I’m in Chongqing now, enjoying a full day here after a gig I had last night at a club called Falling. The show itself was somewhat of an affirmation after several mediocre club gigs, that every once and a while things will get out of hand (in a good way) and I’ll have an unforgettable time.
The promoter that I came to Chongqing with is named Duncan, but Sascha and I started calling him Egon, from Ghostbusters, and Beaker, from Sesame Street. Yesterday on our way to Chongqing he told me something which stuck with me for a few hours; he said that in Chongqing people especially like tech house. This immediately drew suspicion and excitement from me because it’s not ordinarily the kind of music that I’m encouraged to play by sponsors, because of the “what is this” reaction it often garners from a less-educated and close-minded foreign crowd. Happily that was anything but the case last night as Egon was exactly right. I played an hour of tech house and the place was going nuts, and played an hour of breaks afterwards, a lot of Autobots, and Aquasky, and general Botchit-style beats. I was surprised at how well accepted the selection was, it being as fringe as it is in Western China, but it absolutely could not have gone any better. I recently finished developing a t-shirt design which I spent a few months working on, because I think that throwing shirts out during the show would be a big hit. That suspicion was also confirmed when the club brought some white shirts with their logo on them to the booth where I signed them and threw them into the crowd. Before I threw them out I held them up as everyones hands raised and eyes opened; an incredible feeling, but it’ll feel better when they’re the shirts that I’ve been envisioning. The gig itself was near the top, definitely along with the first incredible show that I had in China, last summer in Xian.
Before the show I met a friend of Sascha’s named Fu who’s a local musician who has a shop which sells music and framed artwork – I’ll try to go back there tonight to pick up some pieces which I was eyeing yesterday afternoon. There’s a workshop here as well which I’m told must be seen, and is along the same lines as the lab that some of us in Chengdu have been¬†thinking about starting¬†for a long time. Lastly, and most recently..
I was taken to a part of Chongqing called Shi Ba Ti, which means 18 Steps. Chongqing is an unusually hilly city with varied topography, but one descent is very special. It’s the site where a deep tunnel was dug during the second world war for Chinese citizens to hide from Japanese bombs being dropped on what was then the capitol of Western China. 4,000 people scurried into the hole during a Japanese attack on Chongqing as countless more flooded to the hole of the tunnel to find a way inside where they thought they would be safe from falling bombs. Chaos ensued and those who rushed inside seeking safe haven were suffocated, leaving a tunnel kilometers deep filled with thousands of bodies. The tunnel remains in the same place, closed by a sobering rusty gate which keeps any would-be occupants out, but is a constant source of cold air which emerges from deep inside the tunnel. During the hot summer months, hundreds gather in front of the tunnel to enjoy the breeze while drinking tea, playing chess, and spending time with their families. Truly an incredible site with an incredible history.