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August 19, 1999
Web Site 4 Desi Boyz and Gurls Dances Into Fifth Year
Pious Kat in New York
Thanking www.desiparty.com for the information it spews several times a week, Charan Singh of San Francisco recently wrote telling the partying desis how much he enjoys the scene. "It is like a reunion for all desis in America," he wrote.
Another reader echoed his sentiments. "I like this idea of getting Indians 2gether, at every age we shud realise our true identity and cultures. I like what yuo do."
Om Malik surely loves what he has been doing for five years. But he expressed some self-doubt too.
"It is still an exciting scene," he says. "And our web site is one place where you get comprehensive information.
"We see a number of talented DJs emerging," he says referring to the younger DJ stars such as Karma, Sohail and RB. "And some of them are clearly on the verge of making it into the mainstream."
"And although I am against the insular nature of cultural groups and associations, I think it is nice to see our young people getting together once a month if not once a week."
The desi music and dance scene, though vigorous and thriving is no longer an underground, spontaneous movement that it was six or eight years ago, he says.
"There is too much of competition, too many egos," Malik, a writer for forbes.com, says. The desi parties, mostly held at the weekends often in plush clubs in over a dozen cities in America including New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Houston, and San Francisco, generate $ 5 million to $ 7 million in business in a year, he estimates. "Most of it is in New York City," he says. "But other cities are catching up too."
While there is a big growth, he observes, not everyone is making money. "On some weekends, there are six to eight parties," he says. "They are going after the same crowd of, say, about 2,000 people. Someone in that case is bound to be crushed by the competition."
Malik, 33, son of an army officer and a mother who taught Sanskrit has been a party creature since his high school days in New Delhi. In the early 1990s, he had watched the growth of pop bhangra in London but he did not find an equally stimulating desi pop scene in New York. He felt that if there was a web site to publicize the existing dance party organizers, it could act as a catalyst.
"I'm a grown man and I still like to party," Malik told The New York Times last year in a story it ran on his web site. Today, he says, he has slowed down partly because of his work at Forbes.
Nevertheless, Malik spends about 12 hours a week working with over 60 party promoters in New York, California and Texas. But most of the hits -- some 2,000 visitors a month according to The New York Times, comes from the New York tri-state area.
The site is not limited to the party scene in North America. From time to time, it lists parties in England, Australia and Singapore. It reviews music from many Hindi films -- typically, the music that would send the young crowds gyrating (like the songs in Taal) or tempt the remix DJs work on them overnight.
The web site, which is sustained by mostly music-related ads, also carries interviews with top desi music stars such as Apache Indian and Bally Sagoo.
"We offer a lot of fun information," Malik says. "But we are very serious about what we do and what we write."
The writing has to cater to the MTV generation.
In an article titled, 'Sounds of Desi Rage,' for instance, he discusses groups like Fun-Da-Mental that protest mistreatment of South Asian immigrants. Fun-Da-Mental's music "is an eclectic mix of sitar loops, tabla beats and samples of desi film tracks, set to the phat beats of hip-hop," Malik says.
The messages -- like the ones quoted earlier -- are written in desiparty lingo.
Someone named "big mama queen B" wrote last year, "I think Jersey parties are finally coming back! The last one I went by Odyssey was the bomb! The problem is that too many little kids be throwing the parties, so too many little kids be going to the parties. I think that I could speak for a lot of college people in general."
Malik may want to hug "big mama Queen B" for her complaint.
"Too many parties," he says. "Some times I wonder where this web site would go in a few years from now."
But for now, he is getting ready to write more utterly vigorous, utterly spunky reviews and post stories about newly minted DJs.
"I still find the scene interesting," he says. "There is fun in watching new talents coming from nowhere and making a mark."
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