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Disco, House and Techno


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Break dancing was popular across China in the late 1980s and early 1990s, partly because of Michael Jackson (who performed in Taipei in 1995). Discotheques followed in the early 1990s. Across China nightlife consists of restaurants, night clubs (with variety shows), discotheques and karaoke.

  • In Beijing, the first large discotheques such as the Rock and Roll, Babyface, Nightman and NASA were run by ex-cops who had the right connections to survive crack-downs.
  • These discotheques typically cater to groups that rent a table by ordering a bottle of liquor (usually whiskey) which comes with soft drinks (usually iced tea), ice cubes and sometimes a fruit platter.
  • Most discotheques play foreign house and remixes of Chinese pop songs. Some play hiphop, urban and latin.
  • DJ’s in discotheques rarely see themselves as artists. They don’t record their own remixes and don’t play at other places or festivals.
  • The mixes of DJ Shitou became a big hit on line in 2011 because of his hilarious MC-ing, parodying official sounding voices, foul language, random shouts and poor English.


Club Culture

  • DJ’s in clubs see themselves as artists. They build up their repertoire, make recordings and their names feature prominently in the promotion of the event. These events are also more likely to include a cover charge, comparable to live houses in rock music.
  • In 1997 the Swiss China-based organization Cheese (Michael & Philip) organized the first rave on the Great Wall. The same year the radio DJ Zhang Youdai started hosting techno parties in his bar Keep in Touch and the guitar player Wengweng started organizing and performing at club nights. In 2001, DJ Wengweng set-up the party organization China Pump Factory with DJ Yang Bing and the Briton Will. The organization hosted shows in the larger discotheques and one at the Great Wall. With club 88 this music style had a place of its own.
  • In Guangdong, club culture was promoted almost singlehandedly by Michael Neebing. Neebing took part in a Modern Asia International Music Fair in Hong Kong in 1996 which began a close relationship with Hong Kong-France independent dance music label Technasia. In 2001, Neebing organized a series of parties for Future Mix in Guangzhou’s first dance music club called FACE.
  • In the first few years many people visited the clubs and a number of foreign DJ’s visited. However, after the initial hype faded, the development of club culture in China slowed down and a number of clubs shut down, including a host of Zhang Youdai’s venues (Cloud 9) and Club 88. In 2012 there are five places in Beijing that regularly organize DJ nights, two of which are underground basements. Foreigners still make up a substantial part of the audience, organizers and DJs. In short, as of yet club culture has not been able yet to profit of the success of discotheques.  
  • Local party organizations include Wasabi Sound, Acupuncture Records, Cheese and the China Pump Factory.
  • Local DJ’s include Yang Bing, Ben Huang and Mickey Zhang. Jerry Lo is a well-known Taiwanese DJ.


For the complete chapter please download the PDF below