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JOURNAL FROM THE CITY

Guangzhou, me, this city and the world. Or you, your city and the world.

Guangzhou is a vast port city located in the northwest of Hong Kong. It is one of the four major economic cities along with Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. We received a report from inoken, who works as an apparel maker and photographer in Guangzhou, while also planning club events and creating graphic art.

Looking back, in January 2018, Yo-suke, who was still in the area, organized the event, and Taniguchi and Hajime Sakurai landed in Guangzhou with analog records.I have good memories of the first club party, “Urban Classics”, which was to be held in Suzhou, Shanghai and Xiamen, with an audience of over 250 people.

In the spring of 2021, Inoken will report on how the city and its friends are slowly returning to normalcy after the Corona disaster. Please enjoy this article as an introduction to some of the coolest music spots in Guangzhou, including BRASSTON, where we held our event, Rozz-tox, which has great craft beer, and Vine Sound Hall, which has a famous cat owner. I want to visit Guangzhou again!

 

Inoken

Born in Niigata. Store director, photographer, and graphic designer. Spent two years in Seoul, South Korea as a university student, where he came into contact with a multicultural mix of fellow international students. After graduating from university, he opened an apparel store in Guangzhou at the dawn of Taobao. From there, he spent a dense 10 years in Guangzhou. While planning and selling apparel, he also participated in the band “Naname Step” and the DJ crew “Soul Funk Jazz Brothers”.

He will start his own art project in 2019.

https://www.instagram.com/innokentius9/

Me and this city and the world. Or you, your city, and the world.
Needless to say, it was the pandemic of the new coronavirus that completely changed the way these three relate to each other.

One year ago. The live images of the first infection explosion in Wuhan shook the people. In some cities, people were forced to restrict their movement and were unable to do things that they used to take for granted. In some cities, people were restricted from moving around, unable to do things they had taken for granted. They furrowed their brows at the coughing of a neighbor who had been a good friend until yesterday, blamed someone as if they were a criminal if they were infected, and exposed their family’s information to the community, treating them as if they were “wanted. In some countries, racial discrimination and even violence was rampant over the source of the virus. Under the dull, cloudy sky, people with their mouths covered rolled their backs as they passed the days. The year 2020 has undoubtedly left a huge mark on human history. What kind of path will humanity, which has endured unbearable days without hope, take in the future? ……

As I was writing these disturbing things, I called the waiter to pour hot water into the empty pot with a voice as loud as the noisy seats around me. I threw in a mouthful of shao mai from the colorful steaming baskets on the table, and drank a cup of hot puerh tea from a small teacup. Food is in Guangzhou. It’s as delicious as I thought it would be.

Dim sum is a symbolic dish of Guangzhou and is favored by a wide range of people from young to old. The table is in full bloom with chatter.

March 2021.

 

It has become quite hot in Guangzhou City, where I live. The summer season is in full swing by the end of March every year, and the summer days continue until November in Guangzhou. For a third city in China, it is a city where time flows very slowly, and the locals love to relax and enjoy Yum Cha with a chat. I’ve been living in this city for 10 years now, and I’ve grown quite fond of this style. It was at a long-established dim sum shop called Inaka in Guangzhou that I wrote the above disturbing article.

 

Compared to the gloomy reports of Corona around the world that I’ve been seeing on Japanese news sites lately, life here is almost back to normal. It is ironic that at a time when the rest of the world is going through a difficult period, China, where the first outbreak occurred, has succeeded in containing the disease early. So, what is happening in this city right now? In a world filled with anxiety over the coronavirus, how is this city doing? I would like to give you a brief report.

 

 

 

Let’s go back to the end of 2019.

 

I was having a New Year’s Eve event with my close friend Yo-suke and his friends at a friend’s bar. Of course, we had a great New Year’s Eve party with a lot of people showing up, even though we couldn’t find any Corona in those days. The next day, I saw a small article on a Japanese news site that said, “New Coronavirus Outbreak in Wuhan? At that time, I, my friends, and this city didn’t pay any attention to it. A few days after the best New Year’s Eve ever, I moved on to spend a little early spring break in Japan and Korea.

