By Laura Casteel
In Bollywood cinema, “dishoom” is the quintessential action sound, akin to the “pows,” “biffs,” and “zonks” of the 1960s “Batman” television series. But to one North Carolina DJ, it means a colorful clash of global music and artistic media that creates an explosion on the dance floor.
Ranganathan Rajaram, known professionally as DJ Rang, considers deejaying an art form. A student both of European and South Indian classical music, Rang brings his musical knowledge to the turntables through live mash-ups of vocals, rhythms, and global music samples, turning the space between songs into a creative canvas. His style draws crowds to his events throughout the Triangle: Super Secret Dance Party, at Arcana, and Flight Delayed!, at the Cortez Seafood & Cocktail. One event has become a fan favorite: “DISHOOM: A Global Dance Party."
Hosted annually at Motorco Music Hall, in Durham, DISHOOM is a live performance experience for all the senses. Rang spins an international playlist of Bollywood hits, bhangra, reggaeton, hip-hop, Arabic pop, and more, while Durham-based filmmaker Saleem Reshamwala (KidEthnic)—the director behind G Yamazawa’s viral music video “North Cack”—projects visual mashups of Bollywood movie clips and Youtube videos. Live musicians, such as percussionist Jeetu Singh and his brother, vocalist Manjit Singh, add their own flair to DJ Rang’s remixes, and attendees are treated to a Bollywood and bhangra dance lesson at the beginning of the event. These elements combine to form a diverse showcase of North Carolina talent. It’s a testament to the collaborative and international spirit of the state’s music scene, not to mention an incredible dance party.
Started in 2013, DISHOOM has evolved over the years. The January 2020 event shifted from the typical late-night party to a daytime, family-friendly event for all ages. This year’s DISHOOM was sponsored by UNC-TV, and served as a preview party for the PBS food series No Passport Required, with Marcus Samuelsson. As the event evolves, its cross-cultural, cross-generational appeal seems to reveal itself even more.
“It’s nice to see people…who were at my parties five years ago, and now they’re here with their families,” says Rang. “The ultimate reward of deejaying is seeing your crowd on the floor come alive.”
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, DJ Rang continues that evolution, bringing his Super Secret Dance Party back as a monthly livestream on Twitch. The next dance party will be on Friday, June 5. Keep an eye on DJ Rang’s Instagram, @DJRang, and Super Secret Dance Party’s Instagram, @SSDParty, for details.
Story and Video by Laura Casteel:
Laura Casteel is a video producer for the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Originally from Pittsboro, North Carolina, she is also a poet, essayist, and budding songwriter. Visit her website at casteelvideo.com or follow her on Instagram @casteel.laura.