China was the first country where I travelled alone. It all started when a chinese agency saw my dance videos and photos in a russian social network and offered me to work as a resident DJ in a chinese nightclub after visiting a DJ school in Shenzhen, a major financial center in southern China. Since I have sense of rhythm and look european, which Chinese consider as very beautiful, the agency predicted my success as a female DJ there.
They provided air-tickets, food, accommodation and a really good salary. Since I needed money and wanted to travel Asia, I agreed.
Right now I can truly say that it was one of the best decisions in my life.
In a month, after my visa was done and my mom was reassured that nobody was going to kidnap me, I arrived to Hong Kong from where I traveled by ferry to Shenzhen.My chinese agents gave me a warm welcome by meeting me and providing a hostel. For chinese agencies dealing with foreign artists such a concern is rather an exception than a rule. Usually singers, Djs, dancers and other entertainers look for an apartment by their own and remind all the time to their chinese bosses to pay them salary in time. Luckily I haven’t faced something like that.
Next few months I was learning how to dj mostly with a help of youtube since chinese couldn't-care-less attitude provided me and 2 other future Djs with CDJ machine without any tutor. We managed to learn it somehow (pretty bad actually!) and passed Dj exam from our “Dj-school”. Djs in China look a way different than world famous Djs. As a female DJ you are supposed to wear Lady Gaga style clothes and the same time to dance as Go-Go. I was 19 and it was really entertaining for me to look like a freak celebrity every evening.
For 4 month I was living in Shenzhen, working as a resident Dj in Shajing Soho night club. At first my hands were sweating and legs were trembling since I was mixing tracks in a very amateurish way and was very ashamed of that. I used to dance a lot when I was working as Go Go in Ukraine, that’s why I was not afraid to perform in public. However, Djs do quite a difficult job finding energetic tracks and mixing them to wake up the dancefloor. I personally can find nice music but still I can not mix it in a way like Hardwell or Armin van Buuren do. Do not underestimate DJs!
That is how I was djing in Shenzhen
Working as a DJ in Shajing Soho
In Shenzhen I met an American who worked for a language school. He introduced me to the school owner, who hired me as language assistant. More about my experiences and about teaching English in China read here.
According to my DJ contract, I had to change cities once in 3 month. They sent me to work to a Hainan island to another Soho club. That club had just opened and they were in need of “new faces” there. Next 2 months I lived in Qionghai — in a very small super-authentic chinese city. By authentic I mean that I was the single foreigner there and one of those 10 people in all city who could communicate in English. It was really funny on the one hand to use google translator all the time and to live surrounded by coconut trees, but on the other hand I felt really lonely there since my chinese was bad. Wherever I went, I was always in the center of attention. People were constantly taking photos of me, trying to touch me and once an old chinese lady took my hand and kissed it.
My only company were guys from the club, all chinese. They tried to learn english from me, while I was deeply into hieroglyphs and pinyin. Living in Qionghai was something totally new for me since I have never lived with people I cannot really talk to. This experience led me to go into psychology of communication and cultural awareness, for what I am very thankful right now.
Promo photoshooting for a new Soho night club
I went to China in May 2014 and came back home in December 2014, when my contract was over. In a few months I moved to Germany. Even right now living in Central Europe, I still miss my huge multicultural China and friends I made there.
Read more about chinese people and cultural specifics if you consider China as your next travel destination in my next post.