Header image courtesy of @dragonihk
Hong Kong is (in)famous for being a city that never sleeps. The name rings true: Hongkongers will keep on partying even during the direst of situations (the No. 8 typhoon warning signal being hoisted just means free shots at your local). If you’ve been on the lash along the beer-soaked pavements of Wan Chai, Lan Kwai Fong, Soho, and more, you see it once and you’ve seen it all. If you’ve been (un)fortunate enough to remember a night out in Hong Kong, then you’ve definitely crossed paths with these 10 iconic Hong Kong partiers.
Photo courtesy of @tokyo_salarymen
1. The peer-pressured
It’s nearing 6pm and you’re looking forward to a quiet night in with some take-out (maybe an order of curry and garlic naan?) and a new Netflix show to binge. As you’re packing up to leave for the day, your colleague slides up with a question on their lips.
You pause. Just one drink wouldn’t hurt, right? Fast forward a couple of hours and “just one drink” has turned into two, three, four, five… You’re sleepy before 9pm, but you don’t manage to get away until the wee hours, head pounding with a kebab in hand. The alarm goes off at 7am and you trudge to the office, vowing to finally have a quiet night in after work, maybe even hit the gym.
It doesn’t happen.
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2. The PR executive
On a night out in Hong Kong, you can find the PR executive holding court at a private table overlooking the hottest new ‘nightlife destination’ on the street, usually surrounded by other PR executives, gorgeous models and influencers, and other club regulars. They stay on top of their A-game, whether it be on social media or in real life, and they’re definitely someone you want to be friends with if you’re a fan of getting an invite to the hottest spots in town, as well as being fawned over with bottle service. Their ability to lure you out to a party with just one text is near terrifying, but be warned: nothing in life is free and partying with the PR executives comes with a price, whether that may be a wicked hangover or a favour they’ll call in from you weeks later.
As an aside: why are all those models Eastern European, why are they so tall, and why do they only hang out with each other?
Photo courtesy of @hongkongpubcrawl
3. The foreigners
Welcome to Hong Kong! Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai Wednesdays, and the perilous pubs that line the Soho streets are on the top of these partygoers’ to-do lists when they come to our beautiful city to do exactly what they do in their home countries. The foreign exchangers come in two subtypes: tourists and students. Both can be found outside the corner 7-11s holding canned beers or wine coolers and revelling in the thick clouds of cigarette/shisha/vape smoke that lingers in the atmosphere. These partiers are here for a good time, not a long time, and it’s never long until a fresh batch rolls in.
Read more! These are the 10 types of diners you’ll eat with in Hong Kong restaurants.
4. The holier-than-thou
These partyers radiate a “holier-than-thou” attitude, whether they may be a drink snob, an obscure music lover, or just your average teetotaler. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with not imbibing, or being specific about your favourite tipple, or even disliking popular music that pours out of cracked speakers on a loop in Hong Kong’s clubs and bars. We’re saying they don’t have let these things keep them from having a ball. Of course, these partyers are a great asset to your life if you want to go off the beaten path, or discover something new, but if you’ve got a mate who’s being a party pooper, why not help them let loose with these simple mantras:
“If a bar doesn’t have that bitter craft IPA that you like, try shotgunning a San Mig, it’ll still get you there.”
“Don’t bother the poor, battered bartender for a complicated cocktail—a vodka lime soda is just as good.”
“If you’re sick and tired of top 40s, there are jazz lounges, techno dens, vinyl rooms, and live gigs galore; why don’t we go there next time?”
Photo courtesy of @petticoatlanehk
5. The out-and-proud
With a thriving local community and the upcoming 2022 Gay Games, every day is a gay pride parade in Hong Kong’s small-but-bustling LGBTQ+ venues. Hong Kong is a relatively welcoming city for members of the LGBTQ+ community on this side of the world, despite a disappointing stall in the fight for same-sex marriage. Clubbing is completely ingrained in LGBTQ+ culture, as before the mainstream acceptance of homosexuality, gay clubs were a safe haven and cultural centre.
