Down and Out in Lan Kwai Fong

Photography by Viola Gaskell.

Re-imagine the worst night out you ever had. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with?

Chances are, you don’t even remember. If you’re lucky, there’s still one or two badly taken images in your phone’s camera roll from that night—pictures of you and your idiot friends knocking back that last shot that sent you all over the edge.

But the hangover though. That you definitely remember. Along with the faint rot of puke still clinging to the back of your throat and the sudden realisation that you were broke as hell. Whose bright idea was it to order 6 bottles of champagne after all that shitty vodka !?

So yeah. Great night. Pity you don’t remember any of the good parts.

Welcome to Lan Kwai Fong, where bachelorettes and fresh high school grads take shots alongside suited up businessmen, and seemingly classless ground level clubs boasting jello shots stocked in syringes battle the abundant 7-Elevens for cash spent on equally classless beverages like the ever popular LKF classic, Smirnoff Ice.

Once glamourised in films like Lan Kwai Fong (1,2 and 3), the party street today feels more like a distant memory of a fever dream, laced with frat boy theatrics and some empty promise of a life-changing experience.

It’s become a place where judgement goes out the door and drunken revelry of all forms is generally accepted. And you can almost smell it through the pictures.

While LKF has all the trashy, inevitable trappings of an international party district, the area is, generally speaking, rather safe. Since the New Year’s Eve stampeded that killed 20 young people in 1993, police have safeguarded the area by putting up nightly barricades.

And this is precisely what gives LKF its vibe.

There’s nothing authentic or truly gritty about its edginess. Instead, the place feels like a metaphor for adulthood masquerading as reckless adolescence. If LKF was a person, it would be a middle-aged man who still thinks he’s 18, and believes that the 8 drinks he just had won’t hit him like a fucking brick when he wakes up in the morning.

George Orwell wrote, “It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs – and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.”

But hey, be young, be free. Do whatever you want. The world is your oyster, as the street is your toilet.

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