“I belong to China’s second batch of DJs,” DJ Paulna told me as he dragged hard on a cigarette. “Up until 2005, DJs played techno and trance in the disco, after that we started playing hip-hop, R&B and funk in new bars that began opening up all over China.”
The discos have since disappeared in the beach resort of Sanya, now replaced by lines of swanky bars. The DJ looks down from a stage on lines of tables encircled by bar stools. “People dance at their tables,” the bar manager told me, cupping my ears with his hands so I could hear him above the thump of the music.
Across China, the art of DJing has been in rapid change. Starting in the big cities in the 1990s, discos slowly started to open across the country and with them came a new breed of Chinese DJ. In 2004, Chinese nightclubs took a sudden new direction with the establishment of the nightclub bar, a more sophisticated establishment with music to match. “The DJ industry has developed in China relative to what happened in Europe and Japan, it just started a little late,” DJ Paulna explained. “As more and more Chinese DJs go abroad and experience different cultures, plus the influence of the internet, China is slowly catching up.”