Rec Room relaunches with a live streaming platform

Yinmai O'Connor talks to the team about taking on Boiler Room

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 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 streaming platform and big ambitions.

Rec originally opened as an underground alternative for Sanlitun partygoers. 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 experimental types of electronic music [around the country]. Rec 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 Chinese artists.


Do you plan on live streaming every event?

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 the dancefloor!

Do you have any plans to bring in international acts?

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.

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