the Unique
Communities of
Underground China

Photos by WangWei

From underground ping-pong clubs in downtown Shanghai, to record shops run by indie music labels, we shine a spotlight on the unique community spaces run by China’s young creatives.

Standard Nerds Club

Tucked away down a quiet side street in downtown Shanghai, Standard Nerds Club is a ping-pong studio and art space. SNC’s devoted community group works with artists and designers to create custom tables and paddles, and host games nights and events for the surrounding neighbourhood.

What made you set up Standard Nerds Club?

Toto Duan: I am very keen on playing ping-pong and my job is a fashion designer, so I had already started preparing for a ping-pong fashion brand before coming back to China. However, I encountered some difficulties in finding suitable places and partners to play ping-pong in China so I was determined to establish an open-minded ping-pong community for youth amateurs.

What kind of music do you play when playing ping-pong?

Toto Duan: I usually listen to Jazz.
Xiao Bai: Old-School Hip-Hop or ‘80s Cantonese songs.

Which musician / music style is your favourite?

Toto Duan: I love Cuco, Frank Ocean, Tyler The Creator and FKA twigs.
Xing Yue: My favourite musician is Khalil Fong. And I like Soul and Funk that I can dance to.
Xiao Bai: My favourite music styles are Hip-Hop and Cantopop. The Notorious B.I.G and Tyler The Creator are my favourite rappers, and the Cantonese musician Sam Hui is my hero.


Founded by Peace & Wave guitarist, Xiao Yu, AFDT is an art space and home away from home for the band and their local community. Housed in Shanghai’s Jing'an district, it’s a safe space for people to get together and work on creative projects.

What kind of atmosphere have you created at AFDT art stage?

Xiao Yu: We want to nurture youthful talent and want them to be themselves under the influence of AFDT.

What is your process for making new music with Peace & Wave?

Xiao Yu: We are very spontaneous. Sometimes we make music by improvisation, sometimes one of us will take the lead.
Zhang Jian: Actually, writing a song is similar to writing a book. Creating music is just like writing a diary to me.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?

Xiao Yu: PHONY PPL live in Fuji Rock, 2019. It was quite unforgettable.
Da Bao: Oddisee live in Shanghai MAO Live House.
Si Wei: Benny Sings live in Thailand last year impressed me deeply. He bridged the gap between youth bands and professional musicians. His performance was very confident.

Which song defines the teenage you?

Xiao Yu: ‘Fall back down’ by Rancid.
Da Bao: The Chinese version of ‘Sadness in Your Eyes’ by Kirka
Si Wei: ‘Wana’ by The Back Horn.
Zhang Jian: ‘Not Ready To Make Nice’ by The Chicks. This was the first song I transcribed when I learned guitar. Transcribing a song is a really good way to improve music theory.

Mintone Records

After founding his record label of the same name, 2G3 wanted a space to listen to new music and hang out with friends. Set up in partnership with several local musicians, Mintone Records is a record store/café by day and cocktail bar/live music space by night.

Tell Us About Mintone Records

Gavintoo: Mintone is an emotional records company in my eyes. It produces good music to heal hearts and make people's lives better.
Major: I like the atmosphere of Mintone the most. It allows me to focus on making music.
2G3: Mintone is an indie label that always delivers a sense of relief, refreshing talent and fulfilment.

What’s the best song to bring people together?

2G3: ‘Never Forget’ by Take That.
Major: ‘Killing In The Name’ by Rage Against the Machine.
Dizkar: ‘Welcome to Beijing’.

If you could be on the line up with any musician in history, who would you choose?

Major: Miles Davis; J Dilla; Madlib; Flying Lotus.
Dizkar: J Dilla.
Gavintoo: Faye Wong.