First Class Bhangra @ Elite 8 4 (2015) Full Review


Tough times never last, but tough people do.
What's up BTF! Wanted to post a full review of the competition from FCB's perspective. Haven't seen a true review like this in a while, so I hope this sparks some more! The weekend... It was great, interesting, stressful, and wild...

Before the comp:

The lead up to the show was just fine. Communication was never an issue. Though things weren't delivered from them on time, by all means, teams never meet deadlines either. So no biggie to me. The committee members were always very chill and willing to help us out as long as we explained what was up. Mad props for that.

The one problem I saw that was glaring was with the judging rubric. It was never clear until a few weeks before the competition how we were going to be judged. The routines were already in place at that point. So it really was just us seeing if we were designing the routine and practicing in a way that would match what we "interpreted." I will say, that the committee provided us with contact information with the judges and allowed us to freely contact them to get explanations.

There was a section on the choreography rubric called "concept/theme" and it was worth 15 pts. This was the big section in question and here's why: The rubric has nothing below each section title to describe the title. Normally we see that rubrics would have Execution as a title, and a short description or bullet points right after to help describe "execution" (did the team finish steps? were there are lot of mistakes? etc.)

We called the main point of contact and asked if they as a committee were telling the judges how this should be judged, and we were told that we need to talk to the judges to see how they will interpret the rubric since no section had any short description or bullet points. Which is fine, but then I and my fellow captains took the time out to set up meetings with the judges and found out that the judges WERE told how to interpret this specific section...

The problem that I had was that it was labeled theme/concept but we didn't have to have a theme. It was just worded that way. Which is mad confusing. But they were supposed to take what we created from a set perspective and judge how well put together it was. I just don't get how we're supposed to understand that without any short description or bullet points. I get that we could reach out to judges and find out. I get that the committee wanted to give judges more freedom to interpret dif sections of the rubric such as "spirit of bhangra." But this was a bit of a blunder.

So after the teams as a whole asking for a meeting with judges, the committee got one together and we appreciate that. It did give us all the opportunity to find out what each judge was looking for. I just wish that the committee did that from the start instead of having us set up our own individual meetings. It would have taken away a lot of confusion and unnecessary stress.

This was the only thing that was a problem leading up to the show. Everything else was fine.

Friday of Comp Weekend:

There was no official team hotel for the weekend. And thus, no formal transportation provided. But they are going to help us out with uber receipts.

The mixer was at this club/lounge. It was kinda cool. But it was BUMPING. Not really what I expected from a mixer but it was different. But this caused the captains meeting to be real inefficient with music blasting and people everywhere. The way of choosing the lineup was CRAZY:

They had 8 reps, 1 from each team. They played musical cards (chairs) around 8 cards that were on the ground that were ace through 8. When the music stopped, you had to pick up your card. In that order (ace through 8) you had to go pick a box. In the box it had a number, (1-8) and in that order you went and picked up an envelope which had a number (1-8) on the side we couldn't see. Then the committee had 8 members standing on a bench. According to the number on the envelopes, the reps had to go choose a committee member and stand in front of them. The committee members were holding a banner. And the reps hadn't opened the envelopes yet. So on the count of 3, the reps had to open the envelope and hold up a sheet of paper with a team name on it. And behind them, the committee member had to open up the banner and it had a show order spot. So the team name got that show order spot. It was wild. It was thrilling. We were told triple blind. But it was like quintuple. It's nuts that JJ still got first. But committees should create crazy games like this to make the show order as random as possible.

That night, the committee gave us rooms at GW that were 30x20, but our stage was 42x28. So we didn't take the room. Instead, a committee member, Saira (you were too clutch all weekend! :D ), showed us some spots on campus in public areas where we could practice. We were given bhiriyani for dinner. It was real good!

Day of Show:

It was nice not having early tech times. It allowed us to relax/chill at night and sleep for a good period of time. Breakfast was delivered (bagels) and we were given a room in a building across the street from Lisner. We had an issue with our big prop and the committee was super accommodating with allowing us to re-construct it after tech time. The biggest problem I saw was with the lead up to our tech time. There was minimal space at Lisner which is fine. But we had to be on a schedule on when to leave our room across the street. A committee member was goign to come get us. And that was all delayed. Then we got to Lisner with all of our stuff, and we were in very tight quarters with like 3 other teams in there too. With that, we had a BIG prop and had to figure out how to fit that into this room too. It ruined any kind of rhythm and flow for our team, and it didn't help that there was little to no space to stretch out and get ready for our tech time. It was a zoo. This could have been easily fixed by forcing the teams to go directly to their dressing rooms after their tech time instead of hanging around.

