HUNGAMA: Where chaos meets club cultural activism

We spoke to Ryan Lanji, founder of LGBTQ+ Bollywood collective and party HUNGAMA, who explains how his project embodies a joyous cultural resistance and what we can expect from the very first HUNGAMA at fabric on 17th March.

HUNGAMA: (n.) chaos; heat; excitement

They say that “joy is an act of resistance”. Celebration has long been considered a part of activism and resistance, the act of creating space and spreading joy in the face of oppression or prejudice is nothing new – an energy embodied quite aptly by emerging cultural force and community party HUNGAMA.

What began at The Glory in Haggerston – a celebrated hub for East London’s queer scene – has evolved into a multifaceted rave and site for expressive activism. The party’s founder, cultural producer, curator, media personality and POC and LGBTQ+ activist Ryan Lanji, has grown the concept from the ground up, having since taken HUNGAMA to venues like The V&A, Soho House and Tate Modern. As the voice and vision beyond HUNGAMA, Ryan is striving to raise awareness about attitudes to sexuality prevalent in South Asia and to increase representation of the South Asian community within dance music itself.

HUNGAMA’ in Hindi means 'Chaos' – all things tumultuous, riotous, of uproar and disorder. And it is this definition that influences the spirit of Lanji’s party. HUNGAMA was the very first LGBTQ+ Bollywood club night in the UK and has since grown to become an empowering space of freedom for South Asian Queers and allies to express their individuality. Merging Bollywood energy, fashion and art with club culture, a HUNGAMA event lands anywhere between a rave and an act of cultural resistance.

On Thursday 17th March, HUNGAMA celebrates their 4th birthday right here at fabric. It also marks an exciting moment for us at the club, the very first time we’re hosting a party of this kind.

Ahead of the event, we sat down with Ryan who fills us in on how the party began, what it means to him and his community, and what we can expect from the very first HUNGAMA at fabric.

What made you decide to throw your own club night and how does this platform differ from all of your other creative projects?

Ryan: I decided to throw HUNGAMA because it was a gap our community needed. As a person who identifies as Queer, South Asian, British, Canadian and whose work spanned fashion, art & culture, I felt the need to create a space that allowed all of these things to exist at the same time. HUNGAMA differs from all of my other projects because not only is it a safe haven for me to bridge my upbringing, my childhood and my career/persona but it is an ode to the love I have for Bollywood, my mother and the possibilities of cultural creativity. 

How does the theme of "chaos" influence your parties?

Ryan: I like the word ‘Hungama’ because it means ‘Chaos’ & ‘Celebration’ - the word was used by my mom whenever she would describe the elation of the parties we would throw at home or the aftermath of weddings and family get-togethers. I love this word because to me it was the sound of her cultural euphoria and happiness. When it comes to the party, the ‘chaos’ is best embodied by the incredible walks of life who dress up to party, celebrate themselves and listen to the hybrid sounds of Bollywood, club music, pop and the queer anthems we all love and cherish. It’s the dichotomy of the chaos that makes HUNGAMA beautiful and unforgettable. 

Can you tell us a bit about the artists on the line up and what they'll bring to Hungama's first event at fabric?

Ryan: I am so excited to have some of our household names playing fabric like Shivum Sharma, Myself and the incredible My Panda Shall Fly, but we have also taken this opportunity to invite incredible queer DJ’s such as Almass Badatt, DJ Pray and Thempress to play their favourite tracks for our five year celebration. 

We are thrilled to have our iconic Bolly Illusion perform who has stolen the Hearts of East London, and we have invited the incredible Yvy (The Bolly witch) to join us again after their insane performance last year. And lastly, I am THRILLED to introduce Bindiya who isn’t a stranger but a new addition to the HUNGAMA roster of performers. What’s exciting as well is that we have an amazing list of Hosts including the amazing Sheerah Ravindran, Deepanshu Sharma, and the dazzling Kaajel Patel. 

It’s truly going to be a MASSIVE party and celebration that anyone who loves Bollywood and South Asian culture should not miss!

HUNGAMA celebrates their 4th Birthday on Thursday 17th March with My Panda Shall Fly, Ryan Lanji, Shivum Sharma, Almas Badatt & DJ Priya. Tickets below.

On Wednesday 16th March HUNGAMA release their
debut EP.

Words: Isobel Trott & Ryan Lanji