Slave to the Music

We have never really been what you would call party animals.

I know some of our friends would say otherwise, but who doesn’t have friends who have stories of them waking up in the middle of the Padang with foot long-gashes on their chins after a drunken night out?

My point is… we’ve been pretty sedate so far in our travels. We’ve had the occasional night of drinking, but because we are old, mature and responsible, we don’t do much of the clubbing thing anymore.

I actually mean that quite literally.

You see, back in the days (cough cough), we used to party to anthems from legends such as Guns and Roses, Bananarama, Belinda Carlisle, Bon Jovi and the Bee Gees. Nowadays, the travelers who invite us to party are mostly younger than some of the Bee Gees’ chest hair, which explains why, to me, the music they dance along to sounds more akin to rodents humping.

Enter Taipei and two of our friends who, for the sake of this story, I shall refer to as “Ruth” and “Anne” because their names are actually Ruth and Anne.

We met up with Ruth and Anne in Taipei… ok, not so much “met up with” so much as “we-rescued-them-from-a-night-in-the-boring-mountains-and-made-them-come-with-us-to-a-most-awesome-night-of-variety-show-recording“, but you must understand that I don’t really like to brag or exaggerate things.

The evening started off innocently enough with us wandering around Ximending (西門町) after a day of shopping (joy!).

We were supposed to be looking for music cafes (民歌餐厅) because we were under the impression that they must be really popular in Taiwan, given that so many of their recording artistes are “discovered” in such cafes.

We must’ve wandered up and down Ximending 10 times because of this “impression”, growing hungrier and grumpier by the minute, when we heard someone rapping around the corner.

(Video courtesy of blueskyx. Do do do watch the clip, I personally find that it is very inspiring… a bit “Lose Yourself”-ish, but still VERY inspiring)

I’ve never really been a big fan of Chinese rap because they always seemed kind of… “wrong” and pretentious to me, but I was blown away by this Husky (哈士奇) dude because he would take random words from the crowd and piece together a coherent, and often funny rap within seconds. It was pretty impressive.

Invigorated by the performance, we went on to terrorize shop assistants and random passers-by about where we could listen to live music (活音乐) (really!) to no avail.

Eventually, it took a really helpful girl at the Tourist Information Counter (who was working at 8pm on a Saturday night) in Ximending subway station to understand what we were talking about. As luck would have it, she had a friend who was playing at such a cafe on South Dunhua Road (敦化南路).

The only problem was that it was not so much a cafe as it was a restaurant. A restaurant that required us to spend at least 600 TWD each before they would allow us entry. By then, we’d invested too much energy and time (three hours) (I’m not kidding) to give up so we took the four subway stops to Dunhua and stormed into the restaurant.


Zee Restaurant (主婦之家) is an odd patchwork of a restaurant. Visualize a restaurant with faux-grand European interior decor that serves a “Western” menu, yet has live singers singing acoustic Mandopop numbers and in between sets, a DJ will blast Justin Bieber over the speakers.

IN SPITE of all this (and the hefty cover charge), they are normally crowded to capacity simply because they have a stable of some of the most talented musicians in Taiwan.

Somewhere during the performances, we learnt that Luxy, one of the top nightclubs (夜店) in Taiwan was just around the corner. Totally pumped from 2400 TWD of liquor and bar snacks, we decided (why not) to go for it. The girls thought they might be able to catch a glimpse of Jay Chou and I thought I could become famous by provoking Jay Chou into punching me.

They weren’t joking when they said “top nightclub in Taiwan”.

It was THE place to be.

We knew we were nearing the club when we saw the cars parked at the side of the roads getting progressively smaller/louder/more expensive and the concentration of Ridiculously Good Lookers (RGL) around us increasing with every step we took.

And the best part? All these RGLs were staring at US.

I need to be clear. We are talking about girls in 10-inch tall stilettos and wearing one piece dresses that were smaller than my handkerchief. (the dresses were smaller than my handkerchief, the girls were regularly sized)

They were staring at us.

The reason was simple.

It’s because ONE OF US decided to wear her Crocs out for the night. The stern-faced bouncer (also RGL) took one look at us and miraculously managed to scowl even more.

Undeterred, we tried devising means to sneak somebody into the club and at one point in time, Ruth actually went toe-to-toe with the bouncer who was probably three times her size.

After a while, we figured this wasn’t worth the trouble and took a taxi to Room 18, another club loaded with RGLs, but with a less strict dress code.

You won’t be able to see blood on THIS dance floor. It’s too crowded

Clubbing photos courtesy of Anne. I was too busy covering my ears to stop my brains from being liquidated by the sound system to take any photos

Great times!


Update from Argentina:

I know, some of you had probably already heard, I got my pocket picked on a subway. I’ll tell the full story some day when it will (probably) seem a bit funnier to me. For now, I am just thankful for the fact that the loss was not THAT much (the thieves actually very considerately left me all my credit cards) and the insurance can probably cover the cost of replacing everything that was taken.

So, this little blurb is to say that we are safe and thank you to everyone for all your kind words and your offers of help.

Now, I’ll know who to look for when I need money (Ruth and Anne) (kidding, kidding….) (maybe?)


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