We also had one of our saaps taken in this whole fiasco. If any team finds it, would be so kind to let us know, that would be awesome. It says "Sahil" on one of the handles. Hence how we know it's missing.

Tech time was fine. I didn't really like the fact that someone was yelling how much time was left in the middle of our run through.. We purposely started our mix with over 10 minutes left. It was just distracting to hear "5 MINUTES LEFT! 5 MINUTES!!!" while we were trying to recreate what our performance should look and feel like.

All through the day, the committee was super chill, allowing us to get ready on our own terms, as long as we were ready to go an hour before our spot. +1.

But I wasn't a fan of how the whole "being on deck" thing went down. We had a dressing room up about 4 flights of steps. Fauj's was 2 below ours. So we had to come down in the middle of their performance. But then were forced back into the stairwell until they went back up to their dressing room. This was just a pain. This wasn't allowing us to have a rhythm, or pump up speeches, or extra stretching/warming up. Plus on top of that, the wrong mix was played for Fauj. And it delayed them getting off stage and up the steps. Not hating on them at all cause that SUCKS, they were angry, and rightfully so. It just sucked for us being in that hallway until 2 minutes into DCBC's performance. We had to collect ourselves, set up props to get onto stage, re stretch/warmup, etc. I don't know for sure, but it could have been a situation where teams 1, 3, 5, and 7 had a dressing room in one wing, and 2,4,6 and 8 in another to avoid this traffic situation. Logistics not so on point here, but maybe it was out of there hands...

First Class Bhangra's Performance:

Oh baby. We were AMPED. We set up, the mix started, we were ready, we got going and we had momentum. And then in the beginning of our 2nd segment, the mix just stopped. I'll say for me personally, I was so hyped and was in the moment that I didn't truly realize the mix stopped until about 12 beats later. But one of our co-captains, Rohan, yelled "keep going" so we did. Ram V (dholi ram) kept the beat going, and we went for it. The committee did try to get us to stop by turning off the lights right after our jhoomer, but we didn't stop dancing, dholi ram didn't stop playing, and our side stage supporters freaked out and had them turn the lights back on and have us finish. [SIZE=small]The crowd ate it up. Some thought it was just a gimmick. But most realized what had happened and encouraged us all the way to the end. Same with all the teams. Major shoutout to everyone throughout the audience[/SIZE][SIZE=small], and the teams that came to the front of stage and side stage to cheer us on. It was amazing to see the standing O at the end. And everyone congratulating us. We appreciate all the love![/SIZE]

After the performance, the committee gave us the option to do it again and the judges would do everything to judge fresh. The team as a whole opted to not do that as we had very little turn around time and we would not be ready/re-amped/rested to do it again at the same level. (we went 7th in the show of 8 teams)
The committee took us to the judges and gave us a few minutes to ask any questions before they started deliberating. They allowed us and FAUJ to do this since the technical errors were out of our hands. It was nice. But ultimately, the judges have to judge based on what they watched. It's unfortunate what had happened. But it is what it is.

The judges gave us very good feedback. They handled the situation the best they could and that's all we can ask for.

We were given this explanation on Sunday morning by the committee about why our music stopped:

In the Lisner Auditorium, the sound booth is in the audience in between the main level and the seats that scale up to the back. Supposedly someone was walking through the walkway in the middle of our performance and bumped the guy running sound. That caused the auxiliary cable to be yanked from the laptop from which the mix was being played. The mix was being played from iTunes, and the mix was then paused because the aux cable was pulled. So we were beats ahead of where the mix COULD have continued. But they didn't plug it back in, and just let us go. (Thankful for that haha) They apologized for trying to get us to stop by turning off the lights but realized we weren't gonna stop and didn't want that to cause us to bump in formation or injure us or anything.

We appreciate the committee coming to us on Sunday morning and speaking to us about it, and explaining the situation. They said it best: "We messed up on the most basic things we had to do: give you a stage, and play your mix. We can't be more sorry and feel any worse than we do."


First, the committee does need to provide teams with more food if they can. Plenty of guys on my team didn't eat including myself prior to the after party. And the after party, from my view, ran way smoother than any other DC after party I've been to. It started off not so packed, but got packed. But that is no reason to complain. I had a great time with the team and everyone else that was there. It sucks that no clubs in the immediate area could accommodate so many people. And because of hotel situation, there was no transportation provided. But it worked out just fine. Teams only line was CLUTCH.


