in the hope of bringing the party to the Midwest.
The specific mix of Indian and Puerto Rican cuisine and cultures was chosen to backdrop the emerging genre of Bhangraton, which combines traditional Indian music with the cool sounds of the islands and was the soundtrack for the night. “Bhangra started as folk music in India and Reggaeton has its roots in Latin America, but they’ve both been influenced by hip-hop and R&B, and they’ve developed a similar sound and beat so they melded really well,” said Matson of Bhangraton. Mixing and melding materialized as the theme of the evening; from music to food, attendees to performers, many different components from many diverse backgrounds came together to make one very fun night. Let’s hope they use the same recipe next year.