PLACEText: Wong Joon Ian

Shanghai’s independent pop culture scene has been undergoing something of a transformation recently. First, the alternative DJ monthly The Antidote hit grimy Dingxi Lu, giving mavericks and weirdos a place to hang out and to get drunk to excellent left field tunes. Then, a whole slew of new music venues, promoters and indie galleries seemed to open within months of one another. There’s DaSpace, the Yuyintang Warehouse, Shuffle and Logo bars and quite a few more besides.

Now, one of the city’s hip hop pioneers, DJ V-nutz, has opened a freeform music space that’s part-music studio, part-your best friend’s living room, and part-hip hop central, in the heart of the city called The Lab. The best part? You don’t have to pay a cent to jam on the decks, enjoy the cosy, WiFi-equipped loft or hang out on the rooftop patio overlooking central Shanghai.

On weekdays The Lab is open to the public, and anyone can jam on the several pairs of 1200s set up there. V-Nutz, a Shanghai native, and his partner, Fortune, say they will be always on hand to give pointers or share a friendly chat. Every Saturday sees another aspect of hip hop or pop culture take centre-stage; live graffiti performances, MC showcases and turntablism displays from Shangha’s arts and music community have already been scheduled.

“We hope a lot of local people will come. They don’t have to be a music lover, because it’s free, and you don’t lose anything,” V-Nutz says. “Just come and find something you like here.”

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