EDM is on the rise in China, a country that is known internationally for its authoritarian rules that restrict freedom of speech and press. Just a short thirty years ago, China was gripped by the brutal Maoist Cultural Revolution which paralyzed social and economic development throughout the nation. However, China‘s rapid economic growth in the last two decades and development of an affluent middle class, may be signs that the nation may be on the crux of a new more positive sort of revolution.
China’s capital, Beijing, home to just under 21 million, has in recent years become home to the Intro Music Festival, which bolsters over 80 unique electronic acts and spans a weekend. Now in its fifth year, Intro Music Festival is somewhat of anomaly. China is not typically viewed as a musical destination nor, for that matter, as an exporter of electronic music talent. However, a twenty year veteran of the Beijing House scene, DJ Ouyang sees the winds of change beginning to blow and was quoted saying-
“I think people who come to music festivals are becoming increasingly diverse. Initially it was only people who were already exposed to electronic music, now there are people who bring their children and come here to enjoy the atmosphere and the surroundings. I think this is such a successful transition – it is bringing music to a wider audience. To bring new music to an old setting is a successful integration of the two.”
EDM in China is gaining momentum and is drawing wider and wider demographics of Chinese nationals. But what’s more is the usually restrictive Communist Party seems to be tolerating, (at least for the time being), this new trend. DJ Mickey Zhang, another locally spawned act, views this growth cautiously, as perhaps an optimistic sign of change in Chinese policy,
“For a music festival like this to happen in China is really special. From a certain perspective, the government may not be totally supportive but for them to allow it to happen is a good sign. Perhaps the Chinese government is slowly realizing that for people to pursue their individual ways of living is very important. The government should create more opportunities to allow each individual to choose. I think the government is starting to do that, to give a way to allow people to more freely choose their mode of living. Before the thought was unfathomable, but this happened.”
With a growing level of affluence, the Chinese people are beginning to explore individual interests in ways never before possible. EDM is just one of many new outlets for individuals in China to express themselves and establish their own individual identities As time goes on, these sort of cultural pressures may effectively change the course of domestic Chinese policies, with the potential for China to become a nurturing environment for not only EDM, but for music, art, and culture on the whole. In the future, we may see Chinese nationals sharing the stages with the biggest names in the EDM world. But for now, we’ll temper our optimism and praise the recent successes our Chinese brothers and sisters have brought about through their love of EDM.