Strip clubs often have fabulously kitschy neon signs. In Hong Kong, all of those signs are conveniently located in one place: Lockhart Road, scene of the city’s most debauched nightlife. Strip clubs, hooker bars and other places of ill repute have existed here since World War II, when American soldiers landed at the nearby Wan Chai docks for rest, relaxation and possibly venereal disease. This is the part of town that inspired that paragon of Far East film clichés, The World of Suzie Wong.
Lockhart Road is as salacious as it ever was, though Suzie Wong has given way to women of Filipino and Thai origin. Clubs advertise cheap drinks in the hope of luring men who are then expected to spend lavishly on the women inside.
As the patronage of these bars skews white, male and anglophone, this is one of the few parts of Hong Kong where most neon signs are in English rather than Chinese. Though they blink frenetically and feature amusing names (Crazy Horse, Show Biz and so on), they aren’t quite as outlandish as you would expect, given the nature of the neighbourhood. (This is not Montreal after all; animated neon lap dances probably wouldn’t fly here. Hong Kong is permissive, but in a don’t ask, don’t tell kind of way.)
Further down Lockhart Road, the neon signs change both language and character, reflecting more Chinese dens of iniquity: mahjong parlours and saunas.
Tags: Exploring the City, Hong Kong, Neon, Red Light Districts, Signs