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Exclusive | When in...Hong Kong

Exclusive | When in...Hong Kong

Beijing may not be ready for its gay close-up, but the grand old lady of Hong Kong is experiencing quite a quiet renaissance.

Originally published in OUT September 2008, issue 177

This was to have been a guide to gay Beijing, but for all the rampant change in the Chinese capital, currently experiencing the world?s biggest building boom, the city?s gay scene is far from ready for its close-up. Some 1,200 miles to the south, however, the grand old lady of Hong Kong is experiencing a quiet renaissance of her own, and with none of the conflicting attitudes toward sexuality you find on the Chinese mainland. This is a city that revels in its reputation as the party capital of Asia. And while it?s always been something of a shopper?s paradise -- it claims to have the highest number of Prada outlets per capita in the world -- it?s lately emerging as a cultural mecca too. It was the first stop for this year?s Chanel Mobile Art -- a collaboration between Karl Lagerfeld and Zaha Hadid -- and most-wanted U.K. art-prankster Banksy was the subject of a show at Hong Kong Arts Centre this past spring. No wonder the publisher of Time Out has just launched a local edition.

Street Guide

The Drink
30-32 Wyndham St.; 852-2868-6102
Friendly, cruisy dance bar near the main drag of Lan Kwai Fong with gay-size cocktails (i.e., huge) and cute bar staff. Ask Deko for a Star Wars, which has 11 ingredients, including gin, vodka, tequila, and rum. You?ll just need the one.

83-85 Hollywood Rd.; 852-2857-7683
A kitschy stalwart where locals, expats, and tourists throw back free vodka mixers on Wednesday?s ?New Arrivals? night with chatty manager/DJ Angus. Expect ample Mariah and Madonna. Long happy hours, from 7 to 9.30 P.M., but the crowd is best after 11 P.M.

The Peninsula Hotel, Salisbury Road, Kowloon, 852-2315-3188
No flip-flops or shorts are allowed in this elegant Philippe Starck?designed skyline bar. It?s a great spot for dessert and a drink away from the bustle of the streets. Just make sure you pop into the gents? for a urinal with a view.

The Groove
1 Hollywood Rd., Central; 852-2868-1316
Skinny Asian punks, girly boys, and those who love them shake it up at this HK institution that gets crowded on Fridays and Saturdays, when it?s open until 5 A.M.

Part One | Part Two

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Aaron Hicklin