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Dancers at bars, beer clubs in Vietnam – P2: Smiles and tears

Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 14:05 GMT+7

Dancing at bars and beer clubs at night is just a job for some young and beautiful women in Vietnam, but for others it is a chance to have a relationship. Many fall prey to the money of rich magnates who come to the places for entertainment. While music group owners advertise that each dancer will earn lavish income, they only get around VND200,000 (US$9.2) each for a night of performing on a small elevated platform to lure guests into dancing. A Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper undercover journalist was paid VND300,000 a night but had to ‘give a commission’ of a third of that to her dance group owner. Dancers have to go through hazards to pocket the sum. New dancers may also be ‘bullied’ by bar owners who ask them to perform for longer than expected because they claim their performance was not as good as expected. Few realize the hardships a dancer faces until they enter the trade. Some women choose to work as a dancer at bars and beer clubs in the hope of meeting a rich magnate, while many others are serious about the job so that they can both earn money and have fun at work. A few dancers have successfully become businesspeople after starting as bar dancers. Mamasan Lien, a cleaner at a bar in which a Tuoi Tre undercover journalist was working, said those getting paid after a performance are lucky people because some are dismissed during their shift due to their age or for not dancing long enough. A dancer named Mai honestly advised the Tuoi Tre journalist, “You are still young and have more chances, so try to study and not to do this job. “You will reach my age now after a time and you will not be respected. “No one will hire you.” Hazards Nhien, a dancer, pointed to a long scar on her thigh and said she was once injured during a performance. The pole on the stage was not smooth and caused a scratch. “I was almost knocked off the stage by pain,” she said. Once, Nhien fell down from the top of her pole but kept on performing to finish her ten-minute shift because the music was still going on. Trang, a 21-year old dancer, said most dancers face difficult personal situations that bind them to the trade. “Some are single mothers and work to support their children. “Some are over 30 years old and are not respected but have to do the job since they are unable to do anything else,” Trang said. Dancers who fall for money are not a small minority. Guests who spend big on tips are often given a favor by bar owners who arrange for them to meet with their favorite dancers. The meeting is just for clinking beer glasses, a way to greet each other, and talking and exchanging contacts. A bargain may take place after the performance. “It’s life. You can think up your own ideas,” said a dancer named Linh when talking about a young rookie dancer. The young newcomer in the ‘world of entertainment’ boasted to other dancers that she had been invited out to eat with a male guest. A manager of a bar in Ho Chi Minh City admitted to Tuoi Tre that he knows many beautiful dancers who fell victim to the money of tycoons thanks to the contacts they exchange in bars. However, Duyen is a special dancer. She was born to a rich family and rides a Honda SH motorbike, whose value is equivalent to a car, to work. Duyen’s husband is a Singaporean. The woman said she loves dancing and works to pursue her hobby rather than her need for money. “I enjoy the feeling when I am taking long steps on the runway with guards clearing the way. “Guests who are dancing have to step aside to pave my way. “I feel as if I were a star. “I also like the feeling while standing on the stage with a hundred guests watching me, cheering and applauding. “I am not short of money but am always happy to get tips and I carefully keep them for my happiness.” Many dancers who work with Duyen said they sometimes see her leave the bar and embrace strange men to end her performance late at night. The dream of a dancer Trang lives in a rented room with simple furniture and a sewing machine. “I like dancing at bars because I can get money, cheers and the chance for exercise,” Trang said. She said she earns at least VND300,000 ($14) a night. But she admitted it is just a temporary job, adding that she is learning to sew and make teddy bears and other kinds of toys. “I will dance at bars for two or three more years and I hope to open a shop to sell the toys and teddy bears I make. “I just wish to have a stable family life,” Trang said.

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