December 4, 2008
2008 in Pictures: Part 4
Date Taken: January 18th, 2008
So this was the night I was introduced to the Void crew. Specifically, that's Cameron on the left and Nat(haniel) behind the turntables. Cameron is Scottish and has a great accent. Honestly it makes him hard to understand sometimes, especially when I'm talking with him in a loud area, like the subway or out on the street :-) But it was fascinating at first because, well, I'd only met one Scottish guy ever, some kid named Rupert who is related to Pie. I guess Austin isn't the Scots' favorite destination the way that Shanghai seems to be for Germany :-) Nat is cool as well, and he's British, which means he has an equally awesome accent. I tell you, hearing all these accents makes being in Shanghai that much more exotic :-)
So before I left for Shanghai, I'd Googled for "techno +shanghai" and came up with Void's web site. An interview they did with a guest DJ was posted on Shanghaiist and brought in huge traffic, including me. I corresponded with Cameron a bit and told him I'd show up to this particular party at Logo. Well I did, and as I walked in, I really felt like I was back in Austin. Logo is a terribly cramped and small venue, lined with wood, filled with hipsters and/or hipster-looking folk, and it just feels very scuzzy and downtrodden. Not unlike Plush in Austin! So I immediately felt comfortable there :-)
I walked in from the cold and stood around taking it all in. As I did so, I ended up just watching the DJ, which is something I do at pretty much every electronic music event. It's just fun for me. Anyway all of a sudden, a guy tapped me on the shoulder and said something like "You must be Ryan!" although in Cammy's brogue it sounded more like "Yew mehst be Roi-ahn!" Hahaha, that's hilarious to type out.
That began a year-long friendship of hanging out with the Void kids, going to dinner with them and their friends and the DJs they brought into town, going to Shanghai Shenhua games with Cammy (he's a huge footba -- err, soccer fan), going out for sushi and drinks sometimes, and supporting their monthly gigs as best I could at The Shelter. It was Nat who introduced me to the Guizhou place where I eventually ate fried bees!!
Those guys are so completely into techno it's pretty amazing. I think that's all they listen to. It's definitely all they talk about, musically ;-) They do a really great job of bringing in quality techno DJs to Shanghai, people I've never even heard of but who are innovators and manage to draw a full crowd of crazy people ready to dance. I have really fond memories of The Shelter in part because of them. And in late February Cameron provided a classic interview for Shanghaiist that I conducted over Pizza Hut. Amazing. Just read that in your head in a thick Scottish accent and hopefully you will laugh as hard as I do when I do that :-) Transcribing that interview was really, really fun.
So one of my goals before coming over here was to play a DJ set. I came close to that goal; in July, Cammy invited me to play one night at The Shelter. However, that was the weekend I was headed to Huangshan, so I had to decline. The rest of the year was pretty much booked for them. Since they book international talent, it all has to be done well in advance. It was worth it to me to go to Huangshan instead, but not playing a gig ended up being one of the small regrets I have about my time here. Oh well, can't win 'em all!
Date Taken: January 19th, 2008
This was the day I ended up exploring again and randomly found the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art in People's Square. It's a really cool building and luckily I wandered by when they were showing a cool exhibit. I'm pretty intrigued by Japanese design and this exhibition didn't let me down. I had a great time just walking around and taking pictures of paintings, t-shirts, sculptures, and fans. Of all the pics I took, the one of the girl covered in broken eggs is by far my favorite. In addition to the fact that it's well done, I was just completely taken by surprise to see it on the showroom floor in, of all places, Shanghai. Another thing I remember about the day is that it was the day I almost got wrapped up in the teahouse scam! That was exciting :-) You can read about that at my blog entry here . Things like that happened quite a bit during my time here. I guess a sad thing about it is that it really made me distrust people who randomly walk up to me. I mean, not that I would necessarily trust them anyway, but I don't like viewing people as suspicious from the get-go. But you have to be realistic, especially when you're obviously a foreigner here, that you'll be a target for some of these things. I'm sure similar things happen to tourists in places like NYC or LA.