Border Movement: Electronic Music's Rise in Kolkata, India

Courtesy: Pixabay
Courtesy: Pixabay
Photo of Sridevi Nambiar
2 March 2017

While Kolkata’s electronic music scene is burgeoning, it has been slower to grip the city than it has in Mumbai, Pune, or New Delhi. However, the launch of Border Movement Lounge, a music platform for showcasing underground electronic music artists from South Asia, has given the city’s music scene the boost it was lacking.

The Border Movement, based in Berlin, is a platform for increased interaction between the electronic music scenes of South Asia and Germany. Launched by the Goeth Institute in Sri Lanka, the movement aims to showcase the best of artists, trends, and more from each region to the other, while also encouraging and enabling collaboration.

Taking up spaces from unused heritage buildings to abandoned factories, the lounge offers unique, carefully curated, and immersive music experiences in a city where the nightlife is mostly restricted to run-of-the-mill club nights and the occasional large concert. While its counterparts like Mumbai and New Delhi have been witnessing the rise of interesting underground music movements and cultural spaces, contemporary Kolkata—in spite of it being the unofficial moniker as the cultural capital of India—has shown a lag in embracing alternate artistic and cultural movements.

The first edition of the Border Movement Lounge in Kolkata took place at the historic Burdwan Palace in Alipore in 2014, and there’s been no looking back since. The lounge has been held in the city several times since—at the abandoned Hooghly Jute Mill, the historic but now-shut Gem Cinema, and at the heritage property Magnet House, among others. Performers over the years include an impressive collection of German and South Asian artists, including DJ Sunara from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Kolkata’s very own Deep Brown and 8-Bit Culprit.

The Border Movement Lounge has carved a role for itself as a cultural catalyst and a space for flow of ideas and trends that extend beyond electronic music. At the moment, the lounge is hosted in 14 cities across South Asia and Germany—Bangalore, Berlin, Chennai, Colombo, Cologne, Dhaka, Hamburg, Kabul, Karachi, Kolkata, Lahore, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Pune.