Beijing to Berlin: One Chinese DJ’s Journey to the West
China, Where Your Dreams Fly
When Deng Yun Luen, aka BB Deng, first discovered her love for electronic music in Taipei, it was unusual for a woman to be in the DJ booth. Born in Hong Kong, BB moved to her family home in Taiwan aged 11. It was as a student there that BB made her first forays as a DJ, doing for fun what would later define her career when she moved to the Chinese mainland.
“I’d always wanted to come to Beijing to discover my roots,” says BB, who had a keen interest in Chinese cinema and ’80s Chinese rock music at the time. She won a place on a Master’s degree program at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy, and wasted no time in involving herself in the city’s rich cultural scene. She played her first DJ set there at a live music café in the university area in 2003.
“Back then I organised several female artists events and all-girl DJ nights in Beijing because I wanted to create more opportunities for other talented women who I admired,” she says. BB herself was DJing regularly at the time, and even started an all-girl electroclash band, but her big turning point in Beijing came in 2013, when she started DM, her own music brand, and began organising regular events. As DM grew, BB ran music stages at INTRO, China’s first festival of electronic music, and Strawberry Music Festival, the biggest and oldest music festival in the country. “This not only gave me a platform to DJ to a bigger audience, it also helped grow my professional network and understand better how the industry works,” she says.
Soon, everyone wanted BB to rock the decks at their Beijing venue, and she was being invited to play at more prestigious events, culminating in performances at the Great Wall of China in front of thousands of international festival goers. “DJing on the Great Wall was a magical experience,” she says., “The mountain landscape echoing with electronic music, it was this amazing contrast of history, nature and technology.”
As BB’s DJ career grew in Beijing, she made her first international appearances on several European DJ tours, at clubs and festivals in the Netherlands, France, Finland, Austria, Croatia and Spain. It was on these tours that she played Berlin for the first time, and was immediately taken with the German capital. “Berlin is simply the best city for electronic music in the world because the industry is so mature, and artists have this great freedom to express themselves,” she says.
Berlin’s electronic music roots go back to the early 1980s, but over the past 10 years the scene has really taken off, and today it’s thought to have more nightclubs than any other city (including renowned venue Berghain, voted the world’s best club), and is considered the birthplace of techno music. The New York Times called Berlin “the capital of electronic music” in an article in 2018 about the rise of female DJs in the city.
When not DJing or running her brand, BB is producing, writing and remixing techno tracks, one of which was picked up by a major label in Berlin in 2017. At the same time, BB signed up with a British DJ equipment manufacturer to become their first Chinese ambassador.
In 2018, as her Beijing career was at its peak, BB made the momentous decision to leave her adopted home and move to Berlin. “I just had to get closer to the centre of electronic music instead of just dreaming about it from far away,” she says. After several months in Berlin, BB secured a special work visa for creatives and found an apartment in one of the city’s artier districts. Already she has performed in several clubs, and played the annual Zug Der Liebe, a version of the city’s renowned Love Parade party.
“The start of something new is never easy but I’m working on my German and I have made many new Berliner friends here who have been really supportive,” she says. BB’s connection to Beijing remains strong; she regularly flies back from Berlin to perform at parties in the Chinese capital, and also to bring European artists to China to share their work with a new audience via ‘YUN Music’, her Europe-to-Asia booking agency. “Beijing is one of the most artistic cities in China, and it’s a place where you can dive deep into the local lifestyle,” says BB. “It’s the perfect place to introduce other talents. Plus, I miss the food and the cheap taxis!”
Over the past 10 years, BB has followed her dreams across continents, always believing in herself while staying self-motivated and disciplined at every step of the way. “From my point of view, physical distance is not the biggest challenge; to get closer and closer to whatever your dreams are, that is the biggest challenge we have to try to achieve,” she says.
Balancing a DJ career with perhaps one day starting a family is the biggest challenge faced by aspiring female DJs, says BB. “I would say be independent, open-minded, tough and proud to show your talents even if you are the only woman in a situation,” she says.
In 2018, Hainan Airlines celebrates 10 years connecting Berlin to Beijing directly, helping people such as BB Deng realise their dreams every day. “Did I mention that Hainan is the airline I take most between the two cities?” adds BB. “Being able to close my eyes in Beijing and wake up in Berlin means more time to spend on doing the things that matter to me.”
Hainan Airlines is celebrating 10 years of direct flights between Berlin and Beijing. Click here to book your next adventure.
Hainan Airlines - Fly Your Dreams
For the eighth consecutive year, Hainan Airlines has received the Five Star Airline rating from the prestigious SKYTRAX World Airline Awards. The airline is the first, and only, mainland Chinese operator to stay in the SKYTRAX World Top 10 Airlines, with this year’s ranking increasing to 8th, from 9th in 2017.
Founded in 1993, Hainan Airlines has had a strong safety record in over 25 years of operations, equivalent to more than six million hours in the air, across 1,800 domestic and international routes to more than 220 cities worldwide.