In Tune With Anil Ahuja, Music Director of New Hong Kong Club, Trilogy
October 20, 2023
In the daytime, Asia embraces a true hustle culture; by night, we let our hair down and erupt in a magnificent energy to good crowds and good music. In Tune With meets the electric DJs and music makers of Hong Kong and Asia to feel their pulse and uncover why they entered the frenetic nightlife industry.
Anil Ahuja is a verified Hong Kong legend in the city’s nightlife scene, spending more than two decades spinning tracks across your favourite spots. Landing on the DJ decks in Hong Kong in 1996, Anil has floated through every legendary Hong Kong club, including C Top, PLAY, Volar, Fly, and Club 97.
Finding his feverish love for house and hip-hop music in Hong Kong, Anil reigned over former PLAY and Fly nightclubs with memorable sets and banging club music that earned the DJ veteran status in Lan Kwai Fong.
Hong Kong is set to welcome a new music haven on the scene, The Trilogy, a new conceptual music nightlife venue with three spaces, Keyz, Wav, and a soon-to-be-announced speakeasy. It will open its doors on Oct. 28, with Anil taking on a role as music director. The Beat Asia grabbed Anil for a chat to explore his early career in Hong Kong spinning tracks and his excitement to lead a new direction for house music in the new party space.
If you can trace back to your earlier years, how did you find love for DJing and music?
I first came to Hong Kong in 1991, studying in high school, before I left the U.K. in 1994. England has a great nightlife scene, and I would sneak into clubs with a fake ID at 15 years old to soak up the culture. I quickly found love for DJing, mixing tracks in my free time.
After you returned to Hong Kong in the late 1990s, how did your DJing career in the city sprout?
I returned to Hong Kong in 1996, but felt the scene was lacking. I began hosting after-parties at a venue called C Top, spinning record tracks from 11 PM till 12 mid-day. [I made] a lot in commission, which was great!
In 2004, I moved to the first iteration of PLAY nightclub in California Tower in Lan Kwai Fong, playing pop, hip-hop, and house music. When Buzz Concepts opened Fly Club in 2010, I would play Wednesdays and Fridays at PLAY, and Thursdays and Saturdays at Fly.
What was it like to DJ at PLAY and Fly nightclub, two legendary Hong Kong nighttime spaces?
PLAY was a really big club at the time during the 2010s, attracting a mix of local and expat crowds, compared to Fly, which would be less locals. At PLAY, we brought over big artists to play, including Benny Benassi, Lil Jon, Skrillex, and DJ Snake.
I was the first DJ hired to play at Fly, and we had a dozen DJs come and go, playing under me, including Seth Gutierrez, Bravo, and Daryl Griggs. Fly was wild. It was hot and crazy. With love from a more international crowd, we brought over artists like Benga, Scream, and Prodigy, who would resonate with younger clubbers.
How has your style of music changed over time?
The pandemic changed the nightlife scene. I began working with The Code nightclub in Central, changing my genres, my mixing and style of performing. I was a little scared whether Hong Kong was ready to take it. I went all in on dark, deep, and minimal house. But it worked, and we got the right crowd that came and stayed till late.
I joined We Love the City DJing Afro House tunes at rooftop parties at The Arca, Ichu, and Beefbar, taking a new turn for events in Hong Kong.
Tell me about Hong Kong’s latest club, Trilogy! How are you crafting listening and vibe experiences as music director?
I am joining Singular Concepts hospitality group as the music director with the opening of The Trilogy, a new two-story conceptual club in Central, taking over former CARBON on the 26th floor of H Code.
Spread over three different rooms, Trilogy houses Keyz, a funky nightlife club overlooking the Victoria Harbour, WAV, a rooftop bar, and a soon-to-be announced speakeasy.
Ella will serve great cocktails and soothing tunes from 6 PM till 10 PM, while the WAV rooftop will be open from 7 PM till 11 PM. At WAV, I want to start nights with mixing minimal and melodic house tunes, playing Afro House in the early hours, before ending with deep and electronic house.
We want you to step in at 6 PM and not leave 5 AM, come for nibbles and happy hour, rooftop drinks, and party all night long. The entertainment has got to be on point. We aim to keep people excited with the music journey, from how they come into the speakeasy, the rooftop, and into the club to party.
Keyz is set to open on Oct. 28, with Wav opening in mid-November, so keep your eyes out for the opening Halloween party!
How optimistic are you for the full revival and return of Hong Kong nightlife?
Yes, but we need bigger and better clubs. Small clubs with low ceilings have been done in Lan Kwai Fong, and the trend in Asia is towards bigger clubs with higher ceilings. That is when we can get proper international acts and show off Hong Kong as a party city.
The Trilogy is the start of a great project to revive the great partying we were used to years ago in Hong Kong.
To catch Anil DJing at the hottest and most exclusive parties in Hong Kong, check out his Instagram to keep up!
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