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Down on the Dancefloor


by Solomon West

Way back when, VICs was the only bar in Beijing. But that was then, and this is now. I hadn't been there for a long time, so I didn't know what to expect. I was relieved to find it is still in the same place as all those years ago. I went inside.

I can tell you that the place is brilliant! I talked to a guy who told me he was the manager. And extracts of that conversation were typed up by me so you can read them.


Solomon: So, can you tell me the secret of your success? Why is it that Vics has been so consistently popular for such a long time?

Mr Wang: Well mate, I have a few tricks up my sleeve, you see, you need to know what people want. To find this out, I considered what I wanted, I am a person, so I knew that the things I wanted are what people want.

Me: Er...OK. So can you give me any specific examples of things that you do?

Mr Wang: The most important thing is the strobe light! Strobe lights are great, they make it seem like you are moving in stages. But most clubs just turn them on for just a few seconds every now and then, as though any more than that would be annoying or something. What I do is leave it on the whole time - if it's fun for a few seconds, imagine what three hours is like!

Mr West: So what else is important?

Mr Wang: Well, it's a club for dancing right? Well, MUSIC! You gotta have the good music innit. So what I do, right, is find out what hip-hop music is the most popular, then I play that. I find out by looking at which songs got to the top 20 in the commercial pop charts in the US. Then I ask the DJ to play those songs. D'ya get it?

I: So you play pop music?

Mr Wang: Yeeeeah.

Sol: So what else is behind your success?

Mr Wang: Well the other thing I like is feeling safe, so I have to say the security staff are important. I only hire reliable, calm, chivalrous security staff. They are smart too, they would never get in a situation they can't win. Big guys can do anything to them, but anyone smaller or more female for example, you'd better watch yourself. This way there is always peace, but when there is not, then we are guaranteed to be able to handle it with a good punch!

Solomon West: Maidan!


I turned to the dance floor, looking down from my vantage point in the VIP section. Dancers were on the stage, probably because the dancefloor was too crowded. I am pretty sure it was not because they were preening narcissists.

I climb the stairs to leave. The cool Beijing air welcomes me at the door. Turning northwards, towards the distant rank of taxis, I exhale, mist barely forming in front of my face. A muffled conversation seeps out from a gap in the window of a nearby car. It's time to go home.