Over the past six months Hangzhou has had a facelift. In anticipation of the hyped-up 2016 G20 economic summit for example, as well as the general interest in the city as one of China’s UNESCO heritage sites and general tourist traps. The Zhejiang capital will also soon become host to the Asia Games and is fast gaining a reputation on the international map for global travellers and business entrepreneurs alike. Hangzhou is well known for it’s serene landscapes (according to the expression…shang you tian tang, xia you su hang/上有天堂，下有苏杭) while it’s West Lake has drawn retirees and folk enthusiasts to enjoy the music of their fore-bearers.
Behind the gloss of the stereotypical Chinese postcard though, there is an underbelly of artists, musicians, writers, performers and creators who have seen venue after venue come and go, and a city of young people whose stage may as well have been made of quicksand. Without the same underground emergence as other Chinese cities who have embraced their youth culture (check Wuhan, Beijing, Changsha, or Chengdu), Hangzhou has been left in the dust until recently.
In the middle of a construction site and a developing area of Zhongshan nan lu (中山南路) there’s something happening. Paint fumes fill the stairways, elevators and the shell-like cement corridors. Atop the wavering scaffold, workers still mount the electrical fittings on the walls and ceilings, while empty shops and stalls await the bricks that will build their future interiors. I climbed the stairs through the fire-exit to join the opening night of Hangzhou’s new club, ‘Loopy’. While directions were few, you need only follow the red carpet and the distant pounding of drum beats from the far reaches of this unlikely venue – inside a shopping mall.
From outside, Loopy’s young party-goers are scattered all around the spacious cement corridor. It’s distinctively modern graffitiesque logo is chiselled into the wall where two large concrete arches open into the outer bar area. On the right leads a small doorway into the club. With many venues in this neck of the woods, you’ll generally find a disproportionately large number of punters hanging around the outer atrium but as I pushed through the curtained entrance I was pleasantly surprised.
The grand opening of Loopy, took off where many of the same Lineout Stage crew at XXCafe left off, with the party ‘Begin Again’. The night represented the combined talents of Rebekah, Sulumni, Shao, Loukoko, Stephen K, Badtooth, and Onichan; a great mix of both local (HZ/SH) and internationally (UK/France/Ireland) based electronic artists and DJ’s (House, Acid) pounding out the beats til sunrise. While the dance floor isn’t quite as big as some of the more exhausted clubs in the city, you’re getting way more for your buck (or for free as it was on the night!) Unlike many venues in Hangzhou, the artist’s space takes centre stage and precedence over the whole room which was really refreshing.
There are no dancing girls in cages or any zoo-like distractions taking away from the music and what’s happening on the stage. At the back of the stage, there is also a moveable screen for back-drops, projections and installations which could also presumably be used for fine art events; while above the entrance there is an overhanging balcony. As room’s go, it’s as real as Hangzhou has ever had, in my opinion. It’s all about people, socialising, dancing without any need for expensive over-decorated furniture or rich dudes flaunting themselves over copious amounts of fake booze. It is a great minimalist space that is purely dedicated to bringing independent artists to Hangzhou and to thrive in a place that is as the construction outside suggests – developing.
We decided to meet up with Loopy’s lead guy, independent event organiser, photographer and musician Yi Fei, to get an insight into the beginnings of the venue, what we can expect from them in the future, some of their concepts, designs and ideas and what makes a great venue great. Stay tuned..!
enquiry and reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org,
phone: +86 156 5801 8959 / 186 5718 8959
Address: 上城区中山南路77号313室 /// Room 313, no.77 zhong shan nan lu