Girlfriend Bars

If you are a man with money to burn and no qualms about paying for the companionship of random females (not necessarily for sex), then you may have been to one of the so called “girlfriend bars” I have seen around town.  I had heard about them from various people, but had never been to one until my 8th or 9th month.

I was told that you go to these bars alone or with a group of friends.  The bar owner hires hot girls to hang out at the bar and chat you up.  You buy them drinks (pretty much like real gfs).  And then they talk to you and pretend like they care about what you are saying (again…pretty much like real gfs).  That’s it.

The theory is:  The owner makes lots of money by selling more booze, the girls get paid to hang out and get drunk and you get to oggle them and have fake conversations of your made up achievements and awesomeness to a seemingly willing, hot and interested audience.

This was an alien concept to me.  I can understand why men might pay for sex, or the possibility of sex,  but paying just to drink and talk?  I’d have a much better time doing that with people I know.  And it would cost a lot less.

Sure, I have gone to bars and spent copious amounts of time and money (when I was younger and stupider) chatting up random girls, but always, with the intent of taking her home either that night, or at some point in the near future.  It was never just for the sake of conversation.  Ok..ok, I know this makes me sound like a giant pig, but it’s the truth.  I was kind of a dick in my heyday…it took me a few years to mellow out and become a normal human being.

Anyway,  since I didn’t understand why anyone would do this, I had to go check it out and see if there was more to it.  It did occur to me that communication would most likely be a problem, but I decided to roll the dice anyway.

I went at around 10 figuring it wouldn’t be too busy.  There were a few girls, presumably the “girlfriends ” for the night, lounging around each of the occupied areas.  They were dressed sort of “sexy-classy”.  Looking good, but not over-the-top sensual like in the KTVs.  The atmosphere was much less grungy and sleazy than I expected.  The music was at a comfortable level.  All in all, it seemed like a regular bar at first glance.

I got a drink, and went to an unoccupied table.  In a few minutes, a girl came over, said something in Chinese and filled up my drink.  I looked up, smiled, and gave her my best “I-don’t-know-what-you-said” look.  After a few more tries in Chinese, she smiled and walked away.  It looked like this experiment was going to be a failure.  I figured I’d finish my drink, and just take off.

A few minutes later, word having spread that I was a foreigner, a guy from one of the tables came up to talk to me.  His English was good enough for basic communication, so we chatted for a few minutes after which he invited me over to sit with his friends.  After the usual “gambes” (rounds of cheering after which you have to chug your whole glass), the table went back to their normal conversation.  Not really being able to participate much, I started observing what was going on.

It was then that I noticed that the guy behind the bar was keeping tabs on where all the girls were.  There seemed to be some sort of constant communication between them.  I realized that the girls didn’t spend too much time at one table, but flitted around the room like butterflies.  Everyone got their chance for a bit of company.

Watching the girls work the table was interesting.  They would sit, all demure, next to the men and listen with rapt attention to whatever nonsense he was talking about at the time.  Then they would laugh in a cute little way, flirtingly hit him on the shoulder, make a comment and fill up the drinks (hers included).  It was all very geisha-like.  After a few moments they would get up and prance over to another table, while a new one approached the one just vacated, and the scene would be repeated.  So far pretty much what I expected.

It was only when we were getting ready to leave that I realized the reason for visiting these bars.  As the guys at my table were standing up I spied one of them hand a wad of bills (obviously trying to keep it on the down low; if I wasn’t being a super slueth, I would have missed it) over to one of the girls who was working that night.  She went over to the bartender, and after a brief conversation, grabbed some stuff from behind the bar.  Then she rushed out the door.  I looked over, and the table that I had been at, was empty – the guys had disappeared.  Really curious now, I quickly went outside just in time to see them all loading up in a car (girl included) and taking off.

Gangbang, anyone?  And why wasn’t I invited???

From this point on it’s all conjecture on my part.  Going by what happened, it seems like this place had working girls mingling with the customers to pick up clients.  I had originally thought that the bar owner pays these girls to mingle and attract cutomers to the bar, but maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe the girls pay a small fee to solicit customers instead.  Or maybe they work the bar for free because the owner makes extra money on the booze that the guys buy for the girls.

Now this sort of set up I HAVE heard of.  And it makes a lot more sense.

But again, this being Taiwan, maybe there is a different explanation for everything.

I have since met and chatted with another foreigner who had visited these types of places a few times.  Like me, he was curious to see how they worked, and what actually happened.  Unlike me, he was much more dedicated to the task, and went more than once.  At all of them, he observed similar situations.

He managed to befriend a couple of the girls and said that, even though they would not come out and admit it, he had a very strong suspicion that they were ladies of the night.

Now, there are a lot of these types of places around town, but I don’t know if all of them are the same.  Nevertheless, after my one experiment, I think I was given the answer, so my interest in the subject was laid to rest.  Girlfriend bars are indeed “girlfriend” bars.  If you got the dough, she’s gonna give you the show.

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