I’ve gone months now without writing in here at all, largely because of a lack of travel. After having been mainly located in Chengdu for several years now, it’s become increasingly rare that I find something new and inspiring to write about, but a recent trip back to Chongqing has me somewhat rejuvenated. The show was at Falling Club again, which is a club that has never failed to draw a full house before, but I was skeptical this time because the party was on a Sunday night. I can’t remember the last time I’ve DJ’d anywhere on a Sunday, but lo and behold, Falling Club in 解放碑 (Freedom Square in the center of Chongqing) was active as ever, and the club was a roadblock. The gig itself didn’t live up to the glory of the previous Saturday night that I was there, but it was fairly epic when I was able to play trip hop for 30 minutes before finishing. In most cities and clubs the bosses would insist on me not being too adventurous with the playlist, but Chongqing stands apart.
Before the beginning of my set there was a fashion show inside the club. I’d seen this only once before at Buzz in Washington DC and didn’t expect to see anything like that. The first thing that clued me in were all the photographers with big cameras and flashes constantly flickering – and then the six foot tall Chinese model. I didn’t get to see much of the show as I was in the “green room” (also janitorial closet) with Afeng the promoter, rolling joints and talking about the night. When the fashion show ended and the stage was disassembled in moments and I opened with DJ Krush. There was a camera and spotlight on the booth, but the great part was that the images from the camera were projected all around the club on projectors. Glimpsing at the projected images of me around the club was like looking into a mirror. Twice in the middle of my set I was told to turn the music down so an MC could speak. Turns out the MC was really announcing lottery numbers for consolation prizes offered by the sponsor. So, in the middle of people dancing, the music stops and the MC runs through a quick dialogue/commercial for Chivas before reading off long numbers to have people come to the front of the club to collect prizes, the crown of which was a bottle of Chivas so large it wouldn’t fit on a table and had to be seated on a tripod. The promoter dragged me into a smelly stall in the toilet after the show to give me the cash. No idea why it was such a secretive affair, but I got out of there and hit a few other clubs before passing out in my hotel after chatting with Preemo on googletalk.
The next day I caught up with Fu, my favorite friend in Chongqing. I don’t think I’ve written about Fu, but he’s an old friend of Sascha’s to whom I was introduced 18 months ago or so. He’s a friendly local music aficionado who has a shop in Ëß£ÊîæÂåó that sells art and music. Learning to understand what he’s saying has taken me a while to become even fairly proficient at; he speaks quickly and in a lot of local dialect which I don’t study. Most Chinese people make an effort to speak more clearly to foreigners knowing that mandarin isn’t our native language, but Fu doesn’t subscribe to this practice and instead raps away about whatever is on his mind. It couldn’t be better practice for listening comprehension, and this trip was the first time I’d ever really had long conversations and understood everything. Hanging out in the evening with him and two of his friends, Dong Dong and Xiao Lu, we smoked joints (they are passionate hash smokers), drank beer, and chatted in the Irish bar. I heard a story about their unified and perilous mission to import a Skid Row record in 1987, them hearing a guitar effects pedal for the first time and freaking out not knowing where that sound was coming from, to plans for a 30,000 person party headlined by Paul Van Dyk in Chongqing later this year.
I wasn’t too anxious to return to Chengdu but I have to make sure that posters and fliers for the party this weekend get handled (Downtempo Pilots (Dave and I) this Saturday at the Hemp House).
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the next trip to Chongqing.