DJ Zahra’s Bollywood party, is returning as a monthly event, launching Fri, Aug 15 at Buddies. Beginning in 1998 at the now-defunct Red Spot, Funkasia quickly garnered a devoted following, moving to different venues until settling on a successful run at Fly nightclub from 2001 to ’04. Since then, it’s only resurfaced occasionally on festival stages at Pride and other events while other South Asian parties rushed to fill the void.
“It’s time to bring it back,” says Zahra. “There was something special about the space: positive, campy, creative and queer, queer, queer.”
As for the music, Zahra says, “obviously Bollywood is the base but I like to throw in teases, bits of music that have influenced me, from the Footloose soundtrack and Culture Club to Dead or Alive and house. As a monthly, you have to keep throwing in musical surprises.”
The launch will feature performances by dub poet d’bi.young anitafrika, drag queen Malika Begum, 10 dancers (“wearing black ties and basically nothing else”) and more; Tonya Bolina and Sushmitarai host.
DJ Zahra, aka Zahra Dhanani, is the legal director of the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children. During the last four years, Dhanani finished her masters in law on alternative dispute resolution and worked on restorative justice for at risk youth. She’s also toured the province advising service providers on women and violence.
Does that kind of work mean she’s ready to party, now?
“Fucking right,” she says, laughing. “Funkasia is something that brings joy… to me and other people.”