It was the year of The Beatles, The Kinks, The Shadows and The Rolling Stones.
But a Huddersfield resident has discovered that rock was not the only type of music enjoying its heyday in 1968 after he took on an ambitious project to uncover the roots of Britain’s Bhangra scene.
And whilst many may think the heartland of the genre was in Birmingham and Southall, University of Huddersfield researcher and former masters’ student, Hardeep Singh Sahota, has proven that the town played a recognisable part in the south Asian cultural revolution, in his new book Bhangra: Mystics, Music and Migration.
It is the culmination of a lifelong family passion for Hardeep, who got involved with Bhangra whilst growing up in Huddersfield and was influenced by his grandfather.
A dance that originated from the Punjab region that was first performed by hardworking farmers to celebrate the harvest cycle, Bhangra was brought to England amidst the first wave of mass Indian immigration.
He decided to explore the genre in a bid to collect the masses of unwritten memories which surround it after completing his masters’ degree and gaining Heritage Lottery funding to set up a project, named Bhangra Renaissance.
He said: “Very little academic research has been done into the area so I saw a challenge with it.
“Bhangra was quite a revolution not just in big cities around England but also in Huddersfield.”
He began to collect oral histories from people in the local area with other members of his voluntary community group, Virsa before broadening their scope to cover regional, British and international stories.
It was through this research that he discovered that Huddersfield was the birthplace of one of the oldest Sikh cultural and Bhangra groups in the country, which burst onto the scene in 1968.
Hardeep said: “It was amazing to unearth photos and archives and talk to some of the members.
“Some young people got together to create the group and performed at Huddersfield and Leeds town halls.
“It was just one of the interesting aspects I discovered as I explored how Bhangra used to be performed and how it has evolved.
“Growing up I didn’t even know about this group or these stories so its nice to be able to share them through the Bhangra renaissance project.”
Far from being cast into history books, the scene has experienced a large renaissance since the mid 2000s, especially through universities and has been entwined with rock and hip-hop elements.
It has allowed Hardeep and his team to get even more people to take part in and celebrate the dance and even launch the first world Bhangra day.
He said: “Bhangra has always been popular but we have seen a resurgence.
“It used to be performed with a doll-drummer in the middle and dancers moving around him with ankle bells on- they’re some of these nuances that have vanished over time and been replaced with others.
“We get people from all cultures coming to learn the dance at the university, there’s a real shared heritage between communities through it.
“And through World Bhangra Day we got ambassadors for the dance from around the world but also had a live link with school children in New Mexico, and would love to see people dancing Bhangra together across the world.”
He now hopes to begin a PHD and continue the project by possibly creating documentaries alongside other ideas.