The intersection of Lan Kwai Fong and D’Aguilar sits at the top of a hill, and on weekends people spill down the slopes in cascades of inebriation. It’s an ingenious, if unintentional, layout because it is much easier to trip over one’s heels downhill than up.
Drunk people—and I am no stranger to drinking—can be frightening when you are not one of them. The bellicose ones and the wildly unpredictable ones unsettle, of course, but so too do the more passive drunks: the sullen mopers, the wanton, the vacant. My first autumn of adulthood, when, in an effort to combat the ennui, I forced myself to go out every weekend, I would often sit in the bar sobering up and watch, a bit uncomfortably, my friends carry on in their tipsiness.
I did it then, as I do now, in pursuit of memories that would make it worth it. The nights we survived, the nights we almost didn’t, and the camaraderie that carried us through. When during the day we wade through our failed relationships and soulless careers, we can look forward to the weekend, to the socially sanctioned abandon.
Once, well into the late hours, when I was sober and looking for a friend in Lan Kwai Fong, I made the trek up the hill. In the midst of peering into bars and into the cryptic spaces between them, I paused to watch the circus around me.
It felt like a privilege. All these strangers whom I would never know, whose faces would melt into obscurity: to be witness to their social lives, and to watch them, in spite of whatever troubles besieged them, be happy.
Alcohol may not be healthy, nor this transient suspension of our quotidian worries and our longstanding anxieties. No one, though, can live a life mired in fear. If we are to spend our lives fighting a lost battle against the abyss, we may as well be happy when we can.
Let’s drink to that.
The swankiest lounges and most impeccable cocktails are not to be found here, but Hong Kong’s notorious party district has managed to maintain its social clout through the energy of its expat regulars. Even teetotalers can appreciate the density of the bars and the throngs of people that descend on LKF every weekend; crowd-shy visitors should, naturally, steer clear. If in search of a rallying point, Hard Rock Cafe, which stands at the end of Lan Kwai Fong, provides a reliable landmark.
Lan Kwai Fong, D’Aguilar Street, and surrounding area, Hong Kong