Chaos and freedom at Hungama, where queer culture meets Bollywood: a conversation with curator Ryan Lanji.

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Attenders at Hungama, London. Photography by: Iolo Lewis Edwards (@iolsi).

Taking place in different venues across East London, Hungama is a club night created by Canadian-born art and fashion curator Ryan Lanji to serve the double purpose of celebrating LGBTQ+ South Asian community and creating a safe space for everyone.

Especially in light of recent statistics on discrimination of BAME communities  across the UK, Hungama plays a pivotal role in London’s nightlife by creating an opportunity for Queer Asians to come and celebrate their cultural heritage.

With regards to its meaning, Hungama is an Urdu word, which loosely translates in english as ‘chaos, noise, disturbance and disruption’.

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Curator Ryan Lanji playing some tunes at Hungama.   Photography by: Iolo Lewis Edwards (@iolsi).

Recalling his childhood memories during a conversation with me, Lanji says:  ‘When I was a kid, my mother used this word to describe chaotic parties, which reached a sort of breaking point’.

On this note, attenders at Hungama, coming from a wide range of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, perfectly embody this ‘philosophy of chaos’ by experimenting freely with clothes and make-up, dancing ecstatically until the early morning.

This pristine feeling turned into the project, which is first and foremost rooted in Lanji’s desire to create an immersive and cultural experience: by merging Bollywood references with hip hop culture, acid house with punjabi music, partygoers are encouraged to reflect on diasporic experiences.

Hungama-Lanji Live Set. June 2018. Courtesy of Ryan Lanji.

The mashup, made for every single Hungama, perfectly manifests Lanji’s experience of growing up listening, on one side, to Notorious Big and Tupac and, on the other, to the last Bollywood tunes with her mother during car journeys.

‘I am Canadian, British, Hindu, Punjabi, and gay – and I work in fashion’ (Ryan Lanji interviewed by Dazed).

Lanji, as many other fellow South Asians, grew up with many different cultures and aims to celebrate these intersections in all his curatorial outlets, for instance the 2017 exhibition The Beauty of Being British Asian at the Old Truman Brewery.

‘Hungama is unfiltered, unadulterated authenticity and should be a catalyst for people to connect with and understand Asian culture in a club context’. (Ryan Lanji interviewed by Dazed).

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Adrian (@brother_of_set) and MAMA (@mamma_stylist) at Hungama. Photography by: Iolo Lewis Edwards (@iolsi).

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Chaos and happiness at Hungama. Photography by: Iolo Lewis Edwards (@iolsi).

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Attender entranced by Hungama’s vibes.  Photography by: Iolo Lewis Edwards (@iolsi).

Lanji is thinking of extending Hungama outside clubs and collaborating with museums with the idea of playing for late-night openings and creating ‘an atmosphere for people to enjoy’.

To conclude, I might say I have rarely experienced such a positive and safe atmosphere: Hungama made feel like being out of London, partying in India and I would, for these reasons, highly recommend it to everyone who is open to cutting-edge inclusive queer experiences.

Hungama next takes place at Visions Video Bar, Dalston August 17th.

To stay updated, follow Hungama on Instagram (@hungama_ldn) or directly contact Ryan Lanji on Instagram (@mslanji) and Twitter (@RyanLanji).

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