Archive for the ‘hong kong’ Tag

Old Men in Lan Kwai Fong: Social Pariahs or Economic Kingpins?

I’m going a bit off-piste here, but this post is inspired by 22 year-old student and blogger Jen Loong, whose recent observations from a night in Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s central bar area amused me and got me thinking.

Jen’s entry reads in part like a travel guide, but what clearly left the deepest impression on her was the middle-aged men who hang around there, often with disturbingly young women. My office is right on the edge of Lan Kwai Fong and I have two daughters the same age as Jen, so I can see what she can see. What made me think was the sense of shuddering disdain she projects about these guys, whom she seems to regard as social pariahs.

Here’s another perspective.

I don’t really like Lan Kwai Fong because it’s too much of a theme park and the beer’s too expensive. However, its proximity to my office means that I frequently meet friends and business contacts there and my usual haunt, C Bar, has absolutely brilliant staff. Occasionally I have too much to drink, my sense of reality becomes distorted, I start bar hopping and end up in Insomnia. By the time I get home I am left with nothing in my wallet but a bunch of credit card slips. It’s a fair cop: I am old and I do love to party!

You will see a few freelance hookers and ladyboys on the prowl, but they leave you alone unless they sense you are a potential client. Gold diggers are more difficult to shake off. As Jen says, they can be shockingly young, so I came up with what I thought was a witty put-down: “What’s up, are you missing your parents?” It worked the first few times I tried it, but it can backfire as the pretty predators rise to the challenge and even play on how young they are. Of course, to unattached old guys and ‘MBAs” (Married But Availables) this is wonderful: after all, if you give most red-blooded males the choice, they will go for the head-turning showroom perfection of the latest model over the characterful but potentially troublesome classic!  And in the natural, boozed-up course of reinforcing their alpha-male status, they will take their trophies into dimly lit clubs, where drink prices rival the highest in London or New York and order champagne and cocktails.

Meanwhile on the sloping streets outside, the young people form a throng, drinking beer, spirits and mixers they have bought at one of the nearby 7/11s and moving to the music being pumped out from open-fronted bars. If they really want to impress, they’ll venture into one of the clubs, buy the cheapest drink possible and stay until the bar staff rumble them and ask them to leave.

So who’s paying for the party, people?! The revolting 40+ Economic Kingpins, of course, which is why the bouncers, staff and management greet us so warmly and tend to our every whim. If we were to shuffle home early each night to drink Ovaltine and listen to Classic FM podcasts, the bars and clubs of Lan Kwai Fong would be turned into offices within a year and the young people of Hong Kong would be forced to go to Macau for a good night out.