Together, We’re Unstoppable
Meet Ryan Lanji – curator, TV personality and the founder of Hungama, responsible for giving London’s POC LGBTQ+ community a home to be fearless and free. Hungama (Hindi for chaos, heat and excitement) is a Bollywood club night with an open ended guestlist for anyone who would like to join. Fusing South Asian sounds with fashion and art, it’s an ever growing family of friends and queer role models collectively pushing society forwards through the power of love, fun and unity. This is Ryan Lanji’s personal take on community building, a celebration of identity and self-empowerment.
We came across Ryan after he designed his own pair of Air Max for Nike By You, and we’re so glad we did. He’s earned some forever fans right here. Keen to get to know him that bit better, we met up over video chat to discuss finding your tribe and embracing what it means to be a leading force for real, positive change.
The Moment Everything Changed
London is one of the most diverse cities in the world – but, until recent times, its clubbing scene hasn’t always reflected that. Enter, Hungama! A new home for London’s POC LGBTQ+ community to celebrate their roots and be free.
“I started Hungama because I noticed that, after ten years of living in London, within the fashion, arts and queer and gay clubbing scenes, no one really looked like me. I felt like I’d lost my South Asian heritage, to a degree, so I was hellbent on bringing it to life in the form of a Bollywood party at places like Dalston Superstore where everyone and anyone would be welcome to join and be unapologetically themselves. The first night that I put on was like a thirst being quenched after being in the Sahara Desert for too long – it just needed to happen. Now Hungama is over four-hundred queer Asians who are out, proud and creative, partying together in one room.”
"It takes courage putting yourself out there, but it will transform your life for the better."
We’re An Army Of Outsiders
Feeling like an outsider can give you the time and space needed to understand yourself more greatly and think up powerful ideas. Harness this, and you’ll go far – and maybe, like Ryan, you’ll inspire others along the way.
“Being an outsider allows you to have a unique perspective that no one else has – because, rather than becoming complacent, you’re forced to create and fill that sense of not belonging with something else. Andy Warhol was an outsider, and then he became the glue and the facilitator of all of this amazing culture in '80s New York by bringing people together and defining a scene... And that’s exactly what I want to do with Hungama. I want to bring together a mosaic of South Asian kids, photograph them, document them and propel them forward – so that no matter where they go in their lives, they go further than they ever dreamed. And when we look back, it all started at this one place.”
The Power Of Community
You’re never alone. There are always others out there who share the same values as you, so if there’s something you feel passionately about, follow your heart, speak your truth and make it happen. Because together, you’ll be unstoppable.
“Community is fundamental for pushing society forward. I think if there’s just one of you, you can feel alone, if there's two of you, you can feel connected – but if there's a group of you, you can make a movement. If you can create an event, fill a room or make a statement with a group, others will take notice and listen. And that’s when you can start to change other people’s minds. Being part of a community is a homecoming of sorts – it’s a safety net which allows you to heal, grow and be whoever you want to be.”
Finding Your Tribe
Love yourself and be compassionate, and the rest will follow.
“My words of encouragement to those who feel like they don't belong is, don't be scared to leave your house and turn left and meet people. Be excited about your future and the possibilities of it, and don’t forget to love yourself. It wasn't until I created Hungama that I started to feel this way about myself, and so all I can say is the earlier on you do this, the faster your confidence will grow. It takes courage putting yourself out there (trust me, I know!), but it will transform your life for the better, and evermore.”
Want more from Ryan? Read his advice on forming your own creative community via the link below.
Note: Ryan’s club nights are currently on pause, due to UK governmental COVID 19 restrictions. However, stay tuned for the latest from Hungama on their Instagram channel @hungama_ldn