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India and Pakistan come together — to party - Brooklyn Paper

India and Pakistan come together — to party

The party isn't just trying to unite Pakistanis and Indians — it also welcomes the gay community, a group that is often disenfranchised in the two nations.
Photo by Atif Toor

The song “Why can’t we be friends?” isn’t on the play list, but the tune might as be the mantra behind a joint birthday party celebrating Pakistan and India — bordering nations with concurrent independence days and decades of strained relations.

Dekalb Market will host a Bollywood-inspired electro-dance party that doubles as a belated birthday Aug. 18 bash for Pakistan and India, honoring the nations’ 65th year of independence from British rule on Aug. 14 and 15, respectively.

Party planners say music and dancing are the perfect ways for Indian- and Pakistani-Americans living in Brooklyn to move beyond the political strife that separates the two countries.

“Indians and Pakistanis have their differences, but when it comes to music and pop culture they really have shared interests,” said Atif Toor, the Pakistani-born founder of Sholay Productions, which has been throwing the parties in Manhattan for ten years, but only recently arrived in the Brooklyn nightlife scene.

And national borders aren’t the only boundaries that their parties transcend — the celebrations welcome the borough’s gay community, a group that is often disenfranchised in India and Pakistan.

“It’s just been a great place for support for people who come to the parties,” said Ashu Rai, who is a co-founder of the company and has been DJing the parties for 10 years. “I’ve heard from a lot of people that they grew up feeling isolated and this gives everyone from different kinds of backgrounds a place to come together.”

Bollywood party at DeKalb Market [38 Willoughby St. at Flatbush Avenue Extension in Downtown, (212) 529-9262 www.dekalbmarket.com] Aug. 18 at 6 pm. $10.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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