I enter the Mix Bar and Pub in the company of a sweet-looking girl, Jeannette and soon as we step into the well of the house, before we can adjust our eyes to the darkness inside, a pair of girls come rushing towards us. I am greeted by a pleasant ‘Hi Jack' and I notice the girls are Susan and Penny.
Susan broke up with her boyfriend a few months ago and has been going through an identity crisis since. She has the beauty of some Xinjiang (in western China) women. She's sweet, tall, angular-faced and always smiling. Smiles are a possession in China that women don't share too easily, so that makes Susan a lot more attractive. She comes from a humble rural background. Her parents, from the old school, are quite strict and would rather lock her up in her room than see her cavorting with big bad boys. They're ultra conservative. Susan has seen more of the world since she left the confines of her small town/village to come to study at a college in Huainan. The break-up with her apparently-nice bf has made her somewhat of a rebel.
She's curled her straight hair and donned hot pants in contrast to her earlier staid looks and dress.
Her friend, Panpan (Penny, as I call her), in contrast, is a touch fat, less warm and perhaps a lot more manipulative. I know little about her though I have known her some time. She comes from a wealthier background and is apparently well-connected. Susan introduced me to Penny while she (Penny) was working in a bar that belongs to her ‘brother' (gege) as a ‘manager'. She doesn't work there any more.
Susan and Penny and another girl I am not familiar with are all in the company of a prosperous looking man who's sitting at a high round table with bar stools. The table is stocked with beer and some sort of a rubyesque cocktail (a Campari or red wine, perhaps).
They (Susan and Penny) hug me while Jeannette looks on, perhaps wondering what sort of a guy she's with. I introduce them and go on to sit at a table near Susan and Penny's, perferring that to sharing their table where I would have to buy a round expensive drinks that I can't afford and share a conversation that I won't enjoy.
Jeannette and I are deep in conversation when Susan and Penny come by, glass in hand and toast us. We down our drinks together, chat for a while and they leave. Later Jeannettte and I dance and Susan and Penny come over again. They start playing the dice bar game that's so popular in China's bars and karaokes.
A medium-sized ‘cup' with five dice are all that is required…in addition to a lot of guile and a poker face. Each player shakes the cup and turns the cup over to let the dice fall on the table while ensuring the other player cannot see what he/she has thrown. Then the game starts where each player takes turns guessing what the other has in addition to his own…Say, player one throws 3,5,5,5,6 and player two throws 2,2,2,4,5. Player one might start with, say, ‘two threes'. He has one 3 and assumes the other has one or more 3's. Player two knows he has none, so he might respond with ‘three twos' or ‘three threes'. The idea is to mislead each other while trying to guess the right number of dice. Player one might respond with ‘four fives' since he has three 5's on his throw. Player two can either raise the number or ask for a show. If he does and the number called by player one is right, player two loses and must empty his glass. If player two is right, player one must down his glass…I hope you get the basic idea…
Penny is too good (read, full of guile) for me and I toss one glass down after another, winning just a few rounds.
After a while we tire and turn to gaze at the bikini-clad dancers on stage. One does the pole trick. The sparse audience takes little notice while lasers shoot beams of blue light. Jeannette and I hit the floor. I do my pelvic shakes and notice women staring. I don't bother, enjoying my dance while Jeannette tries to imitate the shake.
After some more dancing and dice games Jeannette indicates she must leave as it's rather late for her. I escort her out and flag a taxi, paying the driver the fare to take her to her destination. I return and head to my table. Susan asks me to join them at theirs. I do and am forced to drink a few rounds of beer.
Later, Susan and I are on the floor and we are enjoying our ‘normal' dance. Suddenly, Penny comes to where we are and without so much as a ‘please' tears us apart. Susan walks demurely back to their table, following Penny like an obedient pet. I am offended by Penny's unexplained action and my beer-washed brain decides it's time to say ‘goodbye' to my hosts. I look in Penny's direction while she avoids avoids my gaze and wave a goodbye…
I walk straight out of the pub, past the half-a-dozen cute ushers at the door, into the arms of a beautiful moonlit night.