Defiant Hong Kong bars launch ladies’ night locator app, despite a court order outlawing the events

With business down 20 to 30 per cent, a ladies’ night locator is featured in a mobile application launched by Hong Kong Bar and Club Association on Sunday

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 11:31am

The city’s club and bar owners will go ahead with ladies’ nights despite a court order outlawing the practice, in a bid to revive their businesses, which have been hit hard by the economic downturn.

In an extra show of defiance, a ladies’ night locator is featured in a mobile application launched by Hong Kong Bar and Club Association on Sunday.

Wing Chin Chun-wing, vice president at the association, said the application was aimed at reviving the city’s bar and club industry, which saw business fall 20 to 30 per cent in the first half of year, compared to a year ago.

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“We must do something before a tide of closure emerges,” said Chin. He said there had been fewer people spending time at bars this year despite mega sporting events such as UEFA European Championship and the Rio Olympic Games – which usually give business a boost.

Chin said people had been less willing to go out or to spend money on drinks this year, due to the uncertain economic outlook.

Gentlemen used to spend between HK$500 to HK$600 for one night, but now the amount fell to around HK$400
Wing Chin Chung-wing, Hong Kong Bar and Club Association

“Gentlemen used to spend between HK$500 to HK$600 for one night, but now the amount fell to around HK$400,” said Max Wong, manager at J1 Club in Tsim Sha Tsui.

In addition to the drop in spending, the District Court ruling in April – which decided the practise of ladies’ nights was gender discrimination – has also added to the woes of the industry.

Chin said some bars in Central had lost half of their business due to the suspension of the ladies’ nights triggered by the verdict.

“We will not cut the ladies’ nights just because of some ­unreasonable ruling,” said Chin, adding it was a “basic practise” in the industry for decades.

Instead, the defiant association vice chairman called on bar operaters to resume the practise, shrugging off potential legal challenges.

“We will deal with the case if the practise incurred further legal actions,” he said.

To make an even stronger statement, the association decided to highlight a special function in its newly launched app, BarMap, which helps club enthusiasts identify places which continue to host ladies’ nights. It has seven bars currently listed.

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The app offers an “OpenRice” style guide platform, with detailed information and promotions of more than 300 bars in the city.

It also hopes to attract customers by listing “Pokestops” near bars, for players of hit mobile game, Pokemon Go.

Costing more than HK$1 million to develop, Chin said the app was a “self-help” action after the government and the Tourism Board turned down the association’s requests for help.

“The Tourism Board did not even allow our promotional brochures to be placed in their tourist information centres”, said Chin.

“They need to understand that the nightlife and bars are also selling points of Hong Kong.”