Toronto
2 min

Shameless

Dancing through difference

DANCING DIFFERENCES. DJ Amita returns to the spin circuit with her unique brand of passion and fun. Credit: Xtra files

Veteran spin doctor Amita Handa, whose DJ rap sheet charts a decade’s worth of diverse gigs including Honey Funk, Desh Pardesh, Harbourfront’s Masala Mehndi Masti and Funkasia (of which she’s a co-founder), is back on the circuit after a two-year hiatus, brandishing a new monthly gig, Besharam, a fusion of Bollywood, bhangra, chutney, reggae, Tamil, hip hop and then some. The party kicks off Fri, May 7, in conjunction with South Asian Heritage month.



With Besharam (Hindu/Urdu for shameless), Karma Collective (Handa, Amar Ahlauat, Hajra Bibi and Mohammed Khan) challenge cultural politics. “It’s easy to get sidetracked by petty notions of shame and judgment,” says Handa, “while being completely numb to some of the truly shameful acts taking place in the world: the sexual shame many of us grew up with, the ways shame limits how we can feel good about ourselves, and what’s really happening in the world – post-911 shamelessness, poverty, homophobia.



“We hope to be involved in a creative politics of change. I don’t think we have to be serious, waving placards and chanting all the time. We need to have fun and express ourselves through music and dance, in an energy that’s mindful and unafraid of being aware and challenged. Male, female, gay, heterosexual, black, brown, Asian, white, Hindu, Muslim, Christian – it’s important to find human connections to deal with our problems of difference and exclusion, to survive and take care of ourselves.



“This is where music and coming together is very political. It’s a real challenge to keep lots of different people happy – different ethnic musical tastes, different sexualities and lifestyles. In the end, let’s just dance it off and have a good time!”



During her time off the decks, Handa, (who is also a doctor of sociology), wrote the essay collection Silk Saris And Mini Skirts: South Asian Women Walk The Tightrope Of Culture, spent some time teaching expressive writing at the University Of Toronto, and of course, continued to host and produce the weekly CKLN 88.1FM radio show she co-founded 11 years ago, Masala Mixx.



“The first time we did Masala Mixx, we had no idea what to do and begged the people on the show before us not to leave. We didn’t even know how to turn on the on-air switch or the mics. CKLN was a great help, as were DJs Marva Jackson and Denise Benson. It was important to see other women as DJs.”



Handa and her vinyl work well together. “For me, DJing is organic. I relate to the energy of the music, melodies, vibe, and joint musical journey that DJ and crowd take together, feeding off each other’s energy and connecting with and through the music.”



* DJ Amita spins at Divas Night Out on Thu, Apr 29 at the Tangerine Lounge and at Mona Darling, on Sat, May 1 at the ROM. Tune into Masala Mixx on 88.1FM on Saturdays from 4pm to 6pm.



BESHARAM.

$10. 10pm-3am.

Fri. May 7.

Fly. 8 Gloucester St.

(416) 925-6222.

Besharam.ca.