Pubs : a place to relax,
to laze the time away

By Emily Ng

As soon as you open the door, your ears are blasted by loud, funky music, and your pupils open wide. It takes several seconds before your vision adapts to the dark surroundings.

This place is one of Hong Kong’s many pubs.

Inside the Jousters, a pub in Tsim Sha Tsui, swords, bows and suits of armour are in every corner. People are enjoying their drinks and conversations with friends.

“Most people who go to discos do not really dance, but just sit and drink or chat with their friends. Therefore, we introduced disco music and spot lights to the pub to create a disco atmosphere. So far our policy has been quite successful,” said Mr. Eric Chun, the manager of the Jousters.

Another policy of the pub to maintain customers is to provide various forms of entertainment like dominos and Genga.

“Since gambling is not allowed in our pub, in order to keep the guests occupied, we try to provide more entertainment for them so that they don’t feel bored. In times of festivals, we hold special functions to attract our guests. For instance, on Halloween, our staff are all dressed up and wear make-up. And we provide make-up for the customers. The one with the most outstanding make-up is awarded free drink,” Mr. Chan explained.

According to him, free drinks are not usually available in the pub.

Said he: “Flattering people with free drinks is not a good way to establish long-lasting relations between the pub and the guests.”

This point of view is based on Mr. Chun’s belief that the most important thing of the pub’s business is the relation between the customers and the pub. He said, “I think pubs are to serve people rather than to sell drinks. If people want only to drink, they can just buy drinks from chain stores at a much cheaper price. Indeed, most people drink in pubs because they have a sense of belonging there. They feel like at home where there are many friends drinking and talking with them.”

Not only are the guests patrons of the pub, but they are also the friends of Mr. Chun.

“On my days off, I sometimes go out with my customers. We keep contact with each other because we are friends,” said he.

Mr. Michael John Pedersen, an aerobics teacher from Australia, is a customer of the Jousters. He prefers talking with friends to making new friends in pubs. He chooses to drink in small pubs like the Jousters because, when visiting there, he does not need to dress up.

“I visit pubs in Tsim Sha Tsui and Central a lot. However, I don’t quite like pubs to be too crowded and noisy because then I can’t chat with my friends,” said he.

If Mr. Pedersen did not care too much about the prices of drinks, he might consider the lounges of some of Hong Kong’s major hotels. Such lounges are usually located on the top floor of elegant hotels decorated with French furnishings and window dressing. Instead of loud music, music is classical or semi-classical and played by live bands or pianists.

Miss Kariner Ng, a marketing manager of a trading company, is a regular customer of hotel lounges.

“I prefer the lounges in hotels to ordinary pubs in Tsim Sha Tsui or Central. I think those places are rough,” she said.

According to Miss Ng, she usually goes to such lounges for business.

“However, I also visit hotel lounges with my friends. I like their ambience, the soft light and the slow music. I can relax myself there. Those ordinary pubs are too noisy and stuffy for me. I can’t hear what my friends say, and I have to shout loudly,” said Miss Ng.

Apart from the two kinds of bars mentioned above, some pubs are especially popular among students. They are usually located near schools and universities. For example, students of The Chinese University of Hong Kong visit pubs in Tai Po a lot.

“I am not sure why they are so popular among the students. Perhaps it’s because they are easily accessible. Besides, most of them are near food stalls which are open overnight. After dining there, the students may conveniently go to these pubs,” said Mr. Steve Yu, 20, a Year 2 student in the Department of Computer Science.

Mr. Raymond Lam, a bartender at Bar City in Tai Po, agrees with Mr. Yu.

“I guess the reasons why the pubs in this area are so popular are that we are near the university and the students are attracted by our decor,” he said.

According to him, he maintains close relations with his student customers.

“Our relation with some students is quite good. Some of them even come back occasionally after they have graduated,” said Mr. Lam.

Mr. Yu probably will be one of them.

“The staff of the pubs in this area are nice to students. Once I and my friends visited one of them and we were happily playing games. The owner of the pub was attracted by the games we played and she joined us in playing. She even offered us a pitcher of beer,” said he.

November 1996

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