Yesterday was the three-year anniversary of the blaze in Greater Taichung’s ALA Pub, which resulted in nine deaths. This set off a chain of events that affected the whole community. Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) ordered inspections on all bars, pubs, live houses and restaurants, and many of them were forced to close. For a while, it seemed as though the nightlife had been sucked out of the city.
Three years on, the clubbing scene is thriving once again. Mega-clubs like 18TC, X-Cube, Paris, Lobby, and Spin are usually packed on the nights they are open. A fresh entry into the market is Vivo, a basement club that has a more intimate feel for DJs and party-goers. A newcomer to the DJ scene but not the music scene, DJ Ah Lei (real name Ryan Fernandez), makes his second appearance at Vivo tonight.
Ah Lei has a unique perspective on the DJ scene because he used to be in the band Blue Truckers. He has been throwing parties in Greater Kaohsiung for five years and has been running Brickyard with co-owner Graham Dart for more than three. But it wasn’t until recently that he decided to get behind the “wheels of steel.”
“I was in a band before, and we played a rock-reggae-ish style of music,” Ah Lei said in an e-mail interview with the Taipei Times.
“I made the change to deejaying because I enjoy performing. In a nightclub atmosphere, a DJ can move a larger crowd for a longer period of time, so there is less and less room for live acts. I was constantly watching people have a great time deejaying, so I decided to try it out.”
Each week, Ah Lei gets two chances to hone his DJ skills in front of crowds at Brickyard. “I play back-to-back with DJ P-Lala every Wednesday Night for ladies night. I also play a set every week at Rainbow Thursday, which is Greater Kaohsiung’s only weekly gay event, and the only Thursday dance floor in town,” Ah Lei said.
A month ago, Ah Lei got the call to play at Vivo. It’s the first time he’ll leave his home base in Greater Kaohsiung.
“Vivo … has a DJ booth which is close to the dance floor. It allows you to make a personal connection with the audience, and that can really get people into your show.”
This spring is looking good for Ah Lei as he is booked to play Free the Beach, a pool and beach party combination in Kenting during the Tomb Sweeping weekend, but his priority will always be his own venue.
“I work seven days a week inside Brickyard,” he said. “I’m a club owner first, teacher second, and DJ third. Getting one night away to perform every couple of weeks is a real treat for me, so I’ll just take them one at a time.”
■ DJ Ah Lei performs tonight from 10:30pm to 4am at Vivo, 35 Ziyou Rd Sect 2, Greater Taichung (台中市自由路二段135號). Admission is NT$200 for women and NT$300 for men, and comes with two drinks.