SubJam Remembered: The Underground Archives

ah.. the good old days! Stories that can pick you up, transport you into specific dates in your past and bring a slight nostalgic smile. I just had that happen while reading this passges written back in 2005 by good old Jon Campbell:


But the minute my buddy walked in the door, I re-imagined what was, prior to his arrival, a cold, dirty Tuesday night at a shitty little Beijing club, as a different kind of Event altogether. For one, there is the process of getting to the club. Imagine, in a language you can speak, convincing a taxi driver to take you into the Drive-In, navigating your way down the dark tree-lined drive through a small strip of clubs, restaurants, and RV rental outlets (by the hour or the day; with driver or without), across a grass field, left at one of Beijing’s three old-school Volkswagen Beetles parked eternally in front of a filthy bar with the suspiciously-Apartheid-sounding name of Kafer Bar, and through the two Army-issue camouflage quilts hanging vertically in front of the door of 2 Kolegas (in Chinese, “Two Good Friends”, in ‘English’, generally referred to as “Dos Kolegas”). The quilts are one line of defense against the winter chill: The coal stove, which is refuelled with coal cakes, bits of wood, and cigarette butts regularly, is the second, but the only thing that really works is packing the room full.

Once you’re inside the bar, you know you’re In. You look around at the kinds of people (some Chinese, some not) that you’re sharing this Tuesday night with and it looks a lot like the kind of people you’d imagine would be at an event like this: The dork-hip set, the indie cool kids; the hippies and punks might not be exactly par for the experimental course, but they are here because Kolegas is that kind of a place, and, hey, Yan is that kind of dude. As he’s told me before, Beijing doesn’t have the kind of stratification between different types of music that traditionally would occur in other music scenes, especially here, on experimental night, where most local experimentalists only ditched metal and punk guitars a couple of years back.

That actually was my experience as well, minus the 3 VW beetles… that’s what started my love story with 2 Kolegas. I hated the music but i fell in love with the place, the people and the attitude. Before D22 and now XP delved into the experimental side of music, there was Waterland Kwanyin on Tuesday nights in the drive in… and mind you, back then, convincing a Taxi to take you to Tianjin might have been easier than finding the drive-in theatre.
I don’t need to delve much into Subjam, Kwanyin or Yan Jun, Jon wrote everything there is to write about them and you’re much better off reading his stuff.

What i’ll tell you though is that even if you don’t read things, head over to Yan Jun’s website and take a look at those sunbeam archives, download and treasure them.. it’s yaogun legacy.

Check out also Rock in China for comprehensive archive of the performers through 5 years of Kwanyin:

It would be cool if someone started a similar event but more progressive-minded, old school jam night.

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