Every Fri., 11pm. Free. Cafe Spice, 35 S. Second St. 215.627.6273. www.cafespice.com
Munish Anand isn't just a DJ. In fact, when he moved to Philly from India two years ago, it was to take a job as general manager of Old City's atmospheric Cafe Spice. But he felt the urge to bring his eight years of DJing experience to the stylish Indian bistro.
The chance came on Indian Independence Day, when he talked his way into a prime DJ slot that would've otherwise gone to some pricey New Yorker. The night was a big enough hit that Anand began spinning every Friday. Soon people were coming from Delaware, Jersey, D.C. and, yes, New York.
"It's very aggressive," says the 37-year-old Anand, who clearly enjoys the break from the business side of his work. "The whole place jumps."
He sees the fusion of Indian and Western influences as an ideal gateway for newcomers into Indian culture-from the food and dancing to drinks like the lasse martini.
A diverse crowd comes out for the night's thumping array of Bhangra, Bollywood, reggae and rap, even if the no-sneakers/no-jerseys dress code restricts it somewhat. Under the warmth of a soothing red-orange color scheme, tables are ushered away to accommodate the dance floor.
Crediting artists such as Jay-Z with bringing Indian touches to mainstream hip-hop, Anand rattles off five songs that always jumpstart the crowd.
Jazzy B featuring Apache Indian, "Dil Luteya" (Moviebox, 2004)
"Bhangra is a North Indian genre, but it's universal music. In North London it's huge. It's picking up here now. Jazzy B's phenomenal. These guys are involving so much Western music that you may not understand the words, but you like the beat. The Western influence is the sampling. The Eastern part is instruments like the tabla or the sitar. You have to use that together."
Stimuli featuring Punjabi MC, "Stop What You Doin'" (Tigerstyle Productions, 2004)
"It's a great song. The guy is rapping like, 'I don't know what you're saying and you don't know what you're saying.' And then the beat comes in."
Pritam with Sunidhi Chauhan, "Dhoom Machale" (Yash Raj, 2004)
"This is Bollywood. If a movie is released in India and it's a big hit, I have to get it. Bollywood is huge. It's very distinctive. It's like a genre by itself. And these guys have developed their art. They know when a tune is catchy."
Bally Sagoo featuring Gunjan, "Noorie" (Wea, 2004)
"This guy is a DJ who took all the old folk songs and all the old Indian movie classics, and sampled them and remixed them. He's a big hit. This is based on a cultural folk song that people sing in the weddings in North India."
50 Cent, "Candy Shop" (Aftermath, 2005)
"That's got so much of Indian music in it. The basic rhythm is totally Indian-trust me. It does so well here. That's the mix-bring a little hip-hop, bring a little Indian."
Wed., May 11, 9pm-2am. $5-$8. Fluid, 613 S. Fourth St. 215.629.0565. www.fluidnightclub.com