THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

It’s a bit of a coven with some midnight ramblers, good girls playing at being bad girls for the weekend- and failing- and the usual stragglers from Saginaw and all points West playing Get Lucky in their heads.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 1b

It’s around 10.30pm and I’m at Carnegie’s in Lockhart Road. As long as you don’t trip on the tricky steps on your way out and way in and no one decides to dance on the bar and hurl at the plebs below, all is good.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 2b

Tonight, in front of me are three Aussies who are sure they’ve met me at the races in the land going down under. They’re not sure where. Actually, they’re not very sure where they are and insist on calling me Zac. A new bloke joins and calls me the Magic Man. Though confused, I take it in my stride. They’re harmless enough even when I decline their tequila shots. Michael Hutchence taught me years ago how to be a “real man” and put down those shots without flinching by following the grand tradition of mixing the shots with raw coffee beans and wiping that palate clean by sucking on a slice of lemon.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 3b

After dislocating a shoulder by ricocheting off the bar door trying to leave after my eighteenth shot, it’s been years of sobriety. And when those twelve steps get too steep to climb and that Higher Power is beyond reach, it’s been about everything being in moderation. Unlike Carnegie’s. Here, anything goes. Really.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 4b

My good friend and guitarzan Jay, without a doubt the best guitarist in town, and in need of a swift kick up his arse to realise his potential, and his trio are absolutely killing it. Then, new arrival to town from South Africa, Kat Coetzee, goes up onstage and shows what Hong Kong has been missing for so long- a white “Rocker Chick”, who’s old school and new school with the vocal chops and a really feisty ATTITUDE.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 5b

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 6b

Not often does one hear a female singer in Hong Kong tell someone screaming out requests, “F*** you, dude, I’ll sing what’s coming up next!” For the first time, Jay looks happy. He’s found that elusive part to his musical jigsaw puzzle. Kat forces him not to play by numbers, and I can hear it. She’s playing off him, he’s feeding off her, and the male groupies believe they have a chance with Kat woman. Dream on…

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 7b

Not known for its gastronomical delights, I pick on some roasted chicken and view the surroundings.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 8b

There’s a guy dancing on the bar with a fairly attractive woman who looks like a deer caught in the headlights. She disappears and soon he’s hugging a young Chinese boy.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 9b

There’s a woman dancing who either has a nervous twitch or is winking at me, but I let this moment pass. The band plays on, there’s some kinda weird “I love you, man” group hug, and there are then only two guys dancing on top of the bar.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 10b

It’s now around 1am and while others wander off into the bowels of Wanchai, Kat, Jay and I head home. Other than hearing that Jonel, the Filipino bouncer at Carnegie’s had committed suicide the night before, it’s been a reasonably good night. But reasonably good nights in Wanchai these days are a rarity. It’s just another sign of a city in dire need of optimism and positive change. This is no longer the Hong Kong it once was. Thank gawd, there’s the Vive Le Difference of Kat Coetzee to, at least, shake, rattle and roll the local music scene out of its lethargy. Sometimes, that’s all we need. Goodnight.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT CARNEGIE'S IN WANCHAI 11b