Bright lights - little city

 After the sun goes down in Hoi An, the party continues for the night owls on the beach. Just remember to ask what colour you should be wearing, says Quoc Hai.

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Despite the rain and chilly temperature outside, inside the Xua va Nay Bar (Past and Present Bar) on Le Loi Street in Hoi An the atmosphere is rather snug. Tourists sip their wine in the bar’s small library or check out the showroom displaying antiques and a variety of phonographs made in the early 19th century. It’s a typically laid back and enjoyable evening in the old town.

At the bar I meet Michael Hey, a tourist from the UK, who confesses he’s smitten. He’s fallen for a town that goes by the name of Hoi An. He says he never wants to leave. We drink to that and order more beers. Then at 10pm the street goes quiet. A few decorative lanterns are still lit, but the bulk of the old town has slipped quietly off to bed. Suddenly I’m on the street with the rest of the bar’s customers, standing in the slanting rain, wondering where the night might take us.

Michael suggests heading towards the sea. This surprises me, as it’s late and chilly. But it’s hard to deny this man-in-love so a group of us jump into a taxi and set off for Cua Dai beach which is just 10 minutes away by car. When we arrive the wind is blowing in strong gusts and at first I see little but darkness. I wonder have we made a wasted trip. But the man-in-love knowingly directs the taxi driver up a sloping road that runs parallel with the coastline and suddenly we pull into the driveway of Hoi An Beach Club.

We have arrived at our destination and everyone laughs as we realise Michael knew where he was going all along. As we walk towards the door we can hear the welcoming voice of Bob Marley. Inside much to my surprise the bar is packed with around 100 people. The crowd spills out the ocean front doors to the swimming pool area. As we approach the bar the man-in-love receives a complimentary drink as “he is wearing white”. If only I’d known. I look around and realise he’s not the only one clad in white.

Tonight is ‘dem trang’; literally that means white night, but it can also mean a sleepless one. People are here to party till dawn. Over the course of the evening the bar organises plenty of fun and games to keep everyone mingling and entertained. There’s some rather spectacular fire dancing while customers dive into the swimming pool to grab cans of beer from the bottom. The sound of whoops and laughter is everywhere.

The general manager of the club, Le Ngoc Vinh, takes a break from the fun to tell me that these theme parties are held on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 9pm till daybreak. If you arrive at the club before 9pm you even get a free drink. Then I’m introduced to Luong Anh Tuan, the young owner of the Hoi An Beach Club and the Xua Va Nay where we were earlier (no wonder the staff there suggested coming here).

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“Seeing the increasingly strong development of the tourist trade in Hoi An, I wanted to develop entertainment services, which was very limited, to meet visitors’ requirements, ” says Tuan. “I wanted to create a playground for tourists outside the old town.” The Hoi An Beach Club doesn’t just have a reputation for all night parties. Under a programme run by Singapore’s Tribob Company there are swimming lessons for 400 kids in the town. Developing your strength as a swimmer is important in a part of the world that is frequently flooded.

There is also real attention to detail. The Hoi An Beach Club was recently awarded by the Tuoi Tre Thu Do newspaper with a prize for ‘Quality, Perfect Service’ with 1, 500 foreign and domestic readers voting for the club. Back in the bar the revelry continues. The stars are out, the music is pumping and the drinks are flowing. The man-in-love is waxing lyrical: “I will never forget this place, the nights here, the sea, the old town.

It’s too bad I’m only here for a short time.” Sadly as tourists we all have to leave. But perhaps that’s what makes it so special. We have to make the most of our time in Hoi An and thanks to Tuan’s bars we have a place to celebrate being on holiday with our new found friends.