GAMES AND COMMUNTIES
MAP 09 MAP 09 09
in China Photo And Text by Jerry Leo
he famous bar street of Chansha, Jiefang Xi St, is filled with traffic jams after 8 o’clock. When night falls, the whole street is lit up by some 20 neon lights. A few years ago, the local government changed the street to a one-way but still couldn’t overcome the bad traffic situation. Thelma Sophie, 22, sat in the noisy, narrow dressing room, waiting for the start of the evening performances. She spoke on the phone in Chinese which is unusual. Most of the calls were from regular customers asking her to wait their tables. “My phone is so full of Chinese people’s phone numbers. Sometimes four or five people call meevery night to tell me they are coming. I would sit at one table for twenty minutes and the next twenty minutes run to another!” Two years ago in Zimbabwe, Thelma worked for a local magazine as a model and occasionally heard from a friend who visited China. She described her life working in a dance bar in Changsha. After that, Thelma felt that it was a good opportunity to make money. She immediately went to Changsha and found a job in the Glamor bar where her friend used to work. This bar is one of the largest in Changsha. “My job is actually very simple. Every day, starting at 7 pm, I greet the guests along with other Chinese girls at the door and then dance to 2-3 different songs... although we change these dances every two months. We also drink with Chinese people and play games until 2 am.” There are four other African girls from Zimbabwe and five Russian girls from Kazakhstan. Thelma has been here the longest. Starting a few years ago, the Glamor bar began to recruit young foreign girls from African and Eastern Europe. The foreigners have become proud of this bar and are even on their business signs. Many of the local guests that come to the Glamor bar are just “looking for different beauty.”
D ressing rooms of African girls and Russians are separated and their
accommodations are also separated. Thelma and her African girls live in an old apartment .The small apartment has been separated into several small rooms like a college dormitory. Instead of the network, each of the girls has a TV and DVD player in their crowded room. Thelma wasn’t very satisfied with the size but she doesn’t really care. “This place is just for sleep... after all, I just came here to make money.”
At around 10 pm, the girls change their clothes and return to the bar, which is filled with guests. They walk up to the stage with rock and roll music and gorgeous lights. The dances are always arranged for when the most customers are present. Guests wave glasses, cheer, shout, etc. Even though there’s a show almost every night, a lot of people still get excited.
Luxmie Blanca, 20 When Thelma arrived to China for the first time, she visited Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities. In the end she chose to return to Changsha because of not being able to adapt to the fast pace life of the big cities. A medium-sized city like Changsha makes her feel comfortable.
Jangzina Elmira, 21
“I came from a very small town. I don’t want to go back there. If I go back, I’m just a normal person. I have glamour when I stay here in China. If there is a can, I think I will always stay here.” Thelma said.
Iit nhard the bar, the Chinese guests like to sit with the foreign girls, drinking together, even though different languages make to communicate. This is not a problem in the bar, however, loud music makes all the exchanges rely on body language. They all have their own guests who come to the Glamor Bar several times a week. They sat in the darkness of the bar scattered about. Only when the rotation of ceiling spotlights shine on their unique hair and skin color can the people see their existence. They were very skillful playing Chinese bar games with their guests.
â€œChinese people often bring many bottles of whiskey or vodka. This is completely different from our country. Many Chinese people go to the bar just for constant drinking, dancing and acting crazy. We help them have fun. We play a variety of pub games so that they can buy more wine. Every night, everyone is happy.â€?
Tankova Anastasila Vladimirovna, 22
Luminitsq Kimberly, 18
“I can’t be 22 forever. Many young girls are trying to get this job so when I’m old, I can’t dance anymore... I will move on.” For the future, Thelma doesn’t have any long-term plans because of her belief that everything is unstable.
Thelma Sophie, 22
Ledenyeva Ekaterina, 23