It’s been nearly a year since DJ @llen, whose real name is Chen Wen-hong (陳文宏), left the capital of the Middle Kingdom to come back to the comforts of Taiwan. Tonight, his long and storied DJ career comes full circle as he promotes and plays at the second installment of Knights of the Turntables at Nangang Bottle Cap Factory (南港瓶蓋工廠), an all-vinyl rave in a semi-abandoned warehouse area.
Getting his start behind the decks in 1989, @llen learned his way around rock and roll records from Ling Wei (凌威), the owner of the Roxy franchises. In 1993, he had a life-changing experience in London, when he saw real DJs up close. “Up to then, when I played, people just responded to the song,” he said. “In London, as soon as the DJ moved the EQ a little bit, the whole dance floor would explode. The crowds there were responding to the DJ’s skill.”
When he got back, @llen left rock ‘n’ roll behind and played only the house, techno and trance records he picked up in London. There was one problem, though. “The people on the dance floors were motionless,” @llen said. “The owner told me to change back. I told him, ‘No, I can’t come back.’ I couldn’t play the old stuff.”
After spending a month in Thailand at Koh Phangan, home to the notorious Full Moon parties in 1994, @llen decided that he wanted to throw Taiwan’s first outdoor rave. In 1995, he photocopied flyers, handed them out to friends, and basically started the underground rave culture in Taiwan.
Fast forward 18 years’ worth of DJ gigs all over Taiwan and China, and @llen is back to his roots, playing underground records at intriguing venues. The Nangang Bottle Cap Factory is scheduled to be demolished in June of 2013. @llen got word of this from one of his DJ students and went to check out the graffiti-covered site. “It’s like Huashan before it became commercial,” @llen said. “I set up a company and we applied to the urban regeneration department. I started with what I know — rave parties — but there are many possibilities there. If the government sees the potential of the place, they may not tear all of it down.”
While @llen thought his return to Taiwan would offer him some respite from the hustle and bustle of China, that didn’t quite happen. “I didn’t really plan to do this, but I feel like this could be really cool,” he said.
Just One Fix presents The Lost Paradise Project V2.0 — Knights of the Turntables tonight from 9:30pm to 5am at the Nangang Bottle Cap Factory (南港瓶蓋工廠), 13-1 Nangang Rd Sec 2 Taipei (台北市南港路二段13-1號). Admission: NT$450, which includes a drink.