Can't say it was my best bhangra experience. But it was far from my worst. Committee was always very very chill and accommodating.

Shout outs to Sidra, Saira, Simi and everyone else that helped us out all weekend. Even though some things didn't run so smoothly, you guys did great.

Shout out to JJ! Routine and performance was awesome! Congrats and thank you for your support!

Shout out to all teams who brought awesome performances throughout the night! Bhangra is alive.

Special shout out to BrinDiesel for being an awesome Liaison and hanging with us all weekend!!

Shoutout to all the teams and those who gave us love and support during and after our performance.

Shoutout to our MVP: Dholi Ram. Held it down and gave us the taals to finish the performance.

Shoutout to Tejas for always coming to our practices when he could and playing Dhol along side. We would def not have been ready without you.

Shoutout to all our FCB Family and CMU Bhangra family that came and supported and hung out/partied with us.

Shoutout to my team for being the best group I could ever ask for.

Things don't always work out in a perfect way. Actually, they never do. Just make the most of what you got and don't quit.

Much love btf! Good night.


♥ BTF ♥
Staff member
Thank you for taking the time to post this up Sid! Amazingly detailed and well put together.

Would love to read more reviews - either from those that attended the show or dancers.

By the way, did Ram practice dhol with your team a lot to where he just knew the beats for the songs you used? That's definitely clutch and requires a lot of skill to play live when you're used to just playing over a song's beat (like most music-team dholis generally do). As Swi said on fb, chant of the night MVP.. is Ram V ;)

~ Basim :)


New Member
really a shame that happened, nearly inexcusable in context..but I suppose sometimes stuff just happens.

that being said, the way you and your team responsed on stage and now in writing shows a remarkable poise and spirit. that to me trumps a "sick routine" any day of the week


Active Member
something to note about Elite's preparations prior to the show is the PR efforts. The show was sold out, and it's absolutely amazing to have a packed house for teams to dance for. We've gone to a lot of shows over the past 6 years, and in general attendance has been declining. Having every seat in the audience filled is a huge victory for this committee and definitely made the environment special for every team that night.


Tough times never last, but tough people do.
i thought i wrote about the mixer and friday night. I guess i didn't lol. Added it into the original post.

msghoya said:
really a shame that happened, nearly inexcusable in context..but I suppose sometimes stuff just happens.

that being said, the way you and your team responsed on stage and now in writing shows a remarkable poise and spirit. that to me trumps a "sick routine" any day of the week
we appreciate the love!

Basim said:
Thank you for taking the time to post this up Sid! Amazingly detailed and well put together.

By the way, did Ram practice dhol with your team a lot to where he just knew the beats for the songs you used? That's definitely clutch and requires a lot of skill to play live when you're used to just playing over a song's beat (like most music-team dholis generally do). As Swi said on fb, chant of the night MVP.. is Ram V ;)

~ Basim :)
Ram V had our rough mixes though we had made a few changes to it in the weeks leading up. That's all he had plus the practice on friday night, and tech time. He's a beast.


Here's my brief review of Elite 8 Bhangra 2015 from my perspective as a spectator. My experience attending the last Elite 8 (2012) will serve as a point of reference/comparison.


Show started a little late (I think half an hour or so), but that is to be expected for any desi event because of IST. Doors opened as advertised at 630pm, but people were allowed to grab tickets a little earlier which was nice.

The show kicked off with some sponsor announcements and a great exhibition performance by DCMPAA. The first competing team was Joshiley Jawan.


Joshiley Jawan - Very clean, especially for a 16-man set. The choreo was difficult but they executed it very well. The performance would have been a lot more enjoyable if it hadn't been for the audio issues - after about two minutes or so, I could barely hear anything. Too much bass? Pata nahi ki gal c, but the issue of audio clarity was corrected for the upcoming performances. Other audio issues persisted throughout the show (FCB and FAUJ).

CMU Bhangra - Hands down, as the emcee announced, one of the best collegiate teams in the bhangra circuit. They've gotten better and better over the past few years, and I'm glad they earned a spot in this lineup of elite teams. CMU was noticeably cleaner than they were two weeks ago at Fever, and I really enjoyed some of the changes they made to the set. I particularly love the opening where the jodis do matha tek together before getting into position for the shikke segment. It shows humility, respect and speaks volumes about the character of the team. And I forget his name, but the blue guy at the front during the jugni segment absolutely kills it every time.

