The draw of the East is as strong for DJs as it is for anyone else it seems and with venues in the region becoming ever more sophisticated, some of the world’s top music masters are now choosing to perform across South East Asia on a regular basis. Key performers responsible for turning vinyl into an art form back in the nineties, are now filling the dance floors from Hong Kong to Singapore. Here are the places to meet the Dukes and Divas of Dance.
Hong Kong Mix
Dragon-I is one of the most popular clubs in Hong Kong and always pulls a crowd of celebrities, fashionistas and beautiful people. The venue hosts special events which usually involve bringing in big name DJs and the list recently included David Morales, who has carved out a career as arguably one of the most in-demand remixers of the post-house era. He has worked with a large assortment of successful and famous artists, including Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, U2, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Jocelyn Brown, CeCe Rogers, the Spice Girls, and many others. Morales has also won a variety of accolades for his efforts including Billboard and National Dance Music Awards in the United States. In addition to remixing pop songs and transforming them into dancefloor anthems, he has also put his own spin on various house records.
Zouk opened back in 1991, with a large dancefloor and state-of-the-art sound and lighting, catering to a variety of artists. The club has proved consistently popular with Singapore’s party crowd and regularly attracts performers from all over the world. Its famous Mambo Jambo theme nights are considered an essential part of the city’s club scene. Steve Lawler is one of the big name DJs recently gracing the decks at Zouk. He made his name as resident DJ at Ibiza’s reputed Cafe Mambo and Cream. In 2000, he released the single “Rise In”, which featured vocals from the Reef song Mellow and reached number 50 on the UK Singles Chart and number 15 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play. Lawler describes his style of house music as “filthy” and “sleazy” and his music has been compared music to disco in terms of attitude. Not to be outdone, Zouk’s sister club in Kuala Lumpur has also hosted some of the biggest names in dance music including Carl Cox, the first person to be named number one DJ in the world on DJ Magazine’s Top 100 DJ poll back in 1997. His global radio show now attracts around 10 million listeners worldwide.
The undisputed centre for partying in Bangkok, Q Bar raised the bar for nightclubs in South East Asia. The bar offers the largest selection of spirits and cocktails in the capital with resident DJ’s spinning the latest grooves from around the world. This year sees LTJ Bukem on the DJ platform, whose record label Good Looking Records is most associated with the jazzy, atmospheric side of drum and bass music. Bukem’s music from the early 1990s onwards has been an effort to map out an alternative future for breakbeat house music by incorporating softer-edged influences culled from London’s rare groove and acid jazz scenes.
Beyond the region’s capitals, resort destinations like Koh Samui and Phuket also host some major name DJs. Clubs like Beach Republic, Gecko Samui and White Box on Phuket attract stars in search of a working holiday, who often combine a gig with a few days on the beach. Koh Samui is now the semi-permanent residence of Lisa Loud, the undisputed “first lady of dance music. With a phenomenal career that has spanned 20 years, Lisa is widely revered and admired as one of the UKs top female DJs. Her extensive musical background and expertise can ignite any party, whether the fashion glitterati of Milan or the discerning dance floors of Ibiza. Lisa combines glamour, elegance and sophistication on the decks with her trade mark of tribal infused tech house music.