If you go to the Terrace Thai Cuisine and Live Music Restaurant at Sea World after 9 p.m., you may probably encounter a Canadian singer performing both English and Chinese songs on stage, full of energy and passion. That guy is Leon Durupt, one of the restaurant’s two partners who has been focusing on live music in Shenzhen for 16 years.
Durupt’s story in China began as early as 1996, when he landed a job as a singer in Shanghai. He spent a year and a half singing in Shanghai and seven years in Qingdao in Shandong Province. In 2005, Durupt moved to Shenzhen after being invited to jointly open a live music restaurant in the city.
“There weren’t many Thai food restaurants in Shenzhen. And when I was in Bangkok, I saw some live music venues with Thai food. In addition, I think Thai food is more palatable for Chinese customers. That’s why I combined these two things together,” he said.
“I personally recruited the band and hired some Thai chefs, so as to make both our music and cuisine as authentic as possible. However, live music was the number one thing for me, and I wanted it to be the restaurant’s signature,” Durupt said.
According to Durupt, most of the band members are from the Philippines, as he believed they have good exposure to Western music, which was built into their culture to some extent. Another reason was, many Filipinos could speak both Mandarin and Cantonese.
With Sea World undergoing tremendous changes over the last 16 years, Durupt’s restaurant, however, didn’t change its location, Thai food and live music.
“When our restaurant was opened, the surrounding buildings and apartments were not built. Thus, I had a clear view of the sea and Hong Kong from the balcony of my apartment at the foot of Dananshan Mountain. Unfortunately, I lost the sea view, and I moved to a new sea-view apartment nearby. But the good thing is the property owner of Sea World and the government have made Sea World more modern and vibrant through big renovations. And I’m also very happy to see our customers becoming more ‘sophisticated’ in music appreciation and more music venues opened nearby and across the city, which is a reflection of the elevation of cultural level of Shenzhen,” Durupt said.