dakou culture

dakou culture
By the end of the twentieth century a new generation emerged in urban China, named after the cut CDs, dumped from the West to be used as surplus plastic, available at illegal markets in Chinese cities. The cut at the margin of these dakou CDs, as they are called in Chinese, brings this young generation to the centre of a global music culture. Dakou stands for far more than just an illegal CD, it stands for a lifestyle very much en vogue among China’s urban youth. Dakou is not just a metaphor for the ambiguity of the globalization of popular music, the CDs also cut open a new era for what is coined in Beijing as the New Sound Movement (see New Sound Movement, Modern Sky Records).
When China moved on from the 1980s towards the 1990s, the idea of being liumang (a hooligan) was celebrated in the work of Wang Shuo.
At the start of the new century the term has lost its aura. The dakou label is unsuitable for such ‘oldies’ as Cui Jian and Wang Shuo, as it refers to the generation born during or after the Cultural Revolution. What is strikingly different between the liumang and the dakou generation is not only the direct reference to music, but also—and especially—the inclusion of the illegal West in a ‘Chinese’ concept. The dakou culture challenges established binaries such as local/global, as the CD is both specifically Western and specifically Chinese. To be dakou is to be both global (the music) and local (the cut). The cut deforms the circle; something is missing, yet as a listener one gets more, because through this CD Chinese youth enter a domain of illegality.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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