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“Global Dance Party” featuring Balkan Beat Box

Sheik your booty: Mid-East meets dancehall at Brooklyn Bridge Park dance party

The Brooklyn Paper
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They’re putting the band back together.

The international groove maestros of Balkan Beat Box will open this season’s “Celebrate Booklyn!” dance party series with a free show in Brooklyn Bridge Park on May 8 — bringing their brand of high-energy, “immigrant music with attitude” to the stage for the first time in two years, a band member said.

For the group, which formed in New York City in 2003 and has since been scattered across the globe recording and working on other projects, the Brooklyn show is a homecoming.

“Right now we’re wherever we need to be, but we’re still New Yorkers at heart,” said saxophonist and founding member Ori Kaplan, who has done stints in Brooklyn band Firewater and popular gypsy punk group Gogol Bordello.

The collective blends Balkan “gypsy” music, hip-hop, electronica, and dancehall for a pan-geographic sound where Klezmer horn hooks transition into Reggaeton breaks.

Kaplan and band co-founder Tamir Muskat both hail from Israel and were informed by the nation’s eclectic mix of cultures, but Balkan Beat Box found its full voice in New York — where Kaplan said the confluence of cultures is unmatched.

“When you walk down the street, you hear everything from Puerto Rican music to Punjabi,” he said. “We incorporate that — we’re like a New York soundtrack.”

Kaplan said the Balkan Beat Box’s unique sound resonates outside of typical world music circles. He recalled the band’s last set at the Prospect Park Bandshell, where an elderly Jamaican man with a limp ditched his cane and busted a move to the band’s rhythms.

“The Caribbean community really connects to our music,” he said.

The dance party, which is organized by Bric Arts, will also feature DJ Joro-Boro, a Bulgarian-born mix master who trades in a similar fusion of global music styles. Before the show, there will also be a belly dancing lesson from Manhattan mid-section whirlers Dance Of Venus.

Kaplan, who is currently in Vienna, Austria, said he is already excited to get back to Brooklyn.

“They’re our home crowd,” he said.

“Global Dance Party” at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1 [Old Fulton Street at Furman Street in Dumbo, bricartsmedia.org). May 8 at 7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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