Area strikes right note with youths

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am


Chengdu's nightlife was starting to get repetitive and moribund until the East Chengdu Music Park opened last autumn and shook the local music scene. The park was once a massive factory that had been lying dormant for years, but now it is a warren of industrial concrete cells, huge towers and soaring pipes, covered in graffiti and rock-scene slogans, and bumping with club music.

The concept for the park is not dissimilar to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Park in the southwest of the city.

Authorities hoped to promote the local arts and music scene by building a large, central location within the city limits - a classic 'build it and they will come' vision for promoting modern culture and arts in the city.

In the beginning the punters did come, and in droves.

The park was full of young hipsters as well as curious extended family units, eager to see what the park had to offer.

At that time, the park was still soliciting businesses for as-yet unrented spaces. Most of the initial businesses were bars and small clubs, bookshops and clothes shops, and the occasional quirky little stall selling handmade leather wallets, trinkets or rasta-influenced shirts and other items.

As the weeks went by, several clubs managed to gain a following.

One of the most successful clubs in the park is the Xiongmao dance hall, which has made its name through headliner shows featuring internationally renowned musicians such as DJ Shadow and DJ Krush.

The club is busy every weekend and is a fixture on the local clubbing scene.

The park is going through a process in which the cookie-cutter bars and clubs that sprung up in the beginning are slowly giving way to exciting, original ideas.

As with many of Chengdu's recent projects, the park represents a vision for the future in which culture, ecology and business flourish side by side in a dynamic and modern city.

The government is planning decades ahead, so some projects will not reach their full potential until a few years from now.

The East Chengdu Music Park, for example, will be linked to the city centre via a subway by next year. This vital link will make the trip to the park much easier and quicker than it is today.

Also the city is expanding in all directions - by 2015 a whole new city will be under way in the south and west of the city and the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Zone will further extend the metropolis' eastern edge. In time, the Music Park may well be considered 'city centre' as opposed to 'east side'.

An added advantage is the layout and design of the park itself; it is an impressive and beautiful addition to the arts scene and this authenticity - and the success of clubs and bars such as Xiongmao - ensure the viability of this new addition to Chengdu's nightlife for years to come.