I have previously written about Taiwan’s nightlife just after martial law was repealed (here). Another charming diversion, besides burlesque, was underground dance clubs. When I use the phrase “underground club” I mean it literally, not in its current usage as a marketing ploy. During martial law these dance clubs operated outside the law. Of course, at least by the end of martial law, the Taiwanese were showing great ability to skirt laws they found onerous. Generally it was a matter of wink, wink, nudge, nudge, pay your bribe, and we’ll say no more, say no more.
I stumbled on these clubs during my first trip here, but they were on their way out already at that time. The repeal of martial law removed their reason for existence. Legitimate night clubs replaced them. The club that sticks out most in my mind consisted of 5 to 7 floors, each floor featuring its own style of music and type of dance, so one floor might be general ballroom, another tango, while the next floor was disco. I’m a little fuzzy on its location, but I’m thinking Ximenting (西門町).
We always went to the disco floor. Don’t worry, it wasn’t really disco, that was just the generic term for any dance where you stand about a meter from your partner, roughly face each other, and wiggle your ass. I didn’t foresee the demise of these clubs, they were often large and elaborate, usually full, and the clientele was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about dance. Many of the dance halls were mirrored so dancer could check their technique. The women I met there did spend a lot of time working on moves and checking technique in the mirror. The end result was impressive. It made me feel like a socially awkward duck, waddling around the dance floor on my too wide, and too webbed, feet. But, this was long before there was a foreigner on every Taipei street corner, so despite my sub-Carey Grant suaveness, there was no end to the hotties trying to get on my dance card.
Ahh, the good old days.
These clubs were such a vibrant part of Taipei’s nightlife, it was hard to imagine they’d be gone shortly after I returned to Canada.