HCMC Dining Guide

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Club night

Went out to a Vietnamese nightclub with a bunch of friends last night, and was instantly reminded of how ridiculous these places are. The joint was called Lava, on Nam Khi Khoi Nghia. Upon walking in we were greeted to the usual sight at such establishments: an empty dance floor surrounded by overly dressed people with their arms crossed and gallons of hair product on top of their heads. Next to the sink in the men's room sat a communal comb and bottle of styling gel. There was a table of girls in painted-on dresses and bored faces tapping away on their iPhone 5's, waiting for Mr. Right to show up. Or just anyone with a bunch of money and a nice motorbike.

The wait staff, dressed in black pants and white long-sleeve shirts, stood around aimlessly. The huge assortment of leather couches sat empty, since you had to buy a bottle just to use them. There was more security staff than in the White House. At one point I was accidentally walking towards the women's bathroom, and one bouncer roughly shoved me in the right direction. They were not happy campers.

A DJ stood in his booth above the floor spinning what seemed like a cycle of the same five or six terrible remixes of already terrible songs. Deep bass rattled my chest, while the signature ear-splitting volume of Vietnamese clubs made sure that sign language was the only way to communicate. There were more lasers and strobe lights than The Empire Strikes Back.

The club advertised that every group of four girls got a free bottle of Belvedere, but even though there were around 10 girls in the group we were informed that only set of four would get the bottle. For some reason obnoxious, unappealing plates of fruit are popular at Viet clubs, and two were set down on our tables. The bottle arrived, along with a bunch of painfully expensive cans of lychee soda. Out of nowhere two depressed-looking girls in American flag bikinis began 'dancing' on the stage. Their performance was so dull we weren't even paying attention, and after a couple of minutes they returned to the dark recesses of the club.

A bunch of us then took our turn on the dance floor, much to the amusement of the staff (or chagrin, depending on who you looked at). Security surrounded the floor, making it feel a bit like a flashy North Korean prison camp. We soon discovered what wasn't allowed on the floor: drinks, not wearing shoes, having too much fun. As noted the music was atrocious, and I was probably bleeding from both ears, but we didn't really care because you can't help but be ridiculous in such a ridiculous place.

After plenty of terrible dancing we got the bill, and somehow it came out to almost $175. Jesus. How the hell does anybody afford these places?

We stumbled down the street to a new-ish bar called Emergency Room, which is decked out in pictures of impossibly busty anime girls and waitresses dressed as slutty nurses. Very classy. We had a great time, and the music was excellent - when we arrived Queens of the Stone Age were rocking out of the sound system. After staying there for entirely too long a few hardy souls, myself included, went for dim sum on Nguyen Trai. By the time I exited the taxi in front of my building it was 5am. Oops. 


  1. well observed. most of the clubs in Saigon are crap.
    Small bars/pubs like Emergency Room are better.
    The only good club I´ve been in is LUSH (which has the same owner as ER).

    1. Lush can be fun but it's usually too crowded for its own good. Didn't know they had the same owners.