Monday, December 3, 2007

Beijing Dance Party . . . now, with 60% MORE INTERNATIONAL HIPSTERS!

After a mediocre meal at a mediocre Sichuan restaurant with two boring local girls that Jonah and I had met a few nights back, Dad, Frank (our host here in Beijing, more on Frank being an angel in disguise as a couchsurfing host later) and Frank's Chinese/Japanese cousin Ivan (quiet and mysterious - is he Chinese? Japanese? Lying? Nobody knows . . .) decided to hit the sack and cab it back to our collective pad. Jonah and I, however, were very interested in a promising local rock night at a club somewhere, somehow, in deep Beijing. So after a brief battle with an over-excitable and totally agro itty bitty Chihuahua, J and I had a hysterical cab ride to some nightclub district in this increasingly marvelous city. The district was instantly noticeable by its enormous (maybe 2 stories high) Art Deco neon DRIVE IN sign. Not art-deco, but Artistic Decorative. Second amazing touch was that the road from the highway to the collection of spots to dine and dance was a small winding dirt road with electrically lit-up trees scattershot throughout the woods. Not too many, but just enough to make the trip, from urban highway into magickal blue-lined wooden glade, to expansive swankville nightclub-and-resto-district. The atmospheric shift was impressive. We found the club, paid our 40 RMB ($5) and headed into the space.

The venue, called 2 Kologos (Two Friends) was the size of a suburban basement rec room, and smelled about as funky. The tiny little bar in the corner was shilling cheap, strong liquors and beers (20 RMB for a 'wisky coke' [their spelling] – less than $3), the place was a fog of cigarette smoke (not yet illegal to smoke in bars in China) and the place was a veritable fire hazard – that is to say it was absolutely jam-fucking-cram-man-packed with INTERNATIONAL HIPSTERS!!! That's right gang – hipsters of all shapes, sizes, colors, nationalities and fashion senses. You had fashion-punkers, math rockers, lumberjacks, cool nerds sporting black-square frame glasses, artfags, tight pants, tight shirts, nice hats, and impressive array of facial hair on all who could grow it. Most impressive was the pure internationalism of the scene – we met kids from Chile, Poland, Spain, Wisconsin, Germany, France, Westchester, Beijing, New Zealand, SoCal, etc. Most of the expats spoke perfect Mandarin. It was hard to find a bad-looking kid in room. I would've paid good RMB to get a pie chart pictographically describing everyone's geographic provenance – where they came from, where they've been, where they're living / going next. That shit would've been badass. There were a fair share of Asians and the women (and men) who love them, but the majority of the hipsters were simply a Vice Magazine's ad bastard's wet dream.

The night was pieced together by Tag Team Records – Going Out of Business Since 2005 – a local rock / free-jazz / electronic label based here. The bands featured included: Arrows of Desire, a generic grungy rock and roll foursome; PK14, a half-way decent noise-rock band with a little bit of noodley electronic knob twisting and button pushing – the lead singer was a short squat balding teutonic individual who spent a lot of time screaming a la Frank Black (they reminded me of some krautrock group I couldn't place); FM3, a spaced-out five note drone group that busted out with a fog machine, clouding the entire space in a thicker haze than simple cigarettes could produce; and Lonely China Day, the only group actually made out of Chinese, also playing generic poppy, punky rock and roll. And, as mentioned above and totally expected, none of the hipsters were doing anything – we're talking not even a little hip shaking or head nodding. It was depressing and confirmed everything I feared about the international youth community – everybody is too fucking cool to do anything but smoke, drink, flirt and fuck.

But then Sulumi took the stage – two skinny Japanese dudes with asymmetrical haircuts, and they started plugging in a whole table of wires, sound machines, boomboxes, cables, sound manipulators, and . . . wait . . . was that? Yes, I think it was . . . holy shit . . . these two dudes are plugging in old-skool 8 bit Nintendo Gameboys. We had found members of the 8 bit Revlution! (There is a small but fierce community of Gameboy DJs across the globe that call themselves the 8 bit Revolution – they make their sounds by plugging in home-doctored Gameboys to DJ equip and rock the fucking house with hyperkinetic Midi-created videogame dance music. Bitshifter is one of them and located in NYC – check out his stuff, its ridiculous.) It took Sulumi a short while to get the sound right, sounds kept switching on and off, a blip here, a blurt there, but once they started rocking it, the goddamn sounds were like a dance virus. You had these two tall skinny Japanesesters physically throwing themselves across the stage, slamming their fists into the table, flipping their gorgeous black sheened cuts across their heavy-on-the-bangs heads, flinging their lank-ass bodies into air, just hammering along with the insanely infectious, unbelievably bouncy, uppity up electronic trampoline dance disaster jams . . . AND NONE OF THE FUCKING HIPSTERS, I MEAN NOT ONE SINGLE HUMAN BEING WAS EVEN ATTEMPTING TO MOVE.

Except for me and Jonah. I mean, of course we started moving – we're dancers through and through. I also realized that if we were to move up and center in front of the stage, our simple excitable energy would catch along and maybe, just maybe and hopefully and God willing, some less uptight of this here international community would start to shake ass. So that's what we did. And Goddamnit, we shook some serious ass. As the accumulated whisky cokes gathered in our bellies and the smoke killed our corneas, as the music hit that never-ending high and the gorgeous idiots gazed on with incredulousness, we did our best to show them how to do it. And it worked – sort of. Out of the capacity crowd of 100 bored looking bozos, we got a solid half-dozen dudes (well, five dudes and one chick from Chile) onto the floor. (Our proudest achievement – one of the dudes throwing down on the dance floor was a blond moptop'd douchebag who, immediately preceding Sulumi's kicking out the jams, tried to start a fight with me in claiming that they weren't going to be any good. And who was right, motherfucker?!? [I was pretty drunk by this point.]) The rest of the room could go fuck themselves. We were having a blast. At some point the DJs quit up all their righteous noise for a short intermission, and I took the opportunity to exclaim out loud (to the laughter of some and the indignation of others) YOURE TOO QUIET! THERE ARENT ENOUGH PEOPLE DANCING! MAKE IT LOUDER! Also having an equal-opportunity-blast were the three some-odd professional photographers with biig cameras who couldn't get enough of taking our picture. I fully expect to be on Beijing's blog equivalent of And looking like I kick some ass. After the bands, after the DJs, after more whisky cokes, after ogling the various babes and Asians, after sneering at the uptight hipsters, after I got my tattoos licked by an sexy overeager Polish boozer, after purchasing a "Buddha Machine", after conversing with numerous peoples of all sorts of nationalities and ethnographies, after all of this delirious, delightful delicious experience in Beijing nightlife, we (our brotherly party of two expanding to include two Jeremies, one from New Zealand and the other from the aforementioned Weschester; the Westchestarian being one of our more exuberant dance-floor partners) attempted to carry over the energy and dance-mania to some other clubs. But it was 2:30 in the AM (late for Beijing standards – this city is a working city and the nightlife is pretty much limited to Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and over by 1 or 2 am) and the two other clubs we hit were as exhausted as we were. So at about 3 Jonah and I called it quits and taxi’d back to our digs. We drank, we flirted, we schmoozed, we chatted, we DANCED, we impressed, we depressed (the losers, that is), we rocked it and socked it and put rockets in our sockets, we slammed so hard our weary bodies were only wanting more on the long ride home. Sleep came swift and sweet and absolutely earned.

No comments: