This afternoon I got a call from a stranger who turned out to be the owner of a new club which opened tonight, called Sofa. It’s directly between two well known venues in Chengdu, one being Jah Bar and the other being a real swanky lounge called Nanuna (which hosted the barbeque party that I threw at the end of the summer). The call was an invitation to come to the club tonight, meet the guys who run it, and have a drink with them and talk about future opportunities. I showed up at the club around 10:30pm and was instantly impressed. Although it’s very similar to Nanuna and shares many of the same swank-lounge qualities, it has its own vibe and was already filled to capacity with people. I came into the evening expecting to relax, have a drink, and check out a new venue in town while getting to know the people who run it which is always advantageous, whether I cooperate directly with them or not. Turns out, they wanted me to play tonight; and didn’t tell me about this idea until I arrived after 10pm.
Certain things are involved with me accepting gigs here, the two most important of which are equipment and funds. The venue, being a lounge, wasn’t equipped with a proper DJ booth and had a pair of DJ CD players (which I don’t use; turntables are in my rider) which meant that I’d have to return home and grab a significant amount of equipment, return to the club, set it up, and start immediately. I imagine only DJs would understand the hassle involved with this. They agreed to pay the amount that I asked and they arranged a driver to escort me home, nab the equipment and head right back, so that’s what I did.
After arriving back at the club and setting the equipment up, I started immediately. One of the most interesting and alluring facets of this gig was style of the venue. They don’t play loud music. The place is filled with wealthy locals puffing on cigars and drinking brandy. I played mostly downtempo, some lighter hip hop, and some world music. Basically, music that I really enjoy listening to in my free time. This is in fairly stark contrast to the majority of my gigs in which I’m playing in a club with a dance floor and play more accessible, socially-acceptable dance music. It went well though, in the sense that everyone was relaxed, lucid, and having a good time; not in the drunk and dancing incontrollable sense. This is a refreshing feeling when you feel like you DJ for nothing but drunk people who are accustomed to hearing what in my opinion, is exceptionally poor music. You have to step inside a Chinese club to understand.
After playing for about 90 minutes, I stepped down and the resident DJ played a bunch of 2pac back to back. The owner made arrangements to bring me back in 3 days and insisted that we should talk about me hosting a weekly party at the venue, to which I will most likely agree with the condition that it falls between Monday and Thursday. This isn’t the interesting part though:
As soon as I get ready to pack up my equipment a girl approaches me and invites me to come to her table and have a drink with her and her friends. This proposition is anything but extraordinary, but after sitting down it’s evident that the girl is on a path to being completely drunk. Soon she’s leaning all over me, yelling into my ear, half of which I can barely understand (she’s speaking in slurred Chinese). I asked her to repeat what she said several times before I just said fuck it and stopped trying to understand. Before long she’s asking me to teach her English, to which I reply that I’m not an English teacher. I understand that her request is not literal, and nod and smile “okay, great” and we toast as she clinks her glass into mine so vigorously that whiskey spills all over my left pant leg. She reaches for tissues and knocks over another drink, which spills onto my right pant leg.
Seriously, it gets worse from here.
Not much time passes before she grabs me and drags me off the couch. Everyone around the table is looking at her to see what she’ll do next, as am I. She says she needs to talk to me about something, so she drags me across the room to the bathroom. Meanwhile it’s 2am and most of the people between the table and the bathroom are watching her march me across the room. We get to the bathroom and as I have no idea what to expect, and she pulls out her wallet. There must have been 2,000 yuan (about US$250) in the wallet which amounts to a fat wad of Chinese currency. She pulls out a few bills at random and pushes them into my chest. Of course I can’t accept the money, whatever she thinks it’s for, and I refuse. She makes a huge scene. Embarrassed and not knowing what to do, I take the money, say thank you, and we return to the table. Reluctantly, I hand her my business card. Now I’m thinking that she might see the card tomorrow and have a vague memory of what happened, but maybe not.
I left shortly afterwards, along with my roommate Wu who helped me carry my record bag as I took the heavy and cumbersome turntable case out of the club and loaded it into the back of a taxi. Another interesting night.
Tomorrow should be interesting as well, aside from me hopefully making progress on the visa front, there’s an out-of-town rave with Christopher Lawrence (famous trance DJ from Los Angeles). Not to mention the first party at Wu’s club, which I’ll play drum & bass at. Should be fun times.