 

I was enjoying my vacation for about a month, but by that time, the new coronavirus was spreading everywhere, and there were already shortages of masks in many places. I decided to cut short my schedule for a few days and return to China, but I was not feeling well in China after about a month. Of course I was nervous, but more than that, I felt as if the city was filled with something unseen, something not good, something like anxiety. I felt like I was in the middle of an endless night.

 

As soon as I got home, a staff from the apartment management office came wearing masks and dustproof glasses and told me not to leave the house for 14 days. Quarantine. But at that time, it was still a voluntary quarantine with no strong enforcement. I could leave the house if I wanted to, but the gate of the apartment building where the guards were standing was strictly checked. So I didn’t go outside for 14 days.

During the quarantine period, I looked out from my balcony every day and felt a little uneasy about the quietness of the city.

During the fourteen days that I was cut off from this city, many things had changed. The quarantine of people who entered the country later began to be enforced, and people would be taken temperature readings wherever they went. The biggest change was the introduction of an app called Health码 throughout the country (or more accurately, a program within WeChat) that tracks an individual’s travel history and where they are staying. It’s a sort of zero-privacy thing that tracks which establishments you’ve been to and even which restaurants you’ve eaten at, but you have to scan the health code when you enter a restaurant to be allowed in, so there’s no way around it.

After that, the whole city became nervous for a while, but after following the government’s words and putting up with a little inconvenience to continue living, the number of infected people in the country gradually decreased, and within a few months, the number of newly infected people in Guangzhou could be reduced to zero. In the meantime, my city and I are gradually getting back to our normal lives.

 

My favorite dumpling shop, which had been forced to close for a long period of time, reopened for business, and my business partner’s factory started operating again. My friend’s bar, which had been unable to reopen, was back in business, and those of us who were hungry for loud music were dancing around with drinks in our hands. I had also collected a few records during the quarantine, so I shared them with everyone and danced around. It was as if those days of people with their mouths covered and their backs curled had never existed.

JASCER, a close friend of mine and a well-known DJ in Guangzhou, has been actively organizing events day and night since Corona settled down, trying to bring excitement to Guangzhou.

The city where I live has regained its normal hustle and bustle, and we have returned to our pre-Corona (though we still have to deal with Corona) daily lives. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I can now enjoy a leisurely dim sum meal in a lively restaurant. Recently, new cafes, restaurants, specialty stores, and art spaces have been opening one after another in Dongshankou, where Guangzhou’s good old streets are spread out, and there is an abundance of vitality as if highly sensitive people are actively leading the cultural scene. The momentum in this city is so great right now that it almost blows away the sadness of Corona. As for the music scene, it seems that only domestic artists are performing since foreign artists can’t come to the city in the midst of the Corona disaster. This may be a good opportunity for domestic artists.

Winter 2020. A select store and gallery in Dongshankou. In one corner of the store, which mainly sells apparel and accessories, there is an exhibition space for artists.

Although Guangzhou is a large city, I can’t deny that the diversity of music events in Guangzhou is a bit weaker than in Shanghai and Beijing. In this situation, I’d like to introduce two places that I love that continuously hold a wide variety of events.

 

The first one is Rozz-Tox289, which can accommodate large events and is not limited to music events, but also hosts exhibitions of artworks and performances of advanced performance art.

On weekdays, the large floor is basically closed to the public and only a bar space is available, but there are also two DJ booths set up where DJs play pleasant music on irregular weekdays. They also hold various events such as the OPEN TABLE, where they open up the turntables for music lovers to come and play anytime, and the JAM SESSION, where you can bring your own instruments and have a session with strangers. Philip, the owner of this place, is also one of my best friends. We used to play together in Japan before Corona, and we’ve been friends until morning in Guangzhou.

https://www.instagram.com/rozztox289/

Rozz-tox289 entertains visitors at various events.

Wuyang Rozz-Tox, a branch of Rozz-Tox 289, always serves nearly 30 kinds of craft beers and also holds music events on an irregular basis. It was a great experience for me to participate in the “Vinyl Heroes” event held a few years ago, where more than 10 Japanese and Chinese DJs danced the night away. By the way, there are always new brands of beer here, so it’s always a pleasure to find a new flavor. I drank almost all of them. I really like the Angry Alien Double IPA available here. I also recommend going next door to the Japanese restaurant “Suiken” to order some snacks and drink them at Rozz-Tox.

http://www.rozztox.com/

At Woyang Rozz-Tox. I took out a curry from “Suiken” next door and had it with craft beer. The image on the right is of an irregular event.

