DJ Rekha Wants to Make You Dance

The Basement Bhangra founder created a sanctuary for generations of South Asian Americans. The artist isn’t done anytime soon.

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DJ Rekha playing at a club for Diwali 2022 (Instagram, DJ Rekha)

Mehr Singh


June 22, 2023


10 min

On Friday, June 2, at The Sultan Room, a longtime Bushwick oasis for performances by the likes of Erykah Badu and Prateek Kuhad, partygoers bopped to Bally Sagoo’s “Yeh Sama Hai Pyar Ka” remix, meaning, “it’s the time for love.” 

Padma Lakshmi swayed her arms before taking a twirl. LaWhore Vagistan, who describes herself as “everyone’s favorite Desi drag aunty,” appeared bedazzled in a cheetah print gown. Even the club-averse (guilty), and those that didn’t speak a lick of Hindi couldn’t help but dance. This is the “Proud” edition of Bollywood Disco, a dance party with “filmi classic eclectic disco grooves” that DJ Rekha — the artist, producer, curator, and creator of Basement Bhangra — began in 2002. 

Over 20 years ago, the multihyphenate introduced much of the U.S. to bhangra music. Since, they have performed at SXSW, the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and the White House. Long before bhangra music gained mainstream appeal, DJ Rekha’s Basement Bhangra was a haven for South Asian Americans. As Lakshmi once said, “[The] real ones know.”

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