Mature Content

January 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm (general life)

So things got a little weird tonight after church. Bil was meant to have a gig at an African bar, but his French gypsy jazz band friend called and asked if he was free. He called the Africans, and that gig was cancelled (not that they’d mentioned it to him). So gypsy jazz it was. My husband had particularly wanted to hear them play, so he was delighted.

We left church early and caught a taxi to the approximate location (the gypsy jazz band works through an agent, which means they never know exactly where they’re playing until they get there – agents keep the mystery alive so they can be sure they’ll still get their cut). We were met out the front by – oh, let’s be stereotypical and call him Jacques, and the other band member Pierre. Pierre plays guitar, Jacques plays guitar and sings, and Bil plays bass. It’s a moderately well-known group here.

Jacques was clean-shaven and very French looking. He had a slightly hesitant look about him, and a lovely accent. We were in the Russian district, so there was heaps of Russian writing on the buildngs, and people kept walking past (through the snow) in fur hats. I wished I knew more Russian than, “Vodka, da!”

“I’m not too sure about this place,” Jacques began. “I do not believe it is a nightclub. I believe it is a whorehouse.”

The three band members were all willing to go home if any one of them wasn’t willing to play, but they decided to battle through, which delighted me no end. There were a few subtle clues about the club as we made our way in: six burly security guards at the entrance; almost no-one buying any drinks (and the drinks were insanely overpriced); lots of fake furnishings including warped mirrors and semi-exposed plumbing; a huge display of mindless flashing neon; and of course, the whores. That was a pretty strong clue.

I saw lots of long bottle-blonde hair, and lots of tiny skirts and tiny shirts. They all seemed to get on fine, which is nice in any workplace, don’t you think?

I was too scared to use the bathrooms, especially after the boys told me that when they went, they were followed in by a bouncer. After doing what was necessary, they were underwhelmed when their follower pressed the button for soap, then waited pointedly for a tip.

Apart from anything else, I’m pretty sure I was the only woman in the bar who wasn’t working. It’s possible the female bathrooms were just for staff.

I was pretty nervous. I happened to be wearing red and pink (everything else needs a wash), and most of it velvet, with see-through windows on the sides (to the shirt below). Probably not the best outfit for fading into the background. What was the safest thing for me to do? Should I “do as the Romans do” and drape myself over my husband as if he was a high-rolling customer? Would ANYONE believe that?

(You’ll notice this photo is somewhat blurry. I can only assume it’s because my husband was laughing too hard at my hooker face to take the shot. We were too scared to take photos inside the club itself.)

Clearly, that plan was out. So I should be all demure then, and clearly NOT a whore. But what if someone came in with a mad fetish for blue caterpillar women, or for intensely scarf-staticked hair? What if they took a shine to me, and wouldn’t take no for an answer? What then?!?!

Fortunately no-one approached either of us – although I don’t think I let go of my partner the whole time. A girl’s gotta mark her territory these days.

Back when we were all outside discussing whether or not to simply leave, I specified that a whorehouse was okay but a strip joint was not (if badness is out of sight, there’s no long-term scarring). Jacques remembered that condition vividly between the second and third set, when the lighting suddenly got a LOT better and a girl emerged from backstage wearing stilettos and a shiny gold bikini. She proceeded to dance with lots of hip movements and much tossing of her long, bottle-blonde hair. Bil and my husband studied the table, and I kept them informed as to what was happening. I confess I was a LITTLE disappointed when she strode away, still wearing all the clothes she’d started with. (Such as they were.)

No one else ventured onto the dance floor at any point in the night.

My favourite part of all, though, was the little wall running alongside most of the inner booths. Each table had a lamp screwed to the wall —  all fake brass and flourescence, covered in sheer red cloth and dangling with plastic beads. But the wall itself. . . oh, the wall! You know those old fashioned plush armchairs – overstuffed and studded, and sewn into diamond shapes? It was like that, but made of deep red velvet (fake, of course).

Best. Padded Wall. Ever.

The band took rather short breaks, and we were out of there by midnight. As Jacques picked up their money, the proprieter said, “Couldn’t you have played some rock?” I suppose he was as surprised by the night’s events as we were.

I think every holiday in Beijing needs a French gypsy jazz band playing in a Russion brothel. Don’t you?


1 Comment

  1. Ben (Crispin) said,

    When you mention “exposed plumbing”…

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