The other is BRASSTON, which has held “Urban Classics” in the past and attracted young people from all over Guangzhou, and is very popular for its excellent pizza, which won That’s Pizza of the Year 2020, and its regularly updated cocktail menu. The pizzas in particular are of such high quality that it is no wonder they have won awards. The pizzas are baked in authentic pans imported from Italy, and are so addictive that you will want to eat them every day. With such a strong emphasis on pizza, you might mistake it for an Italian restaurant, but Brasston also has a strong commitment to music events, including the first “Urban Classics” event mentioned above, as well as a variety of other events. Especially on the weekends, they offer good, genre-less music and provide a comfortable space for visitors. Once the music starts, some people dance with pizza in their hands, and after nine o’clock, the mirror ball starts spinning and the place turns into a complete dance hall. It’s also the home of the Soul Funk Jazz Brothers, a DJ crew that I founded with Inoken, Yo-suke, and Chong, the owner.

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/brasston/?hl=ja

After nine o’clock in Brasston, everyone starts dancing.

I’m sorry to be talking so much about music, but there is one more place I want to introduce. It’s a record café called “The Vinyl House. Because it’s a café, they play good quality music on vinyl during the daytime, but don’t think that just because it’s a café that it’s all about bossa nova and jazz, so it’s a great cafe for music lovers. They also play rock and funk.

Lisa, who makes the best coffee there every time, is much more knowledgeable about music than I am, and Mong, the owner, always polishes the records carefully and writes easy-to-understand liner notes on sticky notes. Of course, you can buy records here, and if there is a record you are interested in, they will let you listen to it. Digging at the same time as having a cup of coffee is the height of luxury, I thought to myself. They also hold events, with DJs coming from all over. One of my most memorable experiences was participating in an event where I was introduced to music in a radio format. I participated in this event with Yo-suke again, and I think that the stance of sharing your favorite music and enjoying it together is the most primitive way to enjoy music. I don’t get to go to many of these events because I live a little far away, but every time I go, I get to listen to my favorite music and my favorite Kenyan band drip, so it’s a great place to be.

 

Rozz-Tox, Brasston, The Vinyl House, there are so many great places in this city, it’s not just dim sum in Guangzhou.

This is a scene from a radio-style event at Hattori Sound Hall. Drinking coffee and sharing the music you like gives you a sense of being at home.

I’ve been doing apparel work, photography, and graphic design, but I’ve decided to get serious about my personal graphic art, which I’ve been creating separately from my work. I’m sure I’m going to get some comments like, “You’re like one of those fledgling YouTubers who got a huge boost from the Corona disaster,” but that’s okay. Corona is a very unfortunate and negative thing, but if it gave you a chance to start something, then maybe you can see it as a positive factor.

 

Fortunately, thanks to the support of the people around me, I have been able to display my work in various places. I’ve had my work displayed at Rozz-Tox289, one of the best bars in Guangzhou and one of the best event spaces I’ve ever seen, and at Moonchild, a newly opened record bar in Suzhou. I’ve also been approached by a website called Pieza Art in Amsterdam to sell some of my work. I would like to thank everyone. I mainly post my work on my Instagram account @innokentius9. I haven’t been able to update it much lately due to other projects taking up my time…

 

https://www.instagram.com/innokentius9/

Since then, my friends in Shanghai and I have been holding a regular Sunday afternoon party called “GARDEN” under the slogan “NEO GUBEI CULTURE” to “create a new culture in Shanghai’s Old North”. Although it has just started, it is becoming a fun space with nearly 200 people of various ages and from all over the world coming to the party each time. I would like to continue to involve more people in the future. It’s really fun to make new connections like this, and I hope I can leave a mark on this event.

GARDEN was held at Shanghai AO, and we shared a fun space from 3pm to 11pm.

I would like to continue to do exciting things while continuing my personal projects. I’m sure I can’t do anything on my own, so I’ve been thinking about how I can work together with friends and people who support me. It would be great if everyone could gather there and have fun. In a corner of the world where corona is still raging, I am vaguely dreaming of such things. When things settle down again, let’s have a toast in Japan, Guangzhou, or Shanghai.

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