Sorry to keep you waiting. I’m finally sitting down to write up the Desilicious 5 Year Anniversary Party Anjali and I attended in NYC. We have been aware of the party for most of its existence, but had never had the opportunity to attend before. It was held at Club Shelter which I have never been to before. We arrived to the sounds of “Nach Baliye” which then faded into silence. We made our way through a sparsely-attended lower level up to a very-full upper level where we watched performances by two South Asian drag queens. Then it was time for us to become the show. Dance music started up, the stage filled with revellers, and the party started raging. The crowd was a mix of brown and white and very boy-heavy. Despite all the images of shirtless male desis from prior parties projected on the screen, no one took their shirt off while I was there. Because I had dressed so poorly for my NYC trip I was wearing a sports coat at the club. My shirt underneath was too embarassingly shlubby to wear without the jacket to a club night, so I sweated it out, realizing early on that I was the ONLY guy with a sportscoat on at the body-filled space.
I have always assumed that New York City club DJs are required -by their employers and the crowd- to exhibit high levels of technical DJ skills. I imagined that the birthplace of technical DJ forms such as disco/house and hip-hop would place high demands on the DJs in the clubs. My experience at the Kush Lounge with the laptop-enhanced trainwrecking of their DJ had me rethink that. I thought Desilicous would feature seamlessly beat-matched Bollywood house sets; instead the DJing by resident DJ Ashu Rai, featured songs that faded out while another was faded in, or brief out-of-time overlaps of two songs with different tempos. Nothing was horrendously jarring or drawn-out, although energy levels definitely sagged during the transitions between songs. The DJing was all about the selecting, and not the mixing.
I showed up hoping for a night of current Sunidhi Chauhan-sung dance songs. I don’t know if I heard her at all. The songs were a mix of new and old; remixed and original. All were Hindi songs during the time I was there, except for M.I.A’s “QT” vocals over Madonna’s Abba-jacking “Hung Up.” People did not seem into it, even with the Abba-by-way-of-Madonna rhythm. Some of the ther songs DJ Ashu Rai played: a remix I really liked of “Bolo Churiyan,” two songs from Kya Love Story including Alisha’s “It’s Rocking,” the new “Khaike Paan Banaras Wala,” “Salaam Namaste”(which sounded like the best song of the night to me), a mix of “Say Shava Shava,” “Dum Maro Dum (Take Another Toke) Asha Bhosle Punk-a-wallah’s remix,” the house remix of “Signal” from Bhagam Bhag, the house remix of Himesh’s new “Shaka Laka Boom Boom,” “Jhoom Jhoom (Remix),” Stereo Nation’s “Nachangi Sari Raat,” “Dhoom Again.”
Anjali and I left after an hour or two. It was still going on, but we were tired from many nights of hardly-adequate sleep. We stopped to dance to Destiny’s Child “Lose My Breath” which was playing on the lower floor on the way to the exit. I noted that the DJ on the lower floor wasn’t mixing either, which I thought at least the DJ assigned to play Western music would be doing in NYC. I always thought that only Portland had so many DJs that were selectors as opposed to mixers; now I know NYC has plenty as well.
Ashu Rai wrote the following response to this review:
I came across your review of Desilicious. Thanks for
the writeup and we’re glad you were able to come. I
had a couple of minor quibbles:
– Because this was our 5-year anniversary, we played
a larger selection of older songs (more than normal),
or our most popular Desilicious dance songs over the
years, including Shawa Shawa, the Stereo Nation track,
Bole Churiyan, etc. Specifically, I pulled tracks from
my playlist from our debut March 2002 party.
– I am the resident DJ, as well as the co-promoter
and co-founder of Sholay Productions, which has been
throwing Desilicious for 5 years.
Hopefully, you can attend a future party next time you
are in town!