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Hipsters building the scene in Nanjing

  • Written by Anil
Over the past few articles, HN has focused on locals who donate their time and energy to help develop Nanjing's community and culture. In this feature, we take a closer look at the NuTune Crew, a loose collective of hipsters that work together for the good of the scene. {xtypo_dropcap}O{/xtypo_dropcap}nce upon a time, a fellow named DJ Song Chen got together with some friends to form the NJ Underground Crew, with an aim to create an underground dance vibe in Nanjing. After a few parties, the communication got deeper, and a collective began to form that included designers, photographers, musicians, and journalists.

In total, eight people then decided to form what is now called the NuTune Crew.   Here is the roster, and their original roles in the Crew:
  • Wang Hai, aka Mono: party organizer
  • Wang Peng, aka Bob: graphic designer
  • Xu Jiang, aka DJ Barry: fashion, photography, party production, DJ (specializing in hip-hop)
  • Ma Tao, aka Tommy: journalist and promotions writer
  • Dongsong Chen, aka DJ Song Chen: residing in Australia for study, he DJs in Brisbane but returns to hang with the NuTune Crew every Spring Festival
  • Duan Lian, aka DJ RainCoat: funky break beats and house
  • Fan Wen, aka DJ Start69: hip-hop, minimal, techno, house
  • Ni Hao, aka Azuka: club and event management
  • Tang Tian, aka Summer: promotes and administers big-name DJ events, mainly in Shanghai


In 2006, this group came together on MSN. According to Mono, "Everyone was sick of the local club scene and wished to form up a team, to promote parties with fresh tunes and ideas.

After Song wrote the scheme for everyone to follow, we started to work: designing posters and flyers; contacting clubs; inviting local DJs. Basically, we worked to start an underground scene that did not yet exist in Nanjing."

NuTune's first ever party was on July 19th 2006 at Castle bar. It was the name of that party that saw the group change its name to the NuTune Crew.

HN meets the NuTune Crew

On Friday July 23, I got a call from Wang Hai/ Mono. The next night, he had a big show planned at Castle bar with DJ Ben Huang. He asked me what I was doing for the evening. "Not much."

"Come over to Secco. Ben Huang is here. Let's have a couple of drinks." 

So I rocked up to Secco where Patric and Wang Hai were doing just that: having drinks with Ben Huang. We chatted for a while, and then headed off to Castle Bar, to give Ben a chance to check out the venue. At some point, Wang Hai tapped me on the shoulder again. "Let's go to 61 House. The NuTune Crew is there."

It was their final meeting, before coming together as a work unit the following night for the DJ Ben Huang show. As soon as we arrived, a bottle of tequila arrived at the table. Things began to get blurry when we moved on from there and headed to the Melody KTV for a nightcap. 

During the course of the evening, I got to learn a little bit more about this collective of hipsters...

Choosing one's own future

Mao Tao (aka Tommy the journalist) worked in the advertising industry for a decade. "I was always tired, I kept asking if this is what I really wanted for my life. Working in advertising compared to my childhood dreams, it was worlds apart. 

The Chinese say that you become a man at the age of 30. When I turned 30, I decided to try and carve out a future of my choosing. Even if I don't earn much, if I am creatively satisfied, that's enough."

These days, each member seems to have successfully moved forward with their goals.

Wang Hai is a top-level party producer on a national level; Bob is one of China's top graphic designers; Barry's shop is a trend-setter on the Nanjing fashion scene, plus he is one of Nanjing's elite party promoters; Tommy's freelance writing career has taken off, and he works at the event management level with 61 House; Song is in Australia, thriving as a DJ while continuing to brainstorm for the NuTune Crew; DJ Raincoat and DJ Start69 (the funny man) have carved out reputations as dynamic local DJ talents; Azuka has recently rejoined the group after working on some other business ventures; Summer (the only female in the Crew) is now married to an Aussie and reunited with Song on the Gold Coast.

Working together

The sense of creative satisfaction – plus the common bond of electro music appreciation – seems to be what hold the NuTune Crew together. At the end of our Friday meetings, Wang Hai gave me an idea of the perfect future for the group: "We want to bring more memorable moments to everyone who loves NuTune Parties, and hopefully throw our last party when we're all 70 years old.

If there is one thing that will hold us together for so long, it will be the good music that we all love and enjoy to share."

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