By Izzy Churchill
Cultural producer and public personality Ryan Lanji has been a mainstay of London’s creative industries for over a decade, infusing his unique mix of activism and eclecticism into the city’s cultural landscape through the medium of both events and exhibits. Regarded as one of the most politically pioneering LGBTQ+ activists in London, Lanji’s work has centred on decolonisation as its central aim. This theme is particularly evident in his new show, The Big Proud Party Agency, airing this month on BBC Three.
Shaking up venues from the V&A to Soho House since 2016, Lanji’s creation of HUNGAMA has blown open a space for the South Asian Queer community to join together in an environment that is both invigorating and nurturing. Now touted as the ‘Indian Studio 54’ and featured in The Guardian, Dazed and Vogue, Lanji’s vision of rethinking London’s unnecessarily exclusive nightlife into an altogether more accessible and inclusive affair has undeniably been achieved. For the past six years, the capital's youngest and brightest creatives have been sharing and enjoying this treasured event accompanied by the sounds of Bollywood layered with hip-hop and electro beats. Underpinning Ryan’s determination to shakeup London’s nightlife is the literal definition of hungama, which in Hindi can be taken to mean ‘Chaos’ or ‘Heat’. In this atmosphere, a reincarnation of the industry can occur, placing decolonisation at the heart of London’s nightlife as well as the vaguer cultural and music scenes of the capital.
Ryan also places importance on decolonising the wellness industry, seen with ‘NDY: Not Dead Yet’, a collective of his creation that combines a luxury gym experience with a non-threatening space for POC trans and non-binary individuals. Decolonising the fitness industry is indispensable for the wellness of POC, as even in queer environments it can be difficult to navigate as facilitation is not always readily enforced with trauma and body dysmorphia still unfortunately often prevalent. A cause deep to Lanji’s heart, he believes that for QPOC, wellness and meaningful exercise is a fundamental step in the radical protest against various forms of oppression the community faces.
As the winner of Netflix’s ‘The Big Flower Fight’ in 2020, Lanji has quickly become accustomed to the power and social importance of television. Ryan will return to our screens on 29th June in The Big Proud Party Agency on BBC Three. Showcasing his pioneering brand of queer decolonised celebration, Lanji will be followed, along with businesswoman Teddy Edwardes and party architect, Christopher Mills as they organise events for a ‘party star’ with something important to commemorate. With his background in diversity and inclusion, the programme is granted an authentic voice who understands the diasporic needs of visibility without tokenisation.