On a night out in Hong Kong, the ‘out-and-proud’ can most commonly be found around Central and Sheung Wan, where inclusive spaces like Petticoat Lane, Linq, FLM, and Time Bar call their home. If you’re looking to catch a fantastic performance from one of the city’s many talented drag queens, shows are held at Petticoat Lane, W Hotel’s brunches, and Happy Paradise. Even if you don’t swing that way, they’re a rowdy crowd to get down with.
Photo courtesy of @dragonihk
6. The girls
The telltale echoes of “Woo!” signal the arrival of these ladies. Always impeccably dressed in coordinated outfits, always downing shots of some sweet concoction, and always the loudest in the room, the girls take on life as if they were in an episode of Sex & the City. Ladies nights around town are usually on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but the girls can be found at their favourite boozy brunch (“Oh my God, I’m never drinking again,” they say, as they neck free-flow mimosas by the dozen), at the most Instagrammable spots jostling for good lighting, and holding on to each other for dear life while they attempt to navigate the steep slopes of LKF and Soho in their stick-thin stilettos.
If you’ve ever wanted to know the answer to the age-old question of, “How many girls does it take to throw up in a toilet?”, just meet these ladies in the powder room. One of them is puking, one of them is holding her hair back for her, one of them is crying, the other is keeping her phone away from her so she doesn’t text her ex-boyfriend, and the rest of them are either having a photoshoot in the bathroom or touching up their make-up so they can have a photoshoot in the bathroom.
To be fair to the girls, you won’t find a more loyal band of friends anywhere else, and they’re sure to tell you how pretty you are, or pull you away from a creeper, or shine a light on you for that perfect Instagram selfie.
Read more! These are the best underground clubs in Hong Kong.
Photo courtesy of @armanddebrignachongkong
7. The underage kids
The government finally passed a law prohibiting alcohol sales to minors as of last year, but that hasn’t stopped the hoards of high schoolers armed with their parents’ credit card from living it up on a night out in Hong Kong. Most commonly found at PLAY, Levels, and the various shisha bars around town, these kids are definitely out past their bedtime and have serious cash to burn on bottles of champers with sparklers attached to the top. As you queue up behind them and watch them try to gain entry to a club, you can almost smell the sweet scent of their fear and anxiety as the bouncer scrutinises their older sibling’s ID card.
8. The wolf pack
The wolf pack is in touch with the ground, and they’re on the hunt down after you. Made up of the ‘Big Three’—pilots, English teachers, and bankers—the wolf pack are the ultimate lads on tour on a night out in Hong Kong. Watching the boys in action is like watching an episode of a nature documentary, and today’s episode focuses on mating season. You’ll be reminded that, at the end of the day, we’re all animals, and it’s the survival of the fittest when it comes to who’s the most eligible bachelor.
However, lads’ nights out are less about perfecting their best pick-up artist impression and more about strengthening the bromance. You will come across these lads discussing the game at sports bars, grabbing a pint at their favourite watering hole after work or the gym, or out on a stag do. These lads are on tour, and they’re ready to paint the town red.
9. The OGs
Don’t be so surprised—before they became your parents, grandparents, bosses, and teachers, they went on benders too (and some still do!). The OGs are the backbone of Hong Kong’s nightlife scene, their seat at the local kept warm from decades of partying. The OGs have seen and done it all and then some, and can probably still drink you under the table.
In addition to the recreational clubs of our colonial past, the English and Irish pubs of Wan Chai are their stomping grounds, and they can regale you with tales of Hong Kong’s golden age of discotheques and old-school joints. For a trip down memory lane, head to the Captain’s Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, the FCC or Football Club, and the Peak Lookout to catch the OGs in their natural habitat.
Read more! Check out the best gin bars in Hong Kong.
The man, the myth, the legend. We’ve saved the best for last. Everyone has encountered this wily enigmatic figure on a night out in Hong Kong, known lovingly to expats and locals alike as Gollum. Not much is known about him; where did he come from, where did he go? What’s his real name, what does he do, what’s transpired in his life that’s lead him to bumming off cigarettes from drunkards and wagging his finger at his loyal fans? We may never know, but one thing’s for sure: Gollum has remained a constant in the chaotic seas of change that is Hong Kong nightlife.
Read more! Check out the 8 types of people you’ll meet in Hong Kong gyms, or explore the rest of our Culture section.