1460km to see a DJ

There is one feature common to nightlife everywhere. Anywhere you go, there is a club playing crap music and serving overpriced drinks. In Ulan Bator there is this club, Metropolis, that looks like a standard European megaclub with trendy, but soulless design, decent PA and a big screen. All this is enough to forget that you are in the heart of Mongolia and not an European capital. Naturally they play generic radio hits and serve overpriced drinks. Going out in China was not any better. Much more variety and polish, but the baseline rule was applicable to most places I visited. No variety on the music front unfortunately, more or less same selection of  radio hits and “evergreen” classics as in Mongolia. After several nights out, I got the feeling that going out in most places seems pointless, as you will get this surrogate generic experience, which is no different from one place to another. Sanlitun in Beijing or Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong – different cities, different cultures, different clubs, but the experience is eerily similar. Finding something different while traveling can be challenging to downright impossible. In Beijing it took three attempts to locate a club which would not play all the latest radio hits, but something more substantial – Yue Club, an underground club with no frills decoration, but good music. In Shanghai I was more prepared and avoided the game of “let’s try our luck going out by a guidebook recommendation”. I did my research beforehand and ended up in Cotton Club for amazing live jazz and Shelter for fine minimal techno. Singapore’s very own Zouk is a prominent exception to this baseline rule. Exquisite interior design, spacious dance-floor, massive sound-system and most importantly quality music make Zouk really stand out on the worldwide clubbing arena. Zouk’s reputation attracts globetrotting DJs on a bi-weekly basis, so every weekend offers something fresh. I heard about Sven Väth playing in Zouk by a sheer accident, while being in Penang completely lost in plans and having no direction in my travel. First I discarded the idea to travel a ridiculous distance to a completely opposite direction to see a DJ . Then I started toying with it. And finally it made a perfect sense. 730 km there and an equal amount to get back all by land, well why not, I’ve got time and having seen Sven Väth already twice I knew what to expect.  Sven Väth is one of those names, which hardly ever disappoints, nor this time was an exception. This year marks 30 years of Sven Väth’s career as a DJ and the man is still full of energy and enthusiasm for quality music. He delivered a four hour set filled with techno and minimal verging into a plain weird territory and finishing with some neo-trance. Personal highlight of the night was Peter Dundav’s brilliant Distant Shores that was one the finishing tracks. Superb music from start to finish and furious dancing all night long, until feet started to ache. Just what doctor ordered. 1460 km by land to visit Zouk and see Sven Väth? Yes, totally worth it.