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Rave new world

13 December, 2019 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Troi Lee will be DJing at Deaf Rave on New Year’s Eve

IF you hear thumping bass coming from Colours Hoxton on New Year’s Eve – there’s a good reason.

Troi Lee – aka DJ Chinaman – is preparing for a New Year’s Eve rave with a difference, bringing his much-loved Deaf Rave to see in the next decade.

“I want to see everybody get together how we used to party back in the day. If we don’t do a party in London in New Year, there ain’t no party for deaf people in London, so I have to do it,” says Troi.“I want to give these people a great party where they have nowhere else to go on that night – that hasn’t happened for a couple of years.”

A supporter of deaf talent, Troi has lined up a number of deaf performers and DJs for the NYE party.

“We’ve got sign language rap, signed songs… I’ve also been trying to develop a showcase in my parties because we’ve got all these wonderful talents but they don’t have a platform to perform on.”

The line-up includes Signkid, MC Geezer, Deaf CultureKingz, Rosie P and an array of DJs – with the bass turned up so vibrations can be felt for the most profoundly deaf.

Troi said: “We want to break the myth in the hearing world that deaf people can’t enjoy music.

“The myth is, how do deaf people hear music?

“There are all different types of deafness. Everyone can enjoy music in many different ways – you can hear it, feel it, visualise it. My performers are the future generation and they’re enjoying what they love doing. It’s the perfect opportunity to get them on stage to show what they are about, because it had to be done.”

Troi, who was born severely deaf, founded Deaf Rave after spotting a gap in the market for something similar.

Relying on two hearing aids, he comes from a musical family – his brother is a drummer and he would learn from his older DJ cousins.

Aged 18 he was attending huge jungle raves, buying his first turntable in his 20s and soon found a passion for garage music.

“I grew up into pirate radio stations,” he said.

“I wasn’t a DJ but I used to watch the DJs and MCs doing all the shoutouts on the airwaves. That’s where I learned my music from, these guys in Hackney.

“It was like a hub, I was the only deaf person out of the whole lot… I probably only met one deaf person in that 10-year period at a rave.”

Things were different with his deaf friends.

“I was just a normal deaf person, wanting to go out and party, we’re humans.

“But the situation with my deaf community was a completely different ballgame. For many years, the deaf community’s social gatherings weren’t much to do with music, it was more going to the pub once a month.”

The pub scene experience was mixed – it brought together friends for “bubbly” nights but, at times, drink communica­tion issues with staff would lead to trouble and they would be banned from various venues.

Troi’s enthusiasm for raving hit a setback in 2002 when he convinced his friends to go to a club but they were denied entry for being deaf.

“That was the first time in my life I felt discriminated against – I felt discrimination and oppression from that public space,” said Troi.

“I said, ‘That’s bang out of order, I’m going to do my own rave one day’, and that’s what happened in 2003. I got a group of deaf people and said, ‘We’ve gone through these problems in the past, pubs banning us, not getting into nightclubs because we’re deaf. It’s time to set up our own rave and I need you guys to help me’, and they said, ‘Yeah, we’re up for it’.”

Since then Troi has worked hard to reach isolated communities and his first Deaf Rave attracted deaf clubbers from around the world.

Now, he is extending the night to festivals and held his first Deaf Rave festival show at All Points East last year.

He said: “We completely smashed it for all ages, with children, that was my ultimate dream come true. So that’s one of my tick boxes complete. We’re growing, man, my ultimate dream is coming into place. I’ve worked my ass off for 16 years to do this. I had my dreams, my faith, my ups and downs, I had some very good people around me to keep going and motivate me, I had a few good mentors, and without those guys there I don’t think it would have happened, but I kept that dream alive and kept that belief going and they encouraged me to keep going with it.”

Deaf Rave’s NYE Colours party will raise funds for the British Society for Mental Health and Deafness.

Information and tickets from


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