DJ rings in Lunar New Year with Mandarin and Cantonese dance party

Music brought together Haligonians from different cultural backgrounds

4 min read
A man playing music smiles and the crowd next to him cheers.
caption Eddie Yang (left) smiles and the crowd next to Yang's DJ controller cheers.
Xixi Jiang

Eddie Yang, best known as DJ Swee, celebrated the first night of the Chinese New Year with a Chinese and Southeast Asian dance party at Stillwell Brewing Company.

Beside DJ Swee’s controller, the crowd danced, shook and cheered to the pulsating beats. A long queue formed at the nearby bar, where the bartender poured beer from the tap.

Yang said the event was “the very first time I tried to play a five-hour-long DJ set with all Mandarin and Cantonese music.” The sold-out show attracted about 200 people, he added.

A man plays the DJ controller, and other people look at him and take pictures.
caption Eddie Yang plays the DJ controller, and the audience looks at him and takes pictures.
Xixi Jiang

Yinxing Tian, a master’s student at NSCAD University, celebrated her second Chinese New Year in Halifax at Yang’s party on Saturday.

“It would be great if there were more activities like this in Halifax,” Tian said. “It’s a small city. But I would say there is a big Chinese community. It’s a great opportunity for us to gather together.”

Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday in Chinese culture. The new year is based on the lunisolar calendar, which is the traditional Chinese calendar. In mainland China, the new year holiday is 15 days long — from New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival. This year, it runs from Feb. 9 to Feb. 24.

Tian said she hadn’t been able to feel the Chinese New Year vibe in Halifax, which made her feel homesick for her home in Wuhan, China. But at Yang’s crowded disco party, she felt like she was back in China for a few hours.

“I can feel that not only the Chinese people enjoyed it, but also I somehow feel like the local people enjoyed it more,” she said,

Yang said about half of the audience that came to the party were from Asia and half from other communities.

Ben Currie, from Moncton, N.B., enjoyed the party.

“It’s exciting. The music is awesome,” Currie said. In the summer, he goes to music parties as much as he can. The biggest difference was the event was his first time at a party with Chinese songs.

“I don’t think it makes a big difference though, to be honest,” Currie said.” I think music is music at the end of the day.”

People hands up and dance in the crowd.
caption The audience dances in the crowd at Stillwell Brewing to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Xixi Jiang

Yang agreed.

“Music is a universal language we all speak,” he wrote on his advertising poster.

Zubayr Domun from Mauritius said he learned more about Chinese New Year and Chinese culture at the party.

“It’s pretty cool. There should be more events like this in Halifax,” Domun said, adding he is a fan of Yang’s and attends almost all of his DJ parties. But this time, he came for Chinese music.

“I want to see how Chinese music is. It’s cool to explore other music,” he said.

Chris Reynolds, co-owner of Stillwell Brewing, said there was a great atmosphere at the party.

“It’s just a really cool thing to see both the Chinese community coming out and regular Nova Scotians who are curious about the music and a Lunar New Year party.”

Yang has been a DJ for a decade but only started digging into Chinese music two years ago.

He said it was “very challenging” to select Chinese music for a five-hour party.

Yang is already thinking about another Chinese music dance party.

“We can dance to good music in our own language,” he said. “We had a great Lunar New Year’s Day.”

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About the author

Xixi Jiang

Xixi Jiang, who often goes by Jacky, is from China. She’s a fourth-year student in BJH program at the University of King’s College.

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