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​48 vintage pictures that capture the early days of clubbing across Asia

From 1974 to 2016, photographer Greg Girard shot discos, clubs & bars in Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, the Philippines & Vietnam

  • Olivia Wycech
  • 2 March 2022

Canadian photographer Greg Girard and his camera landed in the Far East in 1974 and he spent the next 30 years snapping photographs imbued with the noir allure and seedy pastels of Asia at night.

As a professional, his work examined the social and physical transformation of Asia's largest cities during their Golden Day, famously chronicling Kowloon's notorious walled city before it was demolished in 1992 in a book called City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City. But after the sun went down, like a creature of the night, he stole through the neon-lit alleys of Japan, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines and Vietnam — working in every country in Asia but North Korea — capturing moments shared between sailors and sweethearts and the watering holes they called home. Inadvertently, his pictures also form a photographic record of the early days of Asia's bustling east-meets-west music and club culture, which was charged by neon lamps, smokey drinking dens and go-go bars.

The soundtrack? "The one [song] I can't get out of my head from Hong Kong in the early to mid-80s would have to be 'Relax' by Frankie Goes to Hollywood," he said to Mixmag Asia.

Last year we interviewed Girard ahead of his exhibition called HK UNSEEN at Hong Kong's Blue Lotus Gallery, which was an ode to nocturnal Hong Kong between 1974 and 1989. Read the full interview here, and peruse the full gallery above of images he sent over to us which tell the story of clubbing in Asia starting in Hong Kong in 1974 running all the way through to Okinawa in 2016.

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