DC Metro Punjabi Arts Academy - I enjoyed the performance. For going 16, they were not as clean as Joshiley, but I do like the fact that they are perhaps the only co-ed team in the East Coast to go 16 this season (actually, when was the last time an East Coast co-ed team went 16? Props to DCMPAA). The set was a little sloppy especially as the orange jodis joined along to make the total number of dancers 20.. Overall, though, solid performance and I look forward to watching them in the future.

I loved the opening exhibition performance which started with little kids and progressed to older and older kids, showcasing the various age groups in the academy. Also, those little DCMPAA kids in the highlighter shirts absolutely ripped it on stage to this song during the dance-offs. They were so fun to watch.

Cornell Bhangra - My favorite Cornell performance in years. All of the gimmicks hit very well. Very, very excited to see how Cornell does at WBBC with this set +/- some changes. I want to go into details on some of the gimmicks, but I'll refrain from doing so since they'll be performing at WBBC in just a few weeks.

F*A*U*J - Excellent performance. F*A*U*J was super clean and all of the gimmicks hit very well. Sucks to know that the wrong mix was played, and that the flash paper gimmick, which I thought was pretty cool, led to a point deduction. The opening with khunde on the back reminded me of their performance from VPD 2012. I was hoping to hear a sher, which I think makes the military theme seem even more powerful and should preface their sets most if not all of the time.

DC Bhangra Crew - One of my favorite performances from Saturday night. Really enjoyed watching this team and I thought this performance was considerably better than ones in the past, particularly those at T-Dot and Bruin. It was a lot cleaner, and the white rumaalan were a nice touch. I absolutely loved the mix, can't wait for them to release it.

I didn't like, however, and this applies to several (but NOT all) teams, the inclusion of silly, irrelevant props/gimmicks to reference the name of the competition. The rubric awarded a max of 5 points for an Elite 8 reference, which imo is a bit excessive. Only one, maybe two points should be awarded for comp name reference. It seems several teams spent many hours constructing props and putting together gimmicks to showcase the name of the comp. I'm not a fan of this, and I feel that such intriciate, huge comp name references take away from the performance. again, this is a general critique that is not limited to the teams at this comp or this comp alone.

First Class Bhangra - I remember finalizing my plans to attend Elite 8 after talking to Sid on the phone two weeks ago. He said, "dude, come to Elite. We've got some crazy shit planned." Haha I don't think anyone expected what took place on stage, what turned into one of the most memorable performances in bhangra history. If what FCB did doesn't qualify as elite, I'm not sure what does. Their decision to keep going despite the tech fail speaks volumes about the nature of the team.

"Things don't always work out in a perfect way. Actually, they never do. Just make the most of what you got and don't quit."

Very well said, Sid.

I know this has been said over and over again, but...the audio cut off about a minute into FCB's mix. They went live and were killing it, then the committee tried to dim down the lights to encourage them to get off, but they kept going and Dholi Ram held it down for what turned into the most spectacular performance of the evening. The crowd was going WILD. I haven't seen a crowd response like that in so long. The crowd in general was very vocal and enthusiastic, but when it came to FCB's performance, it was just insane. And that standing ovation at the end.

Shaan Mutiyaaran Di - SMD is just on another level this year. They've accomplished a lot, and everything is better, from execution to individual dancer skill to creativity and the gimmicks/props which correspond very well to the mix/choreo and are fun to watch. They delivered one of the best performances of the night.

Show cont'd

The emcee was great and got better as the show progressed!

Jaggy Singh wasn't as good as I thought he would be! Should have handed the mic to Ikam, the pink guy from FCB, or Dholi Ram! 8)

Those little DCMPAA kids in the highlighter shirts were just awesome.

After Party:

After party was whack. I was trying to leave soon after I arrived, but I ended up leaving around 20 minutes before the party ended. It was just a huge mob of people by the time I got there (12:45am). There was very little room to dance, but it was nice seeing a lot of familiar faces and meeting some new ones. There were a bunch of fights, but this isn't unusual for an after party. Also, I wasn't diggin the music - it just didn't seem to have a flow. I just wasn't feelin' it. Last Elite 8 (2012)'s after party was in a HUGE venue and space was a non-issue; there was plenty of room to dance. It would have been nice if the after party was in the 2012 venue again.

Overall, all of the performances were great! Elite 8, with its rubric and reputation, encourages teams to really bring it, and they did just that.

Congratulations to Waleed, Maneet and other members of the Elite 8 committee/Emdo team for reviving Elite 8 Bhangra and getting it back on track.

Shoutout to Manraj for absolutely killing it, as well as Simran, Vishal, Simrat and other members of Joshiley Jawan on winning Elite 8!

If I think of more stuff to comment on, I'll edit this post.