Bollywood Club Night

Bollywood comes to Belfast in an evening of all things eastern

For me the Spiegeltent is always a highlight of the Belfast Festival. It’s a venue that has played host to a huge variety of artists over the years, and one that carries a certain degree of mystique - the subtle lighting, those luscious red fabrics. The perfect venue, then, for this year's Bollywood Club Night, a sumptuous display of all things eastern and exotic.

Entering the tent, the audience are greeted by the soothing tones of a sitar accompanied by tabla drums, conjuring up images of the orient. Fighting off the urge to find some hot apple tea and a soft cushion, I make my way through the throng to one of the booths nearby and settle for some German beer instead.

On stage two musicians seuge from one piece to another as the tent fills up wth punters. It's a calming introduction to the music of the night, each song with its own distinct flavour and rhythm, the soothing sounds of the sitar overlaying the wonderful Bhangra beats.

But all of that is soon to change. After they have played for around an hour, the players depart and we are introduced to what should perhaps be described as the ‘main event’. Striking up a couple of incense sticks as she takes the stage, DJ Ritu is obviously a DJ with a difference, an authority on all kinds of eastern musical styles, and presenter of the BBC's A World In London radio show.

As the first of her records begins to beat, one-by-one people get up and start to dance. Before you know it the main central dancefloor area of the tent is moving like a Bollywood film set, everyone enjoying the cross-over influenced dance beats. Adding to the atmosphere, two professional Indian dancers treat the crowd to a choreographed routine, as Bollywood as you could imagine.

For me, at least, this evening might hve benefited from a bit more musical variety - for example, a mixing of the music, perhaps, with live musicians playing alongside DJ Ritu's electronics, a live element to reflect the audience's appreciation for the music itself.

That said, the energy of DJ Ritu's set is enough to sustain a night on the dancefloor. And after all that dancing, my feet are sore... Still looking for that soft cushion.

Graeme Stewart