Where to rave in China
Dance music of all kinds has never been more popular all over the world. From superstars like Rihanna doing tracks with DJ’s like Calvin Harris, to the rise in popularity of all kinds of electronic music in the pop charts, via the explosion of rave culture influencing everything from fashion to television, it’s a pretty good time for clubbers in whatever country you live in. And China is no different in that respect, in fact, it has one of the most rapidly developing dance music scenes probably in the world today, and not just for chest thumping EDM or bro-step, but for the perhaps more respected but less commercially successful house and techno producers, DJ’s, and clubs currently dotted all around its infinite web of city streets.
Through access to banned social media like Facebook and Soundcloud via Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s) and the influx of Dakou CD’s (black market CD’s with banned Western music on them), China has been more exposed than ever to the sounds of European dance music, which in turn has influenced a younger generation of Chinese ravers; alongside an eager expat community, to build a budding dance music scene complete with thriving clubs and regular niche nights. To help you discover your perfect Chinese raving experience, we’ve compiled a quick guide, exploring each cities best clubs, record labels and DJ’s currently residing in them.
Although China’s capital was once considered to be the epicenter of dance music in the country, its influence has recently waned slightly, and it’s now perhaps been overtaken by more prominent cities like Shanghai and Chengdu. Nonetheless, it’s still host to some of the best clubs for dance music in the country, like the hugely influential Club DADA, Club Lantern and the INTRO festival; now in its ninth year, which is one of the first ever electronic only music festivals ever held in China.
The festival is organized by DOT Records, who, alongside labels like Dohits and DJ’s like DJ Kaize, BB Deng, Howie Lee, and WengWeng (who also co-owns Club Lantern), are at the forefront of Beijing house, techno and experimental electronic music.
With a huge expat population and its close ties with the UK, it’s no surprise that Hong Kong has begun to embrace the types of dance music that have been integral to Britain’s recent cultural output. The main area for clubs playing deep house, techno and everything in between is Wyndham Street, which is where you can find places like OMA, Social Room, XXX and The Basement.
With its licensing laws having always been slightly more relaxed than mainland China, parties regularly go on for longer and more regularly than other cities on this list, although that is being tightened up by the Chinese government more and more in recent times.
Up there with one of the best cities in Asia for underground dance music at the moment, Shanghai is arguably the best place to go in China for bass heavy music. With a heady cocktail of fervent local crowds and enthusiastic expats, the crowds here are more receptive to boundary pushing sounds than perhaps in other parts of the country, and that’s reflected in its eclectic roster of DJ’s that play anything from reggae to grime to deep house to dubstep to techno.
Shanghainese DJ’s like MHP, Swimful, DJ Ben Huang and B6 can be regularly found packing out clubs like DADA, Arkham and The Shelter; a former WW2 bomb shelter turned notoriously hot and atmospheric party spot, not to mention the long range of international DJ’s that have graced the burgeoning city like Levon Vincent and Surgeon to name a few
Chengdu may not be as well known as other cities on this list, but in terms of musical output it is one of the most forward thinking and exciting as any in China, and although it has only emerged in the last four years or so as a place to go to for bass heavy music, it is now seen by many to be the house and techno capital of the country.
Clubs like HereWeGo and Tiaga are all known to bring international DJ’s to play alongside local residents like Marco Ruits and Xioalong, the former of which was also integral to the creation of another Chengdu house and techno hotspot, TAG. Known as probably one of the best clubs for underground dance music in China with a more European feel to it than most others in the country, it brings one of the most authentic raving experiences available, complete with a pool to jump into if you get too sweaty.