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Sunday, November 29, 2009

getting down, yogi-style

most people outside of the yoga community think that a yogi's idea of fun means spending the entire day chanting the single syllable om, hoping to achieve enlightenment. or trying to learn how to stand on one's head. or even levitate.

maybe that's true for some, but for most of us, we're pretty much regular folk. we like to sing and dance, although our form of singing and dancing probably won't land us on american idol. or SYTYCD (so you think you can dance, for the non-followers).

what we do is called kirtan, a form of bhakti, or devotional, yoga. it involves a leader, or wallah, who is usually accompanied by other singers as well as one or more percussion, string, and wind musicians. the leader chants out a mantra and everyone else chants it right back. back and forth. over and over again. faster and faster. until the room goes ecstatic and the room is filled with writhing, swaying bodies. it's almost like being on a natural high!

LA has a fairly large population of kirtan aficionados. we are such an appreciative audience that our fair city has become a regular stop for most musicians on the kirtan circuit -- krishna das, jai uttal, dave stringer, wah!, david newman, girish, deva premal, snatam kaur... the list goes on and on.

in fact, on any given weekend, there's bound to be a kirtan packing the classrooms at exhale venice or bhakti yoga shala, two yoga studios on the westside. and that's the problem; eastsiders either have to schlep all the way to the beach to get their kirtan fix, or go without.

and this is where the hip new kali klub comes in. located in a warehouse just north of downtown LA in atwater village, the klub strives to be a popular nightspot on the east side of town, not just for kirtan, but also for music, dance, and art.

its inaugural fundraiser event last night featured wah! and girish, both of whom got their start locally, eventually becoming global sensations. it was hosted by DJ avi of naked rhythm, a world music group whose album, frequency, is guaranteed to get everyone on their feet and dancing to its infectious beat. proceeds from the evening were to benefit charitywater.org, an organization that helps bring clean drinking water to developing nations.

unlike his usual kirtans where he chants from his seat on a classroom floor, girish performed rockstar-style, standing while alternately playing his harmonium and guitar. he was accompanied by marti walker on vocals, dave allen on percussion, abby scoville on cello, and a bass player whose name escapes me (shame on me!).

wah! then took the stage with a handful of lovely yoginis going through sequences of poses on the stage while she and her musicians belted out a compilation of soulful chants from her recently-released albums.

while the musicians performed on stage, videos and light shows were projected throughout the room to provide additional visual stimulation. a vegetarian food stand and a drink bar were located by the entrance to satisfy the late-night munchies. there were massages, tarot readings, and art exhibits to entertain the guests. tables, couches and throw pillows were strategically placed around the central dancefloor, allowing everyone to do whatever it was that they wanted to do, whether it was to eat, dance, or just lounge around to take it all in.

spotted chanting and schmoozing last night were some of the who's-who of the local yoga community, including the producer of bhakti fest, the editor of LA yoga magazine, the director of yogamates.com, other musicians, a good number of yoga instructors, as well as yours truly :)

the official grand opening concert at the kali klub will be held this coming FRIDAY, dec 4th at 7pm. it will feature kirtan superstars jai uttal, larisa stow & the shakti tribe, and naked rhythm, with DJ avi once again hosting the evening. tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and can be purchased through the kali klub website: http://kaliklub.com/eventstickets.html.

get your tickets now; you won't want to miss this big event!


Anonymous Nidi Jai said...

Yoga can be innovative any many ways.

4:08 AM  

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