If I ever had to explain our fair city's musical landscape to an outsider in one sentence, I'd probably say something like, "Blah-blah-blah, Americana and—oh! Santa Fe sure loves its dance parties!" Whomever I was explaining this to would probably nod politely with a "whatever, dude" smirk and go about their business, completely unaware of the madness spurred by Meow Wolf (both now and back then), Mesa Recordings, the legendary Diablo Canyon parties that go all night and then some and, as of this year, the 10th iteration of the annual Bollywood Club Invasion.
From humble beginnings inside the Sanbusco Center (which is now a school or, like, maybe a rendering plant or something?) to its massive new version in the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, the Bollywood Club Invasion is this weirdly brilliant mix of hot-ass club banger hits and traditional Bollywood jams mashed up and served out alongside improvisational multi-media video creations from artist Agramzu. Mosaic Dance Company is scheduled to appear as well, with special choreography from an honest-to-goodness Bollywood choreographer. The party also boasts a bazaar, food from Jambo, henna, astrology and a special dance lesson at 7 pm just before things kick into high gear.
"I cannot believe it's been 10 years," co-founder and multiple SFR Best of Santa Fe DJ winner Sol Bentley says. "The formula, the recipe we've found for the party—and it's a true collective party—really seems to work."
Bentley, whom you may also know as Dynamite Sol, provides the Western Hemisphere-based music of the equation. His partner Sanjay Schmidt, aka Shobanon, brings in the Bollywood style. This mix sounds almost like it wouldn't work, and yet it does. "It's a little difficult with Shobanon living in San Francisco, but we coordinate about how we'd like the energy to flow for weeks leading up to the event," Bentley explains. "He does his thing, I do mine, and we match up the old Bhangra music and Bollywood classics with new club-stomping soundtracks—plus, we're both drummers by trade, so we always try to incorporate some of that live drumming, also scratching, into each other's music."
"The event has definitely just evolved and grown," Schmidt, who grew up in Santa Fe, says. "It's put me on to a lot of great music I might never have heard about—and the interesting thing about Bollywood music is, we're talking this big umbrella where we say 'Bollywood,' but Indian people think of it like Hindi music and Punjabi music. It's broken up—and I'm still going to try to provide the dance floor burners we DJs call heaters."
Both Bentley and Schmidt donate their sets and proceeds from the Bollywood Club Invasion go the Amma Center of New Mexico. Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma, for those who don't know, is an internationally touring humanitarian from India who is perhaps best-known for embracing the people of the planet. It's estimated she's hugged over 30 million people (not a typo) in her lifetime, and though she's quite spiritual, her teachings are less about any specific religion, more about the tenets of love found within most of them. (Author's note: I am not religious in any sense of the term, but hugging this woman was one of the most significant moments of my lifetime). Amma won't be on hand for the event, though she does come to Santa Fe somewhat regularly.
"For me, working and living in our community, knowing we're having a really positive impact—and helping people not just through music and community events, but also monetarily—is incredible," Bentley says. "It's so great to see it all, even after 10 years of doing this; I get people who tell me that it's, like, their one big party night a year."
Schmidt feels good about it, too. "I wouldn't miss this event for anything," he tells SFR. "It's a really organic combination of creative energy and atmosphere that is amazing. I always do what I need to do to make it happen."
Bollywood Club Invasion:
6:30 pm Saturday April 21. $7-$15.
Santa Fe Community Convention Center,
201 W Marcy St.,