DROP IT LIKE IT’S HOT
THE RISE OF BEIJING’S DJ SCENE
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and for the most part, it might be true. This old dog was raised on blistering guitars, pounding drums, and screechy vocals. He has no understanding of what happens when people just hide behind headsets and press play.
In the past year, I’ve spent more time than ever lurking in the back listening to people spin, get a crowd going, take them through the paces with different rhythms, songs and all. I’d be blind to not realize that it’s a culture of its own.
Now mind you, with all due respect to big clubs, I’m going to focus here on a more underground approach to the whole electronic scene in the Old Smoggy. Where are they dropping it like it’s hot?
Dada: Whether you’re into this scene or not, you can’t escape the name “Dada” in this town. They’ve carved themselves a substantial size of the pie with regular programming for years now. We’ve had White Rabbit and all before, places that came by, fought and fell, but Dada came in punching and got this done. For an ignoramus like me, as far as the DJ scene in Beijing goes, I’d argue that there’s a pre-Dada and post-Dada era. Big and small names, everyone has gone in at some point to take a look. Why don’t you do that on October 28 when they host Alessandro Adriani from Mannequin or November 9 when Detroit legend, DJ Bone, is in the house?
Also in the vicinity, Fruity Space is lurking not so quietly. Always accommodating to artists trying to do their own weird thing, it’s pumping out electronic and/or experimental music all the time. You might catch a live band every so often there, but the Spartan Spice is really prime for experimenting and spinning. Check their social media feeds for the latest & greatest.
Soi Baochao seems to have risen from the dead recently. It feels like the venue just went on an extended hibernation a few years back, but all of a sudden decided to shake off the dust and start kicking ass.
Modern Sky Lab has recently beefed up their electronic DJ side and that should not come as a surprise. Their label has a few artists signed up and a beautiful setup that works for both live bands and DJs. Acts vary greatly but they are consistent.
Then, the big newcomer: Zhao Dai Club. This place, with a capacity of 300, launched on September 30 with a bang fitting the pedigree of the owners: People involved in Yugong Yishan, White Rabbit, and Haze. Lu Zhi Qiang (more often known to industry pundits as Gouzi) mentioned, “We wanted to give electronic music enthusiasts a unique sound experience. That’s why a well-curated program, with national and international DJs is crucial to us. We focus on underground DJs from various electronic music genres.”
Go check it out on October 28 when they host Lena Willikens from Germany.
Of course, plenty of other places are dabbling in the DJ scene including Caravan which recently launched a reggae & roots-focused open mic on Thursday, so, even if the old dog can’t learn new tricks, it can still watch others perform them.
Badr Benjelloun spins to the beat of his