PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For 2 decades, Anjali Hursh has been bringing people together with her music and her South Asian dance moves.
She’s better known as DJ Anjali. “But my full name is actualy Gitanjali. My mom named me. My mom’s from India. She named me after a book of poems, which Gitanjali means song offering. So it was kind of like — I was born to be a DJ, you know?”
She’s been owning that birthright, hyping up Portland crowds since 2000 along with her partner, The Incredible Kid.
The style for which she is best known, Bhangra, “is Punjabi folk dance. That style, it’s almost like that music found me, like my family’s from a different part of India. So I didn’t grow up with Bhangra. But when I became a DJ, I got a couple Bhangra CDs and compilations and it was just, like, it’s such fun party music.”
It’s party music and dance scenes you might see in Bollywood movies.
“Like, arms up, everybody’s, like, jumping up and down,” she said, laughing. “Bollywood definitely, kind of, absorbs a lot of Bhangra.”
Before becoming a DJ, though, there was a time when Anjali didn’t embrace that side of her ancestry.
“Of course, I went through my teenage era where I was, like, I reject all of my Indian heritage,” she said. “Then it came back to me after college, like, organically, like, on my own terms, I guess.”
Now she has advice for others who might be going through something similar.
“I think as a kid, like an Asian immigrant kid, you can just be so annoyed when you’re young by all of the traditions. I think that’s really typical to go through your rejection phase,” she said. “But then the beauty of it is that later in life you can embrace it kind of on your own terms, you know what I mean?”
Through her journey to embrace her Indian roots, DJ Anjali has been able to spread joy while sharing a fun part of her culture.