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"Bhangra and Beats" event brings 2nd night market to downtown San Francisco

"Bhangra and Beats" Night Market to fill up downtown San Francisco streets
"Bhangra and Beats" Night Market to fill up downtown San Francisco streets 03:43

San Francisco streets will be filled with Friday evenings with another night market event bringing people together with local vendors to enjoy food, music, and nighttime fun.

Bhangra and Beats Night Market returns Friday for the first of four events in 2024 to help bring people into the city's downtown. The South Asian-themed event will honor other cultures around the world throughout the year with a focus on other Asian communities this week in honor of AAPI Heritage Month.

"This isn't just an Indian night market, it is a Bay Area experience," said Vicki Virk, the co-founder of Non Stop Bhangra, which in partnership with Into The Streets SF and the city are organizing the event. "We are working with all kinds of artists, we have so many food vendors, it's just basically a celebration of the diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area and so we're excited to see it come to life again."

Virk says that in 2023 the event brought in 30,000 people over three different nights. They will add an extra night in 2024 to give people four chances to experience Bhangra and Beats with each bimonthly gathering having a unique focus beyond South Asian culture, highlighting other Bay Area communities. The night market on Friday along with the scheduled dates in July and September will fall on the same evening as the BeChinatown Night Market along Grant Street.

"I think there's space for all of it and I think it's amazing to see arts and music being celebrated and then just you know bringing people back into the city of San Francisco to remember that this is a very vibrant, beautiful city that we all live in," Virk told KPIX.

The city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development echoed that message, as one of the partners for the night market with Mayor London Breed's office. Both events are successful at bringing people to downtown and offer a distinct feel, according to a statement sent to KPIX. City leaders hope that the synergy between the two night markets gives people the chance to celebrate a range of AAPI cultures within walking distance.

"This is a beautiful city and yeah it's had its downtime and obviously every city goes through that but San Francisco is truly a remarkable city," Virk said. "It's full of community and culture and music and arts and I think if there's anything that can bring life back to something, it's the arts."

Virk will perform a dance on Friday that she choreographed, combining different styles from northern India. Bhangra is a popular folk dance from Punjab, India with origins in the farming community, a harvest dance that celebrates communities coming together. Her piece has elements of Bhangra and other Punjabi dances for an all-women group taking the stage.

"I love it because it's really beautiful, it is very graceful, it's colorful," she said while performing a part of the dance in Golden Gate Park for KPIX.

After 20 years of working in dance, she is still excited to share her culture with new audiences and hopes more people will come out to Bhangra and Beats in 2024. The additional night in November will give her and the collaborators for the event the chance to host a first-of-its-kind Diwali celebration in the city.

"Being in the Bay Area is a privilege and a blessing you know, living in San Francisco is a privilege and a blessing," Virk said.

The night market will close off three blocks of downtown around Battery and Clay and is open from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Friday.

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