Saturday, October 27, 2007

"The superstar DJ is alive and well - in China"

from - by Paul MacInnes

The superstar DJ is alive and well - in China

It may seem some time since British youth culture was in thrall to clubs like Cream and Gatecrasher and figures like Paul Oakenfold and Norman Cook were as popular as Oasis. But a poll released yesterday shows that the cult of the superstar DJ is alive and well, it's just moved to China.

Dutchman Armin van Buuren was named the world's favourite DJ this week in the annual readers' poll run online by DJ magazine. While most of the names at the top of the list are practitioners of a high-tempo form of techno music known as trance, the style of their music is perhaps of less note than the people who voted for it.

"We got 350,000 people voting this year up from 229,000 last time around," said Jason Robertson, the publisher of DJ Magazine. "That's largely down to a real appetite for dance club culture coming from outside the UK. The US was the biggest voting bloc, then the UK. But China was close behind them both and eastern European countries not far behind either. China was a big player this year. The market for dance music is shifting abroad."

The explanation for such a trend is likely to lie, as with so many things, in the continuing Chinese economic boom, which has funded outsized nightclubs in cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou. Dance music website has community pages for eight such venues in Shanghai alone. A rise in the consumption of ecstasy and other drugs has been acknowledged by Chinese authorities which may have helped encourage an appetite for repetitive beats.

Bill Brewster, the co-author of dance music history Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, says a decline in appetite for big name DJs in the UK has forced them to look abroad. "In a parochial sense it's over," he said, "but there remains a higher echelon of mega-DJs who are huge all over globe.

"In countries where youth culture is a relatively new thing, there is a huge appetite for music like trance. In Russia and the former Yugoslavia they're experiencing the demand for clubbing that we did five or 10 years ago."

Robertson believes it is only a matter of time before the superstar DJ makes a return to these shores. "Cream had its 15th birthday party with van Buuren last weekend," he said. "Ten years ago there was a huge travelling clubbing community, it was like going to the football. Kids still want to be part of a community and a big name persuades them to go out. I really believe it's going to come back."

The main players

Top 10 DJs

1 Armin Van Buuren
2 Tiesto
3 John Digweed
4 Paul van Dyk
5 Sasha
6 Above & Beyond
7 Carl Cox
8 Ferry Corsten
9 Infected Mushroom
10 David Guetta

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