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San Francisco’s newest plan to resurrect downtown involves Indian dancing

Partygoers enjoy at Non Stop Bhangra dance event in San Francisco. | Courtesy Odell Hussey of Non Stop Bhangra | Source: Courtesy Odell Hussey of Non Stop Bhangra

A new Indian-themed night market is set to come to Downtown San Francisco this May, offering authentic South Asian food and alongside art, music and dancing.

The Bhangra and Beats Night Market, which will take place over three city blocks centered on Battery and Clay streets, will make its debut on Friday, May 12, from 5 to 10 p.m. More than 20 vendors—including Valencia Street’s Lahore Di Khushboo, Union Square’s New Delhi Restaurant and forthcoming retail shop House of Jefas—will participate.

Bhangra is a popular form of dancing and music in the Punjab area of Northern India, which is different from the more well-known Bollywood style dancing.

Katy Birnbaum, one of the organizers and the founder of Into the Streets, a cultural production studio, said the idea of the night market comes from the pandemic shutdown, when people started to realize the importance of opening streets for outdoor events.

“It’s the place for the community to gather, have economic opportunities, health and wellness opportunities, and revitalize our city,” she said.

Birnbaum, who’s partially of Indian descent, also wants to promote bhangra, a high-energy folk dance. In that vein, the night market will partner with local dance party producer Non Stop Bhangra, as well as with the urbanist nonprofit Livable City.

People in traditional Indian attire are dancing joyfully at night on a city street.
A celebrants dance at a Non Stop Bhangra event in San Francisco. | Courtesy Odell Hussey of Non Stop Bhangra | Source: Courtesy Odell Hussey of Non Stop Bhangra

The night market has also won support from Mayor London Breed, who has been working to revive the economic fortunes of San Francisco’s depopulated downtown core. Bhangra and Beats will occupy a footprint at the periphery of the Financial District, just west of the Embarcadero Center.

"Events like this are an important part of the vision my administration has laid out for the future of Downtown,” Breed said in a statement. “I’m proud to have invested in creative projects like this that bring new vibrancy to our streets and businesses.”

After the initial market in mid-May, the event is scheduled to return every other month, on July 14 and Sept. 8. Birnbaum said she hopes it becomes an annual tradition starting next year.

Separately, San Francisco officials are working on a potential Asian-style night market in the Sunset District for this summer.

Han Li can be reached at