The pandemic has changed China’s nightclubs
GETTING INTO Zhao Dai, an underground nightclub in a fashionable part of Beijing, involves a little more faff than it once did. Party animals must prove that they have not travelled anywhere they might have picked up covid-19, by showing doormen a code generated by a government mobile app. Once inside, however, the smoke-filled basement is just as sweaty as usual. On a recent Saturday a hundred unmasked revellers bopped to techno tunes. No one bothered to maintain social distancing while dancing.
The pandemic posed an enormous threat to China’s fragile club scene. Nightspots in Beijing were forced to shut in January. They did not reopen properly until August. Yet many electronic-music clubs have weathered the disruption, in part because punters freed from lockdown have flocked back to them. A bouncer eyeing the crowd at Zhao Dai says it is as busy as it was before the closures. Michael Ohlsson, the American owner of Dada, another Beijing club, says his business will probably break even this year, despite being closed for much of its first half.
The pandemic has wrought changes, nonetheless. Nightspots have long felt it necessary to fly in fashionable foreign DJs to help them draw crowds. As a result Chinese performers have always had to make do with supporting slots, says Huang Hongli, a DJ who uses the stage name of Hotwill. Now they have no choice but to give locals a chance to shine. This summer Zhao Dai held an outdoor festival, attended by 3,000 people. The 40 DJs who performed there were all Chinese.
A second effect of the pandemic has been to help speed up the spread of China’s club culture beyond its traditional bases in Beijing, Shanghai and the south-western city of Chengdu. When nightclubs closed at the start of the year Mr Huang chose to leave the capital and return to Xiamen, his hometown south of Shanghai, in part because of its lower cost of living. There he helped to launch the city’s first underground nightspot, which opened in April. This year’s closures gave Mr Ohlsson more time to plan the opening of a new club in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province.
Not everyone is happy. Ezzz, a Chinese DJ and music producer, grumbles that many of the DJs who have gained new followings during the pandemic are proficient performers but do not “understand electronic music culture”. Mr Huang looks forward to a time when a few more foreigners can enter the country; he thinks some exposure to trends from abroad is good for the local scene. As for the audience, few seem to care much who is performing, so long as they have somewhere to dance. Lea Liao, a Beijinger who attended Zhao Dai’s summer festival, says she struggled to see the stage because of all the gyrating bodies. “But I could hear the music, and that is all that matters.”
This article appeared in the China section of the print edition under the headline "A different beat"
Author: | Post link: https://www.economist.com/china/2020/12/12/the-pandemic-has-changed-chinas-nightclubs
Selected by fonecable.com
- Markets Week Ahead: Dow Jones, Gold, EUR/USD, ECB, USD/CAD, BoC, Treasury Yields
- NEWS: Black Sunday for crypto as bitcoin and others plunge April 18, 2021 at 03:37PM
- NEWS: Goldman Sachs says it’s time to buy the euro April 18, 2021 at 02:40PM
- Bitcoin falls 11.1% to $53,356
- Dow Jones May Aim Higher, Backed by Earnings and Robust Data