林森北路 (1)

Friday night, rainy weather. We arrived in a street in the north of Taipei. It was my first time there. I noticed all the neons, the narrow streets, but apart from that it looked rather a normal district.
There were somehow a bit more foreigners than usual though, but also not that much. Well, at least white people, because I quickly found out it was some kind of little Japan, there.
Anyway, the place looked cool. We spotted a group of tourists looking for Luxy – not here, guys, people were looking at the notebook and shaking their heads helplessly – Luxy, is that some kind of club? No, not here, sorry.

linsen_n_rd-20

As usual, we started to take pictures. This time, it was all about experimentations. My aim was to give more life into the pictures, and not necessarily focus on the “perfection” of the frame or technical details, not even the atmosphere, but rather make pictures with a story in it, conveying a feeling of action and movement, and managing to retain at least some of the specificities of the place.

My eye was caught at first by two men in a street corner, they were having the hell of an animated conversation. One was listening, deeply lost in his thoughts, and the other was gesticulating, arguing, sure of his fact. It looked serious-money, business, girls, debt? I wondered, why have a serious conversation in the middle of the street? They noticed me but were so lost in their talking that they hardly blinked. I thought only French people liked to have long conversation, I was impressed.

While those two were talking, so many taxis were stopping and pouring people – customers – in the street. Some looked like they already had drunk a bit! They were also not paying the least attention to us. No, they were heading straight to the 7/11, or right in the street in front of us. I was interested, and we moved forward.

As we walked in the street, as if by magic, dresses were getting shorter and shorter and people were turning into Japanese businessmen; we had reached the famous Linsen North Road, a small district spreading on about 6 streets, full of bars with closed doors and interesting names, Venus, Lupin, Casablanca, Voyage, to name a few. It started to make sense. Some of the people walking around us were getting more interested as we were walking to the heart of things, and those guys (and ladies) I thought were just happening to be there started to ask us casually: “hey, why don’t you go inside? Wanna have a drink?” I felt I was really naive! The magic there is that, because we were in Taiwan, as we politely declined, they absolutely lost any interest in us, and kept doing business as usual. To me, this is totally amazing- you have a group of foreign photographers among girls and customers taking pictures, and people felt it was the most natural thing in the world, some were telling us bits of stories, customers they didn’t want to leave, police came by. It all looked OK, I felt no distress there as I can feel in other places like Longshan where there is much more misery; here, it was more of an upscale place, and also more educated since it looked mandatory to speak Japanese.

Let me say a word about this kind of bars. Since we haven’t been inside I can’t be sure, but I think it is probably similar to those you can find in Japan-you enter there to get a rather expensive drink, around 30USD for a glass or USD 300 for a bottle, then you get to sit for a while with girls, young or not so young, I guess it depends on how much you pay!, and… that’s it pretty much! Business men in Japan frequently go to such clubs after work, and I have never really understood the point of spending so much money just to sit and talk and drink a glass, but that’s the principle really. As we were watching the place, I can tell also that some girls or customers are trying to not come back home alone, but this is rather an exception, and as you exit, taxis are promptly there and a waitress puts you in the cab.

Of course, the place has a terrible reputation, and we met a guy who was living here and told me in despair that it wasn’t easy for him to have his girl friends go to his home, either that they consider that it is a dangerous area, or that it has a bad reputation. But the reputation doesn’t seem to be justified for me, and even the hotel you can find there is called: the Just Sleep hotel.

I realize that I can’t write much more for this article, because I really don’t know what is going on inside those bars, and no story would be complete without an incursion… so why don’t you just make yourself an idea with pictures? What do you think? Wha’ts happening inside?

 

What do you think?