Tag: trance

I have had the good fortune to watch live DJs spin music at raves in over five different countries. The rave scenes in these different countries varied greatly, but part of that is also due to the time difference. The raves I am going to mention here took place over a period of 15 years. During that time, rave culture changed in each one of these countries. I only partied at a certain time in each country, so I don’t know what they were like during the other times. This makes it difficult to compare one country to the other directly. But I will try.

The first raves I ever saw were in Seattle, Washington in the United States. They were simply amazing. I’m sure some of this has to do with the fact that they were my first raves, but back then it was the height of the rave culture in the US. The DJs were amazing and so were the venues. They took place in warehouses, but also large public venues. People took ecstasy and danced all night while wearing crazy clothes. The atmosphere was simply wonderful and it has never been beat by any rave or EDM festival I have attended since.

Outdoor rave in Europe
Crowds at an outdoor rave in Europe

Next I’ll quickly mention a rave I went to in Las Vegas in the desert. It was similar to the Seattle ones, but I did not know anyone there, so I didn’t have quite as great of a time. I also did not have any party favors and let’s face it, that does make a difference. The music at that desert rave was great, too, but I have to admit it was very cold at night in the desert and I was not dressed for the occasion. I had a few beers before I went, but there was no alcohol being sold at the venue, because there were people under 21 there and it was in the US. I got tired quickly because of this.

The next rave I went to was in Tokyo, Japan. This was in a gigantic venue right on the waterfront. The music was incredible, perhaps the best out of any of the raves, but the atmosphere just wasn’t there. The whole thing was much too commercial and that definitely took away from the feeling. We did have some party favors this night and I was there with a girl I really liked. This all made for a great night, but I did miss the underground feel of the raves back in the US.

From that point on I didn’t go to any raves for a while. In Europe I just went to clubs, because they did not seem to have real raves. They didn’t need them. You could do anything you wanted in the club. The next actual outdoor music festival with electronic music was in Seoul, South Korea. It was an electronic dance music festival with some large DJs. Some of the biggest name DJs in the world actually. Unfortunately, this being Korea, there were absolutely no party favors whatsoever. There was a lot of alcohol and everyone got very drunk, but it didn’t feel like a rave at all. It felt like a big party. It was a ton of fun, but I would not call it a rave. It was missing everything that makes a rave a rave.

EDM festival type rave in US
Ravers partying at an EDM festival in the US

Finally, I went to a few raves in Shenzhen, China. Being China, there was some weed, but nothing else. They also sold alcohol. I didn’t know anyone there and the parties were very small, so I got bored quickly. The music was fine, but nothing special. It was a nice try, especially for China. This is a country where you really do not have any good clubs at all and the nightlife generally sucks. The fact that someone tried to put on a rave is really incredible. They did a good job, too, but that’s not enough in this country. When you are in China, no matter how good you are at promoting parties and events, you just can’t compete with raves in the US or even Japan.

I just realized I forgot to mention the biggest rave of them all: the full moon party in Thailand. Yes I’ve been there and it was incredible. It also did not really feel like a rave, since most people were getting drunk. I was always against the US policy of not selling alcohol at these things, but now that I see what happens when you do, I actually like it. Raves are about drugs, not alcohol. The drugs fuel the enjoyment of the music and the general atmosphere of love and peace. Alcohol does the exact opposite of that. This is why the best raves I have been to were in the United States. That is probably surprising to you. It definitely is to me.

You’ll find info on raves on the Badass Raves FB page.

raves

I spent some time in Shanghai, China many years ago. While there, I went out clubbing a lot; pretty much every weekend. By far my favorite club in the city was a place called Bonbon. It was located a few hundred meters from my apartment, but that wasn’t the reason it was my favorite. Okay, it wasn’t the whole reason.

It had the best DJs in the city and for a price of $12 it offered an open bar until 4 AM. It was also filled with hot girls. It also had a great sound system and basically a selection of all the best DJ equipment for beginners. True, this club could never compare with the best clubs in other cities, like Tokyo or New York or Las Vegas or Berlin, etc.. But China—and in fact most of Asia except for Japan—does not really have all that many real clubs. Most places are actually pretty horrible, with annoying crowds and bad music that’s way too loud. That’s why a good club like bonbon, seems amazing while you’re there.

Despite the lack of great clubs, China does pull some of the world’s greatest DJs. And in Shanghai, bonbon got a lot of them. I saw quite a few big-name DJs while I was there, but the one that sticks out the most is Sven Vath. I had never seen him before, but had heard many good things, so when I saw that he was playing at my favorite club I was naturally really excited. But that’s not why he sticks out. I remember his performance, because it was so horrible.

DJ Sven Vath
DJ Sven Vath

Bonbon is a drinking club. With an open bar, everyone consumes a lot of alcohol and that makes for a certain mood. That mood is not conducive to long drawn out trance numbers. And unfortunately that’s exactly what Sven was playing. When he first took the stage, the crowd had been whipped into a frenzy by the previous DJ and the excitement only grew in anticipation of the night’s headliner.

But as the set went on and the endlessly droning beats monotonously continued for 10 long minutes after 10 long minutes after 10 long minutes, you could feel the energy being sapped out of the crowd. People who were dancing before were now just standing and watching and pretty soon everyone was looking forward to the moment when the regular club DJ would come in to finish up the night.

It was on this night that I realized that Sven Vath is a terrible DJ. True, it’s not his fault he was booked at the wrong kind of club for his music. There’s nothing he can do about that and the promoter should have done his homework and not brought in a trance DJ. Nevertheless, any good DJ should have the ability to read the crowd and adjust what they are playing accordingly. Sven clearly did not have that ability; or maybe he simply did not have the desire and he just stubbornly continue to play his set list. Either way, he ensured that I will never watch him spin music again and I’m sure many in the crowd left feeling exactly the same.

 

On a final note, if you are planning on traveling to China and more specifically to Shanghai and you want to go out at night, ask around before you head to Bonbon. It was great while I was there, but things change quickly when it comes to clubs and even just a new club DJ can completely change a place. Your best bet, is to simply ask someone when you’re there, like the staff at your hotel or just young people around the city. The one thing you should definitely do is go out clubbing if you’re in China, because even if the clubs aren’t that great, it will still be a unique experience. And if you’re lucky, or should I say unlucky, enough to see a Chinese DJ…well that can be an even more unusual experience.

European DJs