The Ruin Party

The Making of ‘The Ruin Party,’ an Epic Rave by Beijing’s dipdipmusic

Throwing a truly underground rave in China is tricky, but the team at dipdipmusic is finding innovative ways to keep the party (and beats!) going

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7:10 PM HKT, Wed July 27, 2022 5 mins read

Into the Night is a monthly series exploring China’s vibrant nightlife scene and the roster of young people that make parties in the country so damn fun. This month, we introduce Beijing label dipdipmusic and its inventive rave events.

Pounding techno beats echo through the walls of a derelict building populated by stone pillars. A DJ at the center of the room kneads the ravers’ excitement with practiced proficiency. The grey edifice has been brought to life by the energy of those present, who lap up the opportunity that a precious afternoon of raving allows.

The Ruin Party was a one-off event created by dipdipmusic, a Beijing-based party label that also runs a vinyl shop. The brand was set up by like-minded friends Jiajun and Mad in 2018 as a vehicle to host innovative rave parties in unique locations. The Ruin Party is a prime example of what they’re about.

The Ruin Party location

Location scouting for The Ruin Party

“The idea for The Ruin Party got stuck in my head after I was struck by a dilapidated building on my way home. I immediately wanted to organize a party amidst ruins. I thought it would be cool,” recalls Jiajun.

Parties, Police, Secret Venues

A long-time raver, Jiajun was first introduced to electronic music in 2014 and started using his laptop to play and remix his favorite songs.

Born in Dalian, in Northeast China’s Liaoning province, he settled in Beijing in 2017 and began scoping out the local underground scene at small parties hosted by his friends. He spent his first six months in China’s capital absorbing as much as possible before setting up his own label, dipdipmusic.

Since then, Jiajun has managed various music events, like the Ulan Hada Volcano Party in 2021, which saw 50 party lovers camping, picnicking, and dancing to electronic music at the foot of the Ulan Hada volcano in Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

More impressive, however, are the handful of parties that the label has put on all by itself, from the Terrace Party in a hutong (a type of narrow alleyway commonly found in North China) to the Dark Room Party in an abandoned basement in Sanlitun.

His success with these concepts is partly thanks to his background in branding and marketing. Armed with a knack for collecting interesting ideas and transforming them into functional party projects, Jiajun excels at running his label and organizing raves.

The Ruin Party

Preparation and setup for The Ruin Party

He generally teams up with his friends, who help him to realize his proposals. However, a drawback to this casual approach is that there are often long gaps between each event. Jiajun recognizes this himself.

“Our parties don’t happen as often as events at other clubs that are more commercial. But, we promise that every party is high quality and creative.”

“Every time I see a new view, I want to throw a party in it.”

Holding a rave in an abandoned building is not an easy thing to do. It took Jiajun almost seven months to organize The Ruin Party.

The first barrier was finding the ideal venue. Jiajun quickly discovered a building to his liking, but several issues forced him to put his plans on hold.

“The ruined building was full of deep pits and sharp pieces of metal. I had to put safety first,” he says. “It was also a three-hour drive from where I live, so I was completely exhausted every time I went there to look. It didn’t even look that dilapidated.”

dipdipmusic location scouting 3

dipdipmusic soon experienced another hurdle: the ‘secret’ venue’s location had leaked.

“If a place is revealed ahead of time, it could draw the attention of the police. The event might get shut down, and we could even get arrested. Hosting a private outdoor party during Covid-19 is like playing with fire,” remarks Jiajun.

To make matters worse, Jiajun discovered a police station just a stone’s throw from the initial venue. As some team members had their own businesses to worry about, they weren’t willing to risk it. As a result, the team ultimately disbanded.

More Than Money

Nevertheless, Jiajun persisted. He spent three whole days scouring maps on Google Street View to find an alternative site and eventually discovered an ideal spot.

dipdipmusic dilapidated building

Inside the party venue

“The remains were dope; the structure was brutal,” says Jiajun, who was flooded with excitement upon spotting the ruins.

The creative was quick to contact the owner of the property, who, alas, wasn’t wholly cooperative.

“He said we could use the site, but we could only let 50 people in,” recounts Jiajun, who considered applying for an official business license from the government before finally throwing in the towel.

dipdipmusic underground rave

Revelers arriving for the party

“We felt that the government wouldn’t agree. We could expose ourselves and be more likely to get into trouble with the police, which would disappoint my clients, which is my worst fear.”

“Why are underground parties so niche in China?” he sighs. “Is it because the government doesn’t want young people to gather in one place, drink, enjoy some music and dance, while square dancing grannies can? I hope that one day, young people can gather in People’s Park to party, even if they’re just drinking water.”

beijing parties

Despite all the setbacks, The Ruin Party was eventually held back in April. After the music faded and the crowd of attendees returned home, Jiajun and his team took a step back to reassess the big picture.

As a result of the event’s high expenditures, Jiajun only made a total profit of RMB 100 (USD 15). While this would dishearten many, Jiajun viewed the small amount as a sign that they could turn a profit. More importantly, the event’s success boosted his team members’ and customers’ confidence in his wild ideas.

The Ruin Party marked a significant step forwards in Jiajun’s journey.

“It takes a lot of bravery and determination to do this because you have to juggle many things. Money is the main thing.”

He adds, “You also have to ensure that your team members’ values align with yours. With our former team, some were just in it for fame or the money, so we had to split ways.”

After parting ways with the original team for The Ruin Party, Jiajun asked his second team a core question: Are you in this to make money or to promote rave culture?

“Many of them have formal careers, working as product managers at big tech firms. They joined our team to experience something new and to make new friends. I tried to pay them, but they refused, something that moved me and made me feel very grateful,” he shares.

Beijing parties

Rave Culture Needs Silly People

On dipdipmusic’s official WeChat account, Jiajun once published the story of a young man by the name of Xiaobo, who colloquially goes by DJ Dreams. The DJ once held an event called ‘The Loser Club’ in a 24-square-meter space that could only accommodate five people.

While Xiaobo set up The Loser Club to inch closer to his goal of becoming a proper DJ, his dream eventually fizzled out.

The story was read by millions, many of whom expressed their sympathies.

“I was glad to hear that 99% of my readers thought that Xiaobo was brave, while the remaining few thought he was a complete loser — the same way Xiaobo described himself. I must admit he was silly, but don’t we need more silly people like him?” asks Jiajun rhetorically.

dipdipmusic audience

“We are now living in a world where happiness is directly associated with consumption. Only a minority are brave enough to do what they want and gain enjoyment and excitement in doing so. Xiaobo failed, but he also experienced the pleasure of his dream and has unforgettable memories of his tiny club,” says Jiajun with reverence.

“Who knows what will happen next? In my case, when I plan a party, I don’t know if it will make a profit. Holding events is largely passive, but feeling happiness from the positive feedback and the sight of satisfied faces is rewarding, isn’t it? It’s people like Xiaobo who add to the future of Beijing’s underground scene.”

Ravers at The Ruin Party

Today, dipdipmusic is lending a hand to dreamers such as Xiaobo by providing pragmatic advice and financial assistance, if needed.

“I intend to set the ‘standard’ for the industry,” says Jiajun. “I want to see more and more large dance parties all over China. I want to be the guy that every raver in China mentions when talking about dance parties.”

For more information about dipdipmusic, watch the review video of the party collective on Bilibili.

All images courtesy of dipdipmusic and 小鱼ZOOY

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