Monday February 1, 2021

By: Naiia Lajoie

While many were turning their homes into a personal sanctuary to maintain sanity throughout the pandemic, British DJ John Robinson was creating a virtual one, lending to the efforts of keeping the masses sane while also garnering support for noble causes.

Many Filipinos might remember John as the young DJ who took the Philippine nightclub scene by storm in the late 1980’s, particularly at the city’s first super club Rumors. All he describes, “For many years – I only wanted to play what was new and hot.” After his departure from the Philippines however, his mantra shifted to revisiting certain eras spanning his career, as he went on to create millions of records in Japan and Asia, both as a recording artist (with seven solo albums) and a DJ/Producer/Remixer.

DJ John has worked with numerous A-listers, among which are Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, and Ferry Corsten who were all guests at his Planet Love After Hours venue in Tokyo. He has also collaborated on projects with major artists such as Julio Iglesias, Lionel Richie, and MC Hammer to name a few. In addition to these various DJ & recording projects, John hosted his own TV & radio show while also performing for 50,000 people at the Tokyo Dome.

After playing his authentic 80s sets for the Philippines, the 90s techno sets & 00s classic trance sets for Japan, and “open-format-play” for gigs at Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, The Flamingo, and Linq in Las Vegas, DJ John and his family returned home to Manila in 2018. There he secured a successful six month residency at the Okada Hotel’s Cove, while then transitioning to special events, corporate shows, and returning to his regular tours of Japan. But then the pandemic changed everything.

On the eve of the first lockdown in Manila, clickthecity. com reports that DJ John was inspired by the news coverage coming out of Italy; of Italians performing on their balconies for their neighbors during the COVID-19 lockdown. DJ John too wanted to do something positive during the pandemic, thus Sanctuary was born. Broadcasting online 3 times a week – live every Friday and Saturday night from 9 P.M. and Sunday morning from 10 A.M. at www.twitch.tv/ officialdjjohnrobinson – Sanctuary is a free “virtual nightclub experience” targeted at an older demographic.

“Most of our viewers are probably 40 and up, and the music reflects that” describes DJ John. And it goes beyond an auditory one-way experience; the chat room is abuzz during the broadcasts, with more than 10,000 messages flying by during DJ John’s set on Saturdays. Viewers reveal Sanctuary has become their lifeline during the pandemic, calling themselves “Sanctuarians”.

Not only has the online party community grown around the world, the show has also helped many people in need throughout the pandemic. Also serving as a fundraiser for various charities, DJ John has spearheaded a number of campaigns. To date, Sanctuary has raised nearly $100,000 for a variety of desperate causes, including successfully rendering aid to Philippines cities and provinces that suffered the brunt of Typhoon Ulysses.

Sanctuary chose two Feast Mercy Ministries – “a unique, non-physical, borderless, world-wide community of friends who support each other’s personal growth through daily Bible Readings and reflections” as per their Facebook page – as its beneficiary for its free live stream via Twitch on July 3, 2020. The two ministries were Anawim, a home for the abandoned elderly, and the Jeremiah Foundation, a shelter for sexual abuse victims. After a series of retro beats from DJ John, Bo Sanchez came onscreen for an interview at 10 P.M., wherein Bo shared how Anawim and Jeremiah started, along with their ongoing mission to help the poverty-stricken.

People tuning into the live stream were encouraged to donate to these ministries, and the different streams through which they could were shared onscreen as DJ John was jamming to 80s and 90s club hits. They were able to raise over P70,000 for Anawim and Jeremiah. This development was a joint effort between DJ John and his long-time producing partner, Dodo Melicor of DM Entertainment; a Feast attendee, and was supported by Trick Entertainment. All in all, aside from being an online source of much needed mind-distracting music, Sanctuary has also grown into a movement aimed at helping so many of those most in need. As the American physician and poet Debasish Mridha says, “Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch”.

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