RANGOON — Young couples and groups of youths are having drinks and dancing in a dimly lit venue in Tamwe Township, while cheery music plays. It is the middle of the day, but the high school and university students are gathered in the dozens to socialize, dance or watch a movie at one Rangoon’s many popular day clubs.
Unlike their peers in other Asian countries or Western nations, Burma’s youths indulge in parties during the day as they find it hard, if not impossible, to leave their family homes after dark.
Many sneak out of classrooms or skip college lectures in order to get loose with their friends, dance to the latest hits or watch a new Hollywood movie. Some girls swap their school clothing for new dresses once they enter a day club—slipping into the restroom and coming out wearing the latest fashion.
“I have found it difficult to get out of my house at night, so I happen to come here whenever I know my friends are organizing some sort of party,” Yamin Khin, a 20-year-old student, told The Irrawaddy. “I feel like I’m free when I’m in the club.”
Myo Myat Hein, another university student, said he visited day clubs once a month, adding that he preferred the venues because they seemed less dangerous than nighttime entertainment spots.
The day clubs have become increasingly popular in Rangoon, as they do not impose age restrictions and are open from 10 am to 5 pm every day. The venues charge around US$5 per customer and have promotion plans targeted at the city’s youths.
In Tamwe Township, DJ Club and Pearl Condo are popular venues. Sky World and Pioneer Club in Kyimyindaing Township are often busy during the day, while many youths in in Mingala Taungnyunt Township frequent
Authorities routinely crack down on day clubs, night clubs and massage parlors in Burma’s biggest city. Though they are not officially permitted, the bigger day clubs openly distribute flyers and posters and advertise online to promote DJ appearances and events, with one event called “Kissing Time” being very popular among Burma’s youths.
Some Rangoon officials have expressed concern over the popularity of day clubs and the number of venues that have opened. Last week, authorities announced a complete ban on day clubs.
“We had a meeting last week about day clubs as there were public complaints about them,” said Aung Kyaw Soe, the spokesman for Rangoon Division’s administrative department. “We have issued an order to ban them since then.”
He added that action would be taken against those who did not follow the order, though he did not elaborate about the punishment.
Some parents are welcoming the move, fearing that day clubs are having a harmful influence on their sons and daughters.
“Day clubs are particularly aimed at attracting young people at student level,” said Khin Khin Myint, whose daughter studies at Rangoon’s Technological University. “I am very worried that parents send their children to university to become educated people, but then they end up being in the club because they are persuaded to go there by their friends.”
Lin Lin, a DJ at the Pioneer Club located inside the International Hotel, said he understood some of the concerns of parents, but argued that the clubs simply provided a daytime environment for youths to meet their friends.
“It is true that most of the customers are students, but organizing a day party is not like committing a big crime,” he said, adding that he did support restrictions that would prevent minors from entering the clubs. “It is just for fun. I know parents are worried about their children, but I don’t think it is dangerous for them as long as they know how to behave.”