Despite frequent monsoon-like downpours over the weekend, the Mela delivered a good show and big sounds. Said one Indian living and working Glasgow: ‘It was a really good Mela. It made me homesick!’
For the first time running over two days in Kelvingrove Park, the Mela drew in the crowds.
On Saturday 18 June, winner of the Best Urban Act Award at the UK AMAS and the Best British Asian Urban Act at the 2010 BritAsia awards, Mumzy Stranger, set the World Stage alight with his unique style of urban music. Keeping up the tempo were Bass2base, the first-ever Bollywood band to perform at the O2 Glasgow Mela. They wowed everyone with their polished blend of new and old Bollywood styles with Bhangra, Hindi, pop, funk and urban sounds.
On Sunday 19 June, Manak-E, who has dominated the Bollywood and Punjabi music scene with hits songs including Paisa Paisa and Dhoor, delighted fans. On of the world’s top Bhangra bands, DCS, made a sensational return to the Mela five years after first performing at the event. Frontman Shin said: “Glasgow is an awesome audience, I love being back. Music is my life and I love sharing it with anyone who’ll listen. That’s why I love the Mela, it is a great way to introduce new people to Bhangra music and music is a great way to introduce people to new cultures.”
International dance acts added colour and energy to the proceedings. Dressed in elaborate masks representing gods, monsters and animals, the acrobatic Chhau Dancers from Eastern Indian thrilled the crowds with an awesome routine involving swords and shields to illustrate popular tales. Tinku from Chhau Dancers said: “I have been looking forward to dancing in Glasgow. I hope our dancing inspires people to learn more about Indian culture. That’s what the Mela is about after all – sharing the best parts of different cultures.”
They were joined by local acts showcasing the cultural diversity on offer in Glasgow, with performances from Scotland’s hottest Bollywood talent, Desi Bravehearts and Eletricat Brazilian Dance.
New for 2011 was a collaboration with schools across Glasgow. This gave hundreds of youngsters the opportunity to work with Priyanka Purohit, assistant to the legendary Bollywood choreographer Pratap Shetty, to learn Bollywood, freestyle and Bhangra dance, which they performed on stage during the weekend.
A second new element this year was Dance Dhamaka. The aim of Dhamaka, meaning ‘explosion’, was to get Scotland dancing towards the Cultural Olympiads in 2012. To underline the multi-cultural nature of the Mela some of the most exciting dance groups in the country entertained festival-goers with a mix of styles including Flamenco, Chinese, Brazilian and Scottish.
Councillor George Redmond, Chair of Glasgow Life said: “In its 21 year history the festival has gone from strength to strength and continues to be a wonderful family event that highlights Glasgow as a multicultural and multi racial city. Moving to two days was definitely the right decision. Despite the rain, thousands of people have enjoyed a fabulous weekend of free entertainment at the biggest O2 Glasgow Mela yet.”