Thai discos in Singapore: I went to One Min - Club Easy and here's what happened
I've never liked the idea of partying at a siam diu. If you've got no clue what it is, it's a Thai disco that offers all sorts of nightlife entertainment including live performances (usually by pretty and exotic-looking girls). Guests may also choose to occupy their time there with a hostess (typically Thai) by buying a garland for her (slang: hanging flowers).
I've heard so many unpleasant stories about the debauchery, fights, and illicit activities that happen at Thai discos that I've developed a negative impression of them over time, even though I've never visited one until now. I would've never thought that a "work assignment" would lead me to place like this. Since I previously enjoyed checking out Horizon99's industrial rave, I decided to give it a shot without being too judgemental.
I wasn't going to go alone obviously, so I hit up a friend who frequents One Min - Club Easy. He has been a regular at the venue ever since he broke up with his girlfriend a couple of months ago. It was no surprise that he was heading there that same weekend.
On Saturday, I caught up with him and some of his friends after midnight for a couple of pre-drink beers before we Grab-ed down to Concorde Hotel together.
At the entrance
The entrance was lit with an eye-squinting lurid red. Standing by the door were two bouncers who pretty much fit the stereotype of how a bouncer would look like: bulky, fully tattooed with countless piercings around their face. Our IDs were checked and one of our friends brought a passport. With straight face, one of the bouncers asked "Why you bring passport, you going holiday where?" I tensed up, but I quickly realised that they were friends and he was just teasing. I laughed along nervously.
I followed the group in, and ended up by some sofa seats, where I was introduced to more people. The music was at a deafening volume, so I just pretended that I could hear their names. In fact, I was busy checking out what they were wearing. Like many other guests at the club, they were decked out in Kenzo and Balenciaga tops along with slides and Gucci trucker caps, which went against the grain of my Japanese-influenced style. At this point, the club was jumping and glowing with hints of purple and red.
The music was schizophrenic.
The blaring music was coming from a live band on stage. They were playing a mix of Thai and Chinese songs. I was not a fan of their mash-ups, but props to the drummer for keeping in perfect tempo.
All of a sudden though, the vibe shifted to techno. It wasn't just some kind of generic techno, but a techno remix of Lil Nas' "Old Town Road"! I couldn't decide if it was sick or cheesy.
As though on cue, girls who looked like they were Chinese or Korean began appearing on stage. My friend informed me that guests would be able to drink and chat with a girl if they purchased a garland for her. Apparently, the garlands cost within the range of a few hundred, right up to a thousand. When I heard that, I felt a little weak in my knees, knowing that my pockets aren't that deep.
The music slowly transitioned into a sub-category of techno music known as "Manyao", which translates as slow sway from Mandarin. I found out that it's an up-and-coming genre in the Thai disco and Chinese club scenes. It is characterised by its heavy mixes of popular Canto or Mando-pop hits with thumping bass notes and EDM sounds. It clearly resonates with its audience, because as soon as it came on, the entire club went a little crazy. People were on their feet and dancing intensely along to the beat. It was infectious and I joined in, bobbing my head and lifting my hands in the air. "This isn't too shabby, actually", I thought. It seemed that I might actually learn to like it.
Then, that inevitable fight broke out.
As the DJ completed his set, and the "Manyao" music ended, I noticed that everyone at my table was standing and staring at another table. A group of guys at my table then proceeded to walk over to the other table, where a heated argument erupted.
I was still sitting, sipping my Martell-Coke concoction (not a fan of Martell with green tea or water, which apparently is quite a thing at Thai discos), watching the drama go down. Then, for some reason, the whole commotion dispersed. My friend informed me that they had taken the fight to the streets, because "if you were caught fighting in the club, you'll be banned for life". He also said that men tended to hide their tattoos with long sleeves.
The guys eventually returned. I figured that they went outside to talk, but I wasn't too sure. I was just happy that I didn't have to bear witness to a grisly scene, similar to one that happened at Orchard Towers a few weeks ago.
It was around four in the morning when I decided that it was time for me to leave. I didn't fit in. I was wearing a beret and a Hawaiian shirt that probably made me look like like a chef on a beach holiday.
Outside, I was greeted by a chromed-out GTR and a bright-green Lamborghini Aventador that wouldn't look out of place in a Fast and Furious film.
In the cab home, I realised that everyone was actually having an awesome time. Thai discos might have earned a notorious reputation, but who am I to judge? Everyone has a happy place, a place to escape the daily grind, or a place where they can be themselves. For regulars like my friend, I guess One Min feels like home.