- These are turbulent times in Hong Kong—but how have the protests affected the nightlife scene? Michael Pote-Hunt investigates.
- Earlier this month, for the fifth edition of Shi Fu Miz Festival, I travelled to Hong Kong, a place where dancing in fields probably wasn't at the top of most people's agendas. Arriving a day early, there were clear signs of the political protests, from "Freedom is NOT FREE" graffiti to vandalised Hong Kong Metro (MRT) stations. The effect on nightlife seemed subtler. I visited a number of venues that night—some were quiet, others busy. The next day at the festival, I spoke to a local promoter who told me that apart from the early closing of the MRT lines and the occasional "free Hong Kong" chant, the protests were having minimal impact on clubbing. The festival, too, seemed largely unaffected.
Shi Fu Miz is a biannual event held in Sai Yuen Farm on Cheung Chau island, 45-minute ferry ride from Hong Kong Central Pier. It's the brainchild of French expats FuFu and the Paris-based DJ collective La Mamie's. With an on-trend booking policy veering towards house and disco, the event played out across Saturday and Sunday, attracting an intimate, largely French crowd of around 2000.
When I arrived on Saturday afternoon I went straight to Jungle, the largest stage onsite, where Camion Bazar played a DJ set incorporating live percussion triggered by an Alesis SamplePad. Old friends reconnected on the sunny dance floor over cocktails and young families played with children on the surrounding lawn. I wandered the site and ended up at Devil's Forest, a small clearing in the woods dedicated to local and regional acts. The Hong Kong DJ Mengzy played a punchy selection of stripped-back drum & bass, including "Mystery Sound" by HLZ & MC Fats.
For sunset, I headed over to Concrete, where the party was really gearing up. Because Carista had cancelled due to illness, Josey Rebelle was given extra time. She showed why she's one of the classiest in the game right now, weaving through warm cuts like USG's "Life 4 Living (Vocal Life Mix)" while roller skaters slid around the dugout surrounding the booth. The crowd was pumped by the time Peach and Shanti Celeste hit the stage. They ramped things up with ravey material including Reese & Santonio's "Rock To The Beat" and "Squeeze" by 51 Days. Off to one side, a man wearing remote-controlled bunny ears flapped away. Unfortunately, owing to noise restrictions on the island, the sound levels dipped at around 11:30 PM, the music replaced by a silent disco.
There was a noticeable drop in numbers the following afternoon, which gave the day a more intimate feel. As Alex Barck from Jazzanova warmed up Jungle with Evinha's "Esperar Pra Ver," several umbrellas shot up to deflect the shining sun. At around 4 PM, Roam Selectors (two of the minds behind the festival) played at Concrete, whose Sunday programme was being broadcast live on Boiler Room. The duo doled out high-energy acid and electro, including Hofstukken Acid Crew's "City Shimmer," to one of the weekend's largest crowds. Halfway through Yukari BB's excellent set of deep house and broken beat, a crew of people photobombed the stream with a sign that read: "Free Hong Kong Revolution."
Meanwhile, at Jungle, Marcellus Pittman was playing the set of the festival. Sowing together disco, boogie and deep house, he played, among other gems, the Los Hermanos classic "Birth Of 3000." A group of Hong Kongese friends danced in sync, brandishing air instruments, while a man high-fived everyone in the crowd. I watched on entranced by the earthy grooves and the light from the disco ball as it reflected between the trees.
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