The spicy scent of curry emanating from the Kasa food truck, parked within eyeshot, curls up my nostrils and once again I am at the entrance of Public Works with anticipation in my heart. I receive the welcome that I have come to associate directly with indigenous cultures: warm, electric and familiar. I follow an East Indian couple as they pass the ticketing table, conversing excitedly in Punjabi, and watch as they beeline to the main dance floor. Hit with an explosion of excitement and curiosity, I watch as they jump into the writhing mass of Bhangra dancers and start performing steps as if the several hundred of them choreographed and practiced especially for this moment.
While standing in awe of these swaying bodies, a gorgeous man with deep-set brown eyes and flawless mocha skin approaches me with an innocent hand and a smile of encouragement. I immediately decline, regretting it only for a moment. The culture of Bhangra dancing is one of participation and joyful movement regardless of skill level and l’ll continue to get invitations, that I’ll accept, and impromptu lessons all night. Excited participants soon engage me, prompting me to inquire about the history of this community. Ignorantly assuming that Non-Stop Bhangra came to fruition solely to partner with Hookahdome, I am corrected and find out that this party has been happening monthly for the past 8 years. Initially created as a celebratory culmination of a years worth of dance classes, the Dholrythms-founded Bhangra party quickly exploded as one of the Bay Area’s best dance nights. I tragically pull myself away from the bouncing Bhangra dancers to ensure I catch every moment of Jef Stott’s set. It’s 1am, and while I’m usually understanding of the common practice of DJ’s running over, I’m currently cursing the ever-so-talented DJ Dulce Vita.
I can barely contain my excitement to hear Stott live. After spending the few previous days in communication with Jef, we built a connection without ever meeting face-to-face. Under One Roof, is the official cd release party for Jef Stott’s new album, Arcana. When we chatted earlier in the week, Jef spoke about the emotional journey that lead up to this new body of work with both humility and enthusiasm. Being somewhat absent from the Global Bass scene for the last few years, Stott feels confident in the powerful presence
that he has cultivated for his comeback. Blessing Public Works with his album launch is just the beginning for his auditory allegory. Soon Stott will be off on a two month national tour with stops in the east, south and, of course, the highly anticipated Symbiosis Festival in the Nevada Desert.
My begrudging attitude quickly shifts and I start to sway to the sexy sounds of the smiling Miss Vita, the captain of the Opulent Temple musical odyssey. Before long, I see Stott amping up for his set. Situated in prime groupie location, the speakers explode with dulcet Middle Eastern melodies and bass that knocked me on my ass, then immediately sent me flying. As I watch Stott glow with inspiration and vision as he opens his diary for our hungry ears; I barely notice that a duo of buxom beauties have floated to the small platform in front of the Dj booth. Clad in ornate jewels, flowing skirts and all the beautiful belly my happy eyes could desire, this bellydancing duo take Stott’sperformance to another level. The crowd is pushing to the front to get a taste of these gyrating goddesses while writhing rhythmically to Stott’s ever changing symphony of sartorial sounds, tailor made for our eardrums. Once adequately inebriated by stomach rolls and hip drops, Stott steps effortlessly into the limelight and divinity shines through him. He bangs on electric tablas with a thud that reverberates into my toes and a snare that tickles my inner child. Time stops and I fall into harmonic hypnosis, continuously pulled deeper as Stott’s electric oud and tunisian siren come into the mix. I leave all time and space awareness behind and blissfully float through the rest of Stott’s set and then around the venue until I am kicked out at 3:30. Insatiable Bhangraites jam downstairs until the very last beat and skip out gleefully along with the swooning Hookahdome crowd. Feet rightfully sore and heart fantastically high, I leave Public Works with almost as much joy as I did the first night I went to Hookahdome on playa. Well done gang.