DJ Dark, one of the more notable names on Taiwan's dance-music scene, has been involved with or participated in countless parties since way back in the day.
Having deejayed since the 1970s, he's one of the island's most experienced spinmeisters, and with an encyclopedic knowledge of music and the look of an artist, Dark is like the super-hip uncle you wish you had.
The nightlife scene in Taiwan, when all the music was on vinyl and the country was under martial law, seems light years away from now.
"I was 18 when I first started deejaying, and music houses (音樂室) were the hip spots that trendy young people liked to frequent. The music they'd play was mostly rock 'n' roll, bands like The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple were quite popular. Because I was so fascinated by the music collection of the music house (that had over 7,000 LPs!), I recommended myself to be a DJ there just so I could go through those records," Dark said.
A few years later, Dark began deejaying at so-called "underground discos" (地下舞廳), and as one of the few DJs on the island who could actually mix, he was extensively toured the country. The only problem though, was that the underground discos were all illegal, so whenever there was a police raid, we would have to flee."
It wasn't until the early 1990s when Dark became a resident DJ at Roxy 4 (an alternative-rock mecca back then) that he was able to bring his talent into full play.
"Deejaying at Roxy 4 was a lot of fun. I was free to play and experiment … . I could be totally creative with mixing and programming and people would be up for it and give me lots of feedback," he said.
Dark dwells on making Music Church, his brainchild and the first electronic dance club in Kaohsiung, with great relish. It was the place where many of the young DJs in southern Taiwan had their first glimpse of electronic music.
"Even though Music Church only lasted for 2 years before being forced into changing the music format, those who had been there still think very highly of it. It was a milestone," Dark said. "And, ironically, the mafia guy who once threatened to shoot me if I didn't play his favorite … music has become a friend."
Dark started actively organizing outdoor parties with @llen about 4 years after leaving Kaohsiung. "I enjoy the whole process of making a party happen and the DIY spirit," he said. "It's all about bringing the DJs, friends and ravers together and having a good time in the great outdoors." And that's exactly what made those parties so unforgettable. The big parties thrown with large corporate sponsors just don't have that kind of vibe anymore.
And now, besides working as the music director and DJ at Brown Sugar, Dark occasionally guest-deejays at one-off events. His sets are usually full of groovy, soulful house and Latin flavors.
Veteran raver Stan Lee (who brought Dark to play at Tainan's Fusion in May) said: "Dark's skill and taste of music are still undoubtedly way better than many of the DJs in Taiwan. His music can keep dance-floors grooving all night. He's a true master of sound."
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