Sports & Entertainment
A weird bar scene
  • | | November 20, 2009 01:40 AM

The other night, my wife and I came to pick up a couple of friends for a late night hangout.  First, they asked us to take them to a relative’s house for some unexpected business.


Of course, we granted this kind request with enthusiasm and headed towards an under-developed suburb outside the Red River's dykes, which we had never visited despite our years of living in Hanoi.  We were informed that it would take approximately 45 minutes, and as such, decided to go out and find a cafe where we could wait for them.

As we drove further down the constricted street to find a space where we could U-turn, we were signaled to a parking space by some security guards near the street.  We glanced across the street and could soon see that they had mistaken us for guests that were going to a bar called, "DJ CLUB."  The place looked interesting enough, with many well dressed people coming and going, so I decided that this seemed a better option than spending 45 minutes sipping on coffee.

We entered the club and the first floor was packed, so we moved on to the second floor where we found a table with a full view of the lower floor.  Apparently, there was no bar on either floor where we could simply sit and order drinks. A waiter eventually approached us and asked what we would like to drink. We ordered two beers and he offered us a fruit plate to accompany the beers.  I was already aware of the funny custom of eating fruits in bars around Vietnam but was still stunned and could not contain my smile while assuring him we would pass.

As we waited for our drinks, we looked down and saw a stage with not one, but three DJ's working hard, side by side. It seemed as if one of them could have been a VJ, similar to those found in many nightclubs in other countries, but in fact, the big screen shining behind him was only playing fashion parades. Another one was working on a laptop computer, and if I didn't know any better, he was simply surfing the web.  All of them barely even moved to their music, and looked about as enthusiastic as a grandmother at a nightclub.

The music was deafening electronic house stuff that you might hear in a hardcore disco however, in this place, there was hardly any space to dance, even if you wanted to.  The entire floor was packed with round tables and people sat firmly on stools surrounding them, just like your average coffee shop, and most would barely mover their feet, much less try to feel the groove.

Despite this, no one here was drinking coffee, yet alone cocktails.  The tables looked almost identical with at least one large bottle of liquor, usually whisky, brandy, bottled water, and of course, A BIG FRUIT PLATE...

Don't underestimate the popularity of beer in Vietnam.  Many people like beer very much and would drink lots of it at most establishments, but in many bars and nightclubs, it has become the common understanding that you have to order expensive liqour by the bottle to show that you are a "player," or you might be looked down on if you drink anything else, especially something less expensive.

We continued to watch the crowd curiously from the upper floor and soon realised that what we were doing was one of the main activities here.  Talking amongst ourselves was virtually impossible due to the loud music.  Most people would secretly, and sometimes openly look around to see what other people were doing, which in fact turned out not to be much.  To my assessment, most people weren't enjoying the seemingly compulsory liquor and fruit agenda, nor the inability to talk or dance, yet it seemed they still forced themselves to appear to be having fun since this was how "fun" might be defined at this club.

All in all, this was aninteresting experience for us, but undeniably, it was a little-bit weird.  My biggest disappointment about all of this: I couldn't seem to spot any of the beautiful, sexy ladies that had enticed us to enter the club in the first place. Perhaps if they could move their bodies a little more in this packed nightclub, it would be easier for me and other people to comprehend how much they had invested in their dresses and makeup for the evening..... 

A weird night in a weird bar. 

By Anh Huy