Asian youth styles

   Asian youth styles derive from the dualistic heritage bequeathed to second generation Asians in Britain. Spanning geographical, religious and caste divides, it is a heritage comprising the traditional Asian diasporic culture of their parents (who arrived as South Asian and African immigrants between the 1950s and 1970s) and the indigenous British culture of their birth and/or upbringing.
   Afro-Caribbean youth styles comprise a third strongly discernible influence. During the 1970s and 1980s, the closely forged links between the second generation descendants of the largest British ethnic minority groups were fortified by the commonality of racism, their homogenized political categorizing as ‘black’, and working-class urban propinquity. Fluidly manoeuvring themselves between white British and Afro-Caribbean cultures and their own culture, Asian youth have assimilated Western influences without relinquishing traditional ones. Late 1980s sampler and rave culture enabled bhangra to emerge from its sequins and synthesizer confines in crossover musical fusions with other dance styles such as house and techno, increasing its accessibility for ‘British-Asian’ youth. Daytime bhangra concerts were arranged, providing an alternative space for Asian youth to gather and dance without need of parental permission. Bhangra’s fusion with ragga produced ‘bhangramuffin’ in the continued youth dialogue between Asian and Afro-Caribbean youth; Apache Indian embodies the bhangramuffin sound and style.
   In 1996, the London-based emergence of an Asian underground identified another uniquely ‘British-Asian’ subculture integrating classical and popular Asian and Western musical and stylistic influences. Musical pioneers like Talvin Singh and Nitin Sawhney fused drum ’n’ bass, frenetic breakbeats and experimental dance styles with classical Indian instrumentation (such as tablas, sitars, sarongis and bhajans), quawwali vocals and Bollywood samples by musical icons such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. Asian underground youth combined traditional Indian dress like the shalwar-kameez (normally reserved for domestic and cultural occasions), Nehru tunics, kurtha, sari tops and bindis with trainers, club and combatwear (denoting a harderedged, politically conscious musical-stylistic alliance exemplified by bands like Fun da Mental and Asian Dub Foundation).
   Stereotypically regarded as a passive, alien group, resisting assimilation because of their cultural, religious and bilingual backgrounds, Asian youth have begun to hybridize their collective influences through a genuinely expressed British- Asian identity that confidently counter previous cultural displacements.
   See also: Asian fashions
   Further reading
    Sharma, S., Hutnyk, J. and Sharma, A. (eds) (1996) Dis-Orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music, London: Zed Books (an incisive examination of Asian dance music, providing a contextual grounding for Asian youth styles).
   SATINDER CHOHAN

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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