THE PEOPLE’S PARTY
takes his first trip to Beijing, where he experiences an entirely new side to la dolce vita
BEIJING, WHAT A CITY! I’d heard many tales over the years and last month finally had the good fortune to experience this remarkable capital for the first time. The purpose of my visit was as grand an occasion as I could hope for. I was there to DJ at a magnificent event for the internationally renowned and highly esteemed luxury Italian fashion house, Tod’s.
I was collected from the airport and taken to my hotel. En route I marvelled at the size and scale of this vast city, which, as I later discovered, was the perfect prelude to the epic production I was about to experience.
Tod’s was celebrating its year-long collaboration with the esteemed Teatro Alla Scala, which had resulted in the arrestingly beautiful film, An Italian Dream. The film, which was receiving its Chinese premiere, was directed by Matthias Zentner, choreographed by Gianluca Schiavoni and features 13 ballet dancers from the company who interpret – through various dance moves – the multiple steps that go into the making of a Tod’s product. The Teatro Alla Scala was inaugurated in 1778 and continues today as the home of opera and ballet in Italy.
The premiere took place at Tank 751, a vast disused water tank in the heart of Beijing’s art district. The production team from Tod’s had done a spectacular job of transforming the tank especially for the night into a conceptual rendition of Teatro Alla Scala’s historic venue. A semicircular stage in the centre of the tank was set against a theatrical backdrop of red velvet curtains, while the surrounding walls contained projections of the theatre boxes, complete with animated images of patrons. Every now and again these projections would fade out, only to be replaced by the dreamlike, spectral silhouettes of ballet dancers, all of which was done to mesmerising effect.
The evening began with a cocktail reception and dinner for 200 VIPs, which included the president of the Tod’s Group, Diego Della Valle, Hollywood actress and Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Chinese actress Zhou Xun, Hong Kong actress Carina Lau and Brazilian model Alice Dellal, as well as countless other guests from the worlds of fashion, arts, music, politics, business and cinema.
As the dinner drew to an end, the other guests began to arrive at the reception hall in anticipation of the main performance. Following the premiere there was a pas-de-deux performance onstage by Teatro all Scala’s principal ballerina Sabrina Brazzo, and lead ballet dancer Marco Messina. This exclusive performance had been created specially for the Chinese premiere by choreographer Gianluca Schiavoni.
The performance was extremely well received by the audience, who showed their appreciation with thunderous applause. Then, once the ovation began to subside, it was my cue to hit the play button and get the party started.
My brief had been simple and concise: “We want a party, so make ’em dance.” Coincidentally that just happens to be my favourite brief, so I was firing on all guns as I delivered a storming set of rocking electro tunes, mixing old with new, and all the while ensuring that I provided the perfect complement to the dramatic and theatrical atmosphere of the venue. The guests quickly filled the stage where they remained, dancing the night away.