Zhao Dai On Leave is the best electronic music festival of its kind in the region. The underground scene in China is still relatively new, and it’s become fertile ground for sonic experimentation. This festival provides a pin-drop of China’s burgeoning scene.

Chosen for: Innovation.

In 2023, the music industry is still reckoning with changes catalysed by the pandemic. During the lockdowns, new ways of connection were forged online – a wash of Zoom calls, live streams and digital clubs. In China, Beijing club Zhao Dai formed a different idea: an annual IRL festival on the beaches of Qin Huang Dao, located northeast of Beijing.

Zhao Dai on Trippin 50

Zhao Dai first opened as a club in Beijing in 2017. It was designed to bring something new to the capital, an “open space for open minds”. In comparison to the storied histories of club communities around the world, China’s underground scene is still relatively new but has, in recent years, grown significantly and gained much more recognition outside of the country. The Shanghai-based record label SVBKVLT was first founded in 2013, while Genome 6.66Mbp began in 2016. Both labels have helped to pin China onto the electronic map.

The pandemic has changed China’s club landscape in many ways, and a proliferation of venues has opened up since. Zhao Dai’s response to indoor restrictions in 2020 was to launch Zhao Dai Seaside, later renamed to Zhao Dai On Leave: a festival that united a community of ravers on the beach. Nature and the outdoors became a “nucleus of community building” for the club’s team. The inaugural event hosted 45 artists from China’s fast-growing scene, and a plethora of venues: from Shanghai's Elevator and All, to Shenzhen's Oil and Chengdu's Tag.

Details of the 2023 edition are yet to be announced, but Zhao Dai On Leave has marked itself out as the best event of its kind in the country, offering the rave scene a space for some of electronic music’s most fundamental values: community and connection.

Zhao Dai is set to return in May 2023. Dates are yet to be announced.

Zhao Dai on Trippin 50