Last Friday was a little quiet around town, except for Sister Bliss' gig at Luxy, which bumped along merrily enough without setting the place alight. Most of the action took place on Saturday: the Vice party drew the attention of the boys in blue, who, responding to complaints from neighbors about the noise, brought along a decibel meter ... but the party went on. The Firerama 2006 gig really did turn up the heat and attracted a diverse crowd of revelers.
And now down to the nitty-gritty of clubbing in Taiwan: Is it good value for money?
Every year Mercer Human Resource Consulting conducts a survey on the cost of living that covers 144 cities in six continents and is considered by many companies as the most comprehensive study of its type. For each city it compares the costs of over 200 items, including entertainment. In 2005 Taipei came in at 29.
The Vinyl Word put Paul Van Dyk in its shopping basket and compared ticket prices for his gigs across different cities for his Politics of Dancing 2 tour. With pre-sale tickets and door prices averaged out (the number in brackets indicates Mercer's ranking), Hong Kong was the most expensive gig at NT$1,522 (9), followed by New York, NT$1,280 (13), Taipei NT$1,150 (29), Tokyo NT$1,039 (1), London NT$847 (3) and Shanghai at NT$713 (30).
Although this is just a snap shot of the cost of going out, the results do suggest that Taipei is one of the most expensive cities in the world to go clubbing -- even though it is not one of the dearest cities to live in.
"For clubbers, the cost of tickets is a constant issue. But compared to bars, Luxy has huge overheads," said Alan Hsia who brought Taipei the former 2nd Floor and now Luxy. "Ticket prices are worked out on the average amount each customer spends ? only about 10 percent of customers drink a lot."
Indeed, the 7-Eleven behind Luxy does a roaring trade on Friday and Saturday nights with party-goers dipping out of the club to fuel up.
"If the ticket price is too low, or the guest list too long then we lose credibility. Most of the costs Luxy incur go on the shows: performers, hotel rooms, peak season flights, advertising and promotion. For the New Year's Eve party we spent NT$2.8 million just getting the performers to the stage, excluding additional costs," Hsia said.
Entertainment licenses and taxes are another big concern for legal clubs. On top of normal income tax the government levies a so-called "big-eight tax" on entertainment venues, which include clubs, KTV parlors and Internet cafes.
The rationale behind the high tax rates is "to protect local talent" and keep a check on "riskier" pastimes, Hsia said. "But the government doesn't really do that much to help. We took MC Davi to a freestyle battle in Shanghai. Out of 27 provinces and 200 contestants we were the only ones that didn't get government sponsorship. Only when Taiwan took a gold medal did the government offer help."
Not so long ago Taiwan's nascent vinyl scene attracted few international acts, but now the island is part of the global circuit for many top class DJs and performers, the latest of which to announce a Taipei gig is The Prodigy.
The crew is scheduled to play at Zhongshan Soccer Stadium on Feb. 21. Tickets go on sale today and are NT$1,200 in advance or NT$1,500 on the door. Visit www.ticket.com.tw.