As traditional Chinese music plays over a loop of Hong Kong cityscapes in the background, I wonder how this is cultivating excellence in Asian and Australian contemporary art. But Berlin-based Chinese artist Rui Ho introduces a curveball: the cascade of hardstyle beats that I can feel pulsate through my entire body motivates the crowd to move. Soon, everyone is synchronising as a sea of bodies.
Dynasty Karaoke is an odd venue for the second iteration of Club 4A. It’s an event that seeks to take art back from the white cube and return it to the forebearer of the grimy club. But in the middle of Chinatown, Dynasty is a venue that neither looks or feels like a club from first view.
While the dystopian-inspired video art playing on a loop helps set the techno club mood, I’m reminded of Dynasty’s original function as a kitschy karaoke venue as I walk past the bar and see the faux-Song Dynasty paintings and ceramics. Yet, there’s a certain charm to the place that works in the event’s favour.
As I settle into the space, I come to acknowledge the fusion between heritage, identity and modernity, the bridging between past and present. In the midst of these gaudy decorations, every set takes on a new energy. As Yumgod mixes the footwork standards of off-kilter rhythms and metal-sounding beats with pop classics, I notice a gentleman in an Adidas parka completely engrossed in the music. As he swings around, he zips up his parka and dons a pair of ski sunnies. His arms oscillate with energy, and I can see how “the club” doesn’t have to be like Berghain.
Clubbing has been an important source of community building since time immemorial. With the misguided lockout laws trampling on punters’ abilities to find shared meaning and connection on the dancefloor, Sydneysiders have been forced to use their wits to discover these potential connections. Under these less-than-ideal circumstances, the night at Dynasty is an ingenious success as I see the wide grin on that gentleman’s face.
Anything can be a sacrament to the joys of clubbing as long as the music is pumping and the mood is joyous.