Monday, October 08, 2007

I hate clubs

Most young natives of Hong Kong steer clear of Lan Kwai Fong, and the bar and club scene generally. The University of Hong Kong is one of the top schools in the region, and many students here are a level of studious that makes even the most unrepentant Langdell troll seem socially well-adjusted.

When I first arrived, the University of Hong Kong arranged for a local student to greet me at the airport and show me around. When I asked her what the locals did for fun, and whether she ever went to any bars or clubs, she started blushing profusely.

“I don’t really go to those places,” she told me through her giggles. “I think it’s mostly the naughty kids who go to those places.”

Doing my best to shrug off the fact that somebody actually used the word “naughty” in a casual and non-sexual context, I docked this critical piece of information to memory.

The thing that I’ve realized about Lan Kwai Fong is that, no matter how much I hate it (and I do), I inevitably end up going back there over and over again. I have various theories about why this is…that I have some deep-seeded masochistic instinct, that Lan Kwai Fong exerts a strange gravitational pull, that maybe it’s not actually so bad. But the answer that I’ve settled on is, I am an idiot. I am an idiot and I need to constantly remind myself how much I hate that scene.

So last weekend, having again forgotten what I like and where I belong, I blithely set off into LKF. The neighborhood can be immensely frustrating when you don’t have access to any of the shi-shi clubs in the area, but I’ve been “lucky” enough to surround myself with a few people who make access easy. As far as I can tell, the main principle upon which the “in crowd” bases their social lives is, “I must go to as many clubs per night as possible, just to prove I can get in.”

We bounced from club to indistinguishable club, trading high-rise skyline views for shark tanks for windowless dungeons as the night dragged on (odd that we were moving ever-downward). Along the way, a classmate introduced my friends and me to Matt, a high-rolling Canadian investment banker, and Darren, a human barnacle affixed to Matt’s glorious hull.

To say these guys were tools would be an understatement. They were beyond tools. They were tools of Carson Daly-like proportions. Hanging out with them was like traveling with a Home Depot. As we piled 5 people into a cab to move from one club to the next, Darren extolled the virtues of his companion.

“If you want to have fun, the guy you need is sitting right in this cab, and he isn’t me,” Darren slurred to the one girl in the car. “It’s Matt,” he clarified, just in case she wasn’t sure.

The girl nodded politely. I give her credit for that.

“I can’t even have fun in Hong Kong anymore without this guy,” Darren continued, undeterred by the lady’s silence. “You’re either rolling with him or you’re ending up at the Peak Café in Soho with a bunch of losers and tourists. Screw that!”

I happen to like the Peak Café.

I was seated next to the driver, so when we arrived at our destination — a one-minute cab drive away — I began pulling out my wallet to pay the cabbie.

“Don’t worry, guys,” Matt interrupted. “I got this one.”

“This one,” of course, referred to the HKD $15 cab fare, the equivalent of U.S. $2 and the minimum cab fare for Hong Kong taxis. In light of the gravity with which Matt announced his magnanimous gesture, I was only too happy to defer.

When we entered the next club, we found that a table, a bottle of vodka, and a carafe of Red Bull were already waiting for us. I was contemplating a world in which Red Bull is served in carafes when the friend who introduced me to Matt pulled me aside.

“You should probably offer to buy Matt a drink. He’s kind of a big deal,” my friend suggested, with not nearly enough irony in his voice. I figured Matt would be fine and carried on with my night, which mostly involved washing cigarette smoke out of my eyes in the bathroom and playing the "what kind of whore are they" game I've previously described.

My only regret about leaving when I did is that I apparently missed out on an honest-to-god dance-off. A dance-off! When am I going to get to see one of those again?

I’d like to say I won’t be back. I want to believe I won’t be seduced by a promise of a spot on a guest list, or a special guest DJ or celebrity guest. But again, I’m an idiot. See you next time, Lan Kwai Fong.


anonymousGGlawyer said...

I can't believe you didn't buy Matt a drink. I hear he's sort of a big deal.

Those guys sound like they give Topher Grace lookalike a run for their money as "Biggest Douche in the Universe."

anonymousgglawyer said...

I mean, a run for "his" money.

yes, I'm a big nerd.

KC said...

This entry made my whole day.

Human barnacle.


Jess said...

Hi. I googled "I hate Hong Kong" and found your blog, because I, too, hate Hong Kong with fiery passion. My parents are trying very hard to make me move back there after I graduate (they've resorted to certain scare tactics that I won't share on the Internet) and ... yeah. I cannot imagine being somewhere worse.

I'm just glad there's someone out there who shares my sentiments, because I thought I was on my own. I hope a giant carafe of Red Bull falls on LKF and the superficial brats that frequent D'ags.

Anonymous said...

hey i live in hong kong. and yeah it's absolutely awful. unless you're happy with just shopping and perpetually stopping yourself from punching the people around you on the streets, it's basically hell on earth. i lived in new york until a month ago. ughhh i miss it

Anonymous said...

Wow...I googled I hate Hong Kong too and this sprang up. I went to LKF once and I wanted to kill myself or at least the people around me...but what I really wanted was sleep.

Most people don't understand an ABC or a CBC perspective of hatred for Hong Kong. I arrive and the pollution attacks me like a swarm of mosquitos...which also attacks me whenever I visit. It feels like I've tripped and fallen into a toxic wasteland where it smells like a sewer, the air is poison and the skies are polluted to hell...then not to mention the noise pollution...the lack of manners in most of the people (horking on streets, tossing their butts out their window, not understanding basics of thank you and excuse mes) the materialism of basic Hong Kong culture...oh then there's the racism and prejudice (they don't exactly treat philipinos like equals)...the constant honking, cars everywhere...the chaos.

It's a concrete city with nothing to do but eat and shop and drink alcohol. I've found it hard to find anyone who enjoys things like the beach because they'd rather look pale like dead things and a walk in a conservation still has air that feels like death.

The only thing I admire is how hardworking the people are. I've met some wonderful people, but on a whole, the culture isn't one I couldn't live without. Plus I prefer eco tourism and simple comforts like friends, vegging out and maybe some beer or wine...but not over-indulgence.

Anonymous said...

you'd actually admire "hard working people" there in Hong Kong? What's there to admire about long hours and low wage I don't really get it.

Hong Kong is just a big sweat shop.

Emma Louise Layla said...

I googled 'I hate Hong Kong' because I'm trying to compile a list of reasons for my friend not to move there. 'Because you'll have to share the city with douchebags like "Big Deal" Matt' will go on the list.

Anonymous said...

LKF can be a nice place to hang out. You just need the right people and the right place at the right time. And avoid stupid douchebags like Matt.

Hong Kong is great, just because some of you guys don't find it the best city in the world doesn't make it the worst place to live in.

Still, I love your blog.