NEVER BEFORE HAS it been so easy for anyone to be a DJ, what with CD mixers becoming standard and MP3 players enabling pre-made mixes to be created in an instant. While the sentiment of Soulwax's Too Many DJs certainly rings true in Hong Kong, it's not an easy game to break into. Risk-averse promoters don't like to stray from the tried and tested crowd pleasers who fill their dance floors, making it tough for the new breed to graduate from bedroom to club scene. Ritika Gurung doesn't see anything risky about what she does. The manager of NoHo club Chapter 3 organises regular amateur DJ nights. 'I'd get a lot of people coming in, always asking to play,' says Gurung. 'I thought, why not have a night where people can just do that.' In return for a set, the budding DJs are given free drinks on the night - although, crucially, most are playing for the chance of a regular paid gig at the club. 'All these new DJs try to get into the clubs,' Gurung says. 'But it's a very hard scene to break into. No one will give new, young DJs a chance, and that's frustrating for those who are really talented.' Typically, the amateur nights will have anywhere between two and five DJs spinning. Although many are vying for a regular slot, some just want to be heard and have fun. 'I want to give a chance to everyone,' she says. 'I really don't emphasise the competition side too much. It's not about winning or losing, it's just a chance for these guys to break into the club scene.' Moreover, the structure of the contest is such that, if all the DJs on the night are deemed worthy, they'll be asked back. DJs bring their own material - either vinyl or CD. 'They can play what they like,' says Gurung. 'Just as long as it's not too hard. Generally, we'll give them one-hour sets to see what they're like.' Perhaps it's human nature, but the success of shows such as Pop Idol tends to suggest that people love to see others fail - and make fools of themselves in the most public, humiliating arenas, if possible. The potential of such ritual embarrassment at this amateur night is high, especially considering that the aspirants aren't vetted before performing. 'So far, everyone has been of a reasonable standard,' Gurung says. 'We haven't had to stop anyone mid-set yet.' Entrants are of all different ages and nationalities. 'The oldest we had was over 30,' she says. 'The youngest was Kavin Lin.' The 18-year-old has already earned himself two high-profile Saturday slots as a result. 'When the DJ is finished, I'll give them advice and constructive criticism,' Gurung says. 'I'll also talk to the customers and see how they feel about the style and how much they enjoyed it. I don't announce the winners on the night. I call later, so as not to emphasise the competition element too much or discourage those who aren't ready. They can keep coming and trying. I'll always give them a chance if I can.' Top local spinner DJ Ladystar is all for the idea. 'I think it's fantastic [amateurs] have a chance to play out,' she says. 'People can listen to what the new and upcoming DJs are doing, and see what direction they're taking it.' And the customers seem to enjoy it. 'I love hearing the new DJs,' says 22-year-old graphic designer John Kong. 'If you go to a club, it's always the same DJs and same music. At least here it's fresh. You don't need to have a big name to play good music.' 'We come here every week,' says Jane Stevens, a 31-year-old teacher. 'It's a good place to relax and have a drink. It's always entertaining - sometimes great, sometimes funnily bad.' Hoping to be the former rather than later were two recent hopefuls. First up was 33-year- old hip-hop spinner Simon Tipper aka DJ Tipster. A DJ for 13 years and former resident in Brighton's Concorde club in Britain, DJ Tipster has played with everyone from Jurassic 5 to Mos Def. 'Nights like these are great,' he says. 'Anything that gives DJs a chance to play out on a big system is a good thing. For me, this is an opportunity to get another paying slot, and that's why I've come down tonight.' The other spinner is a 20-year-old who calls himself DJ Guru. Specialising in house, down tempo and Asian beats, he's not exactly an amateur, either, but is still excited to be taking part. 'I'm just back for the summer from university,' he says. 'It's all about the music, and I just love the chance to play.' DJ Guru says he's been involved in organising Bangra gigs around Hong Kong. Both DJs are highly proficient and clearly talented, with DJ Tipster's experience perhaps shining through - keeping the audience wholly appreciative during his set, tapping toes and nodding heads throughout. That Chapter 3's amateur night attracts such a high calibre of DJ is a reflection on the quality of talent out there without a showcase for their skills. 'So long as the DJs keep coming, I'll keep this going as a dedicated amateur DJ night,' says Gurung. Heartening news. Amateur DJ night, every Thursday, 8pm-2am, Chapter 3 Basement, Amber Lodge, 23 Hollywood Rd, NoHo, Central, free. Inquiries: 2526 5566.