Dada Bar is a Shanghai institution. It's where many of the current local DJs and crews got their start. A place with sticky floors, Beer Laos, questionable toilets, and that one middle-aged guy who always shows up to dance on the speakers wearing sunglasses, never saying a word. Babies were likely conceived after or during nights there. On a packed night, sometimes it feels like the biggest club in the world, though it's really just a sweatbox. They're turning five this Saturday. That's a long time in Shanghai years. Ahead of that, we asked seven regular Dada DJs to tell us their some stories from the venue, and share a track that reminds them of the place. All these characters are crucial to the Dada story.
Kodama (Magic Garden)
"The most memorable party at Dada was the last one I did there, "In Utero" on September 20th. It was two months before the birth of my daughter and a kind of bowing out before switching from tracks to nappies. Turnout initially was crap, some panic set in, but then suddenly at midnight the place got packed. I carefully played out my housey prog warm-up tune and let the decks fall silent.
While slowly mixing in my unborn daughter's heartbeat (at a cool 140 BPM), VJ Mark Stoned brought up 3D scan images of her in the womb. Chills all over. Gradually eased in a full on corker which when the bass dropped, set the house on fire. Played a wicked set, then can't remember much but wandered around talking to heaps of folk, graciously accepting congratulations and advice for impending fatherhood. Top night, smiles for days."
Dada Trax Selection: Lish - "Feel Good (Pony Orphants Remix)"
"Mainstay track in my warm up sets. Has a nice techie vibe to it, shuffles along with a sick groove and a delightfully weird mid-end, delves into a sweet melody before picking it back up again and chugging forward. Love it!"
Mia (DOT Records/Princess Of Tech House)
"Dadaaaa! the gateway to Shanghai's underground. As a DJ Dada is def the place where you gain your name in the scene, and is one of my all time favorite places to play! Love the energy level from the crowd, and is always a well mixed crowd with locals and foreigners. The best part is I get to play whatever the fuck I want.
[On the craziest Dada moment]. Remember the old DJ booth that was hella bouncy because of the bass? Once during my set, a few records dropped onto my head, then a few mins later one DJM-800 mixer dropped down on the floor like one inch away from me [Note: Quite heavy and potentially lethal if it fell on your dome]. So when the party goes too cray in there, protect yourself!!!! Especially this weekend! Cuz it's gonna be like one those nites, so go cray!!! Happy birthday Dada!"
Dada Trax Selection: Charlie - "Spacer Woman"
Steven Lorenz (Intransik Beats)
"I started getting involved with Dada much more when I started experimenting with my live set up. I asked Michael if I could use Dada during a slow night so he gave me every Tuesday. My best memory is when the club got quite busy during those training sessions and people were enjoying what I was doing even though it was just some experimental session.
The craziest night I had tho was a techno night with DJ Charp because the crowed understood what we were playing. All going crazy on progressive dark techno -- not a very common thing in shanghai at the time. Best feeling as a DJ to play for a crowed that just wants more and more and more!!!! A lot of sweat!!!"
Dada Trax Selection: Steven Lorenz - "Reloaded"
[well, we couldn't find the track he suggested, so here's a deep dubstep track made by Steven himself, that he probably tested at Dada on a Tuesday].
Carl Lorimer (Ex-DKD/M2/Park97/Dada Resident/Union Music)
"The truly crazy Dada stories I will refrain from sharing to protect the guilty, but as a resident my best memory is how the place would transition from being mostly empty to absolutely rammed in a matter of minutes. There is something special about the bar-sized club; it has an intimacy that is so often lost in Shanghai nightlife and clued-in regulars willing to dance to just about anything. With just a few dozen up-for-it punters a great night was easy to achieve, though typically by the witching hour the place was overflowing."
Dada Trax Selection: Eurythmics - "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)"
Elsie (Punani Rocks/Stockholm Syndrome)
"My best moment at Dada was once when the party was about to end. Velvet Robot and I played b2b and threw in some 80s tracks that make you either wanna go crazy or just dance with tears in your eyes or something. And when we do that, the best moment is just seeing people actually waving their arms and jumping around. It just feels 9999 times better than the idea of "rocking the crowd" to me personally. This happens from time to time actually."
Dada Trax Selection: Nowhere Girl - "B-Movie"
"It's a song I played once or twice at dada when me and velvet robot were doing 80s style b2b.Also I would totally go crazy and emo immediately when I hear this song in the middle of the night."
Stan A.K.A. Zean (Rankadank)
"[My best memory was when] I walked in Dada on a random day, and I found someone was playing one of my tracks. The worst was when I went by there alone on a busy Friday night, drinking all night, no girls talk to me. Hahaha, joke. I think it was my EP release day. It was my first time doing a headliner set, and I was excited by too nervous to look at the crowd during the whole set."
Dada Trax Selection: Zean Forget The Frame EP [We chose this]
"Too many crazy stories, but last year's anniversary was super fun and ended well into the morning, with the staff and a few customers pouring champagne over each other, a dozen of us had lost our clothes by then. I decided it would be wise to delete the pics from my phone.
I guess my other favorite was when a cage of live snakes from the restaurant next door fell open and we had snakes on the dance floor. Scary! But our staff is pretty fearless and cleaned it up super fast."
Dada Trax Selection: Kode9 - "Xingfu Lu"
"We've always been about being mad eclectic with the music, so it's really hard for me to just do one song. Ah, I'll go with the most recent release from Kode 9 - "Xingfu Lu", cause it's named after the little street we're on!"
Dada's Five Year Anniversary happens Saturday, August 23 2014 starting at 10pm. DJs are Carl Lorimer, Brain (one of the owners), Bacon SoundSpade, Kodama (Magic Garden), Compact Dicks, Ozone, and more. Free entry. More info here.
Photo Credit: Cover/top photo is from ekosystem.org, a street art blog. The pink cat painting was done by Desio.