After Mo Lounge closed its
doors over two years ago, the
prime Sanlitun Bar Street
location below Kokomo collected
dust until Danny Flora and El-mar
Bengal – the guys behind party
crew NB Noise – turned it into an
electronic music venue in November
of last year. Frustrated at the lack
of underground options in Beijing,
they founded Rec Room, which was
designed to provide a much-needed
alternative to the plethora of gaudy
Gongti dance spots in the area.
After a successful first few
months, Rec Room closed for the
summer to allow for extensive
renovations. The team have since
upgraded the layout, visuals, and
bar menu while still keeping it an
affordable spot – expect to pay
around 25RMB for a Tsingtao;
cocktails from 30RMB.
Flora and Bengal have also
renamed the venue Rec Room.live to support their new live streaming
platform, which is coordinated by
new team member Rowan McCann,
who has a background in tech startups.
Similar to the Boiler Room
series, you’ll be able to watch sets
online if you can’t be
at the club yourself.
We talk to the trio
about the new live
and big ambitions.
opened as an
Has that changed?
El-mar Bengal: The
objective is still to provide an
underground alternative in Sanlitun.
But the scope is much wider now
with the inclusion of live streaming.
We hope to influence the musical
tastes of people throughout China,
especially those who don’t live in
the big cities with access to good
DJ venues. We will keep the decks
open to any non-commercial music
or artists. There’s plenty of places to
hear that stuff already
in Beijing, but there are
so few places to get
your fix of alternative,
underground or more
of electronic music
[around the country].
Rec Room.live will be the place to get your
fix – offline or on.
Tell us about the live
streaming aspect. Is
this just another Boiler Room?
Danny Flora: There are already
quite a few live streaming platforms
popular in other countries that
have really helped the underground
music industry. Boiler Room is huge
in Europe, [and there’s] Migmag
Lab in the USA and Dommune in
Japan. We were definitely inspired
by these platforms, but we hope to
create something unique to China
and focus on showcasing local
Do you plan on live streaming
Rowan McCann: We plan to
stream mainly on weekdays in the
beginning, but we will record audio
and video for all events. Our multi-cam
and mic setup will capture every
aspect of each party in all its glory.
We will also have a bilingual host
who will be streaming via mobile
and interacting with the online
viewers, partygoers and the artists
performing in the club. A number of
strategically placed live-streaming
iPads around the DJ booth will allow
the crowd to interact with the online
audience as well. We also plan to do
pre- and post-party interviews with
the artists. Our aim is for everyone
to be able to interact and enjoy the
events, regardless of whether or not
they were there on the night.
What are some of the highlights
of the renovated venue?
DF: The main focus is the newly built
and positioned DJ booth. Custom-made
and over two metres long, the
booth will take centre stage smack
bang in the middle of the dancefloor.
We want to immerse the crowd in
the experience – they’ll be able to
dance and party all around the DJ
with no barriers.
We have also reconfigured the
layout of the space in a number
of key areas to create a more
intimate environment. Rec will
be split into two key areas: the
dancefloor and the bar area. Before,
there was no real separation and it
was very open-plan. We noticed a
lot of people would be intimidated
upon entering the club as they
would literally step straight onto
Do you have any plans to bring in
EB: Absolutely, yes. We’re definitely
going to host some international
acts. But we mainly want to
focus on interesting local China-based
artists – both DJs and
live performers – to promote the
underground dance music industry
and artists here in China.