The History of Monkeyfunk China..according to James (aka Daddy Vegas)

The first batch of big funk party in mainland China that I took part in was in Beijing at The Velvet Room in 1998, a wicked venue with a jazz club upstairs - now all sadly gone. Matt McGarvey, the hairdresser, was behind those parties at the Velvet Room, him and DJ Weng Weng, and we have all stayed working together putting on nights right up today. The Velvet Room parties went down well and built up most of the foundation of support for all future parties up there we did together. The biggest English language magazine up there - That'sBeijing - got involved after we all worked on a big end of year Charity Funk Throwdowns in Beijing at Club FM, for the Tibeten Poverty Alleviation Fund (www.tpaf.org). ThatsBeijing had the marketing fairly stitched up and rolled in a day's skiing with the ticket price. That first charity party came off the back of the previous underground parties we did together which combined with That's marketing clout produced something special. After that night we, Matt, That's and me decided to keep going with funk nights every now and again.I asked Hugo at Monkeyfunk London if I could do Monkeyfunks of my own and he was bang up for it and we now share artwork and knowledge of funk on a daily basis.

From the warm reception that heavy funk sets got up there Monkeyfunk China was born then, a tight operation - not many guest DJs but a good local following. Music on the night varied - I played funk, jazz and latin with a heavy emphasis on funk, but DJ Vnutz, the other mainstay, mixed up funk and breaks brilliants - he was China DMC DJ champ in 2002. I'm not adverse to using compilations if the sound quality if good or if that's the only place I can get the track, but there were literally hundred of proper job funk 45s rarities at the center of every Monkeyfunk in China. No point slacking just because you're away from home!

In all there were about 7 or 8 Monkeyfunks and other funk parties in Beijing, and about 12 or so in Shanghai. Monkeyfunk in Shanghai started during the SARs 'epidemic'. All the bars in Shanghai we're closed by the police to stop the virus spreading (factories stayed open though - thorough job boys!). However, I found a basement in one bar that didn't close and then surreptitiously started the emailing and text campaign. Needless to stay with all the other places closed we were packed like sardines and ran out of booze around 11.30. Monkeyfunk then hopped around clubs taking in a new one each month. It went pretty well and we ended up filling a club called Fusion with 850 in mid-2003 for a party that Hugo flew out to play at.

The final home of Monkeyfunk was a club called Mural (
www.muralbar.com), also in Shanghai and still going. It was their busiest night ever when we put it on at the end of 2003 and they asked me to stay on as a resident, which I did, doing Monkeyfunk's and other nights (Latin Boogie and Downbeat being two) for them. DJ Vnutz was a big part of Monkeyfunk to, a rare breed in China - a young man well up on his funk and with a finger firmly on the pulse there and in Japan and elsewhere. Big up to Vnutz, cheers mate!

Stayed on at Mural full time into the Spring of 2004 and then dropped the other nights and went on with Monkeyfunk on a monthly basis there - the last one was in November. Others who guested at Monkeyfunk China include Steve Barker (
www.onthewire.uk.com), Oliver Wang (DJ O-Dub), Wassabi Nut, and Hugo Currie (Monkeyfunk London).

There are no record shops in China, none, no second hand markets to look for records and no tangible local knowledge about different styles of soul music. It is slowly changing, with people like Vnutz leading the way. But I decided to leave China and head to Spain. I'll go back every now and again because it too much of a laugh not to but for now thanks to all people who came and got down. Big 'thank you's to Flora, Gary, Jerry, Carsten, Oliver, Jerry at That's, Maiko, Yuko, Weng Weng, Matt McGarvey, the various good souls who accommodated us, Drew, Steve B., for everything.