Review: JJ’s — Yangon, Burma
JJ’s in Yangon is another nightclub like Emperor where working women go to meet the men who adore them. While it can be difficult to find it’s not exactly hidden away either. Most taxi drivers seem to the know the place by name and even those who don’t know the famous Mindalar Market it is located near.
JJ’s is located in a large square up a side street directly across from another place called Asian Entertainment that operates in a similar fashion and may be reviewed here in the future. The building that houses the place is large and the JJ’s name features prominently in neon outside the main entrance. For those can’t find their way even with a big bright sign there are plenty of male touts in the parking lot waiting for people to arrive. They guide customers inside and help them navigate the place though there is no obligation to go inside with one. Customers are also free to walk in on their own and many do indeed do that.
The elevators that lead up to the club on the fourth floor aren’t as bad looking at those at Emperor but they aren’t great either. I seriously doubt they have ever been inspected. They’re also filled to the max at almost all times during opening owners. Punters, club workers and women go up and down one after another with barely enough room inside to breathe.
Once out of the elevator customers must stop by a small table staffed by a few women to pay the 4000 Kyat ($4 USD) cover charge. Customers are given a slip that can be exchanged for the drink of their choice once inside. The women at the table can speak a little English so things aren’t too difficult.
After customers pay their entry they are free to roam around the premises. The walkway leading to the main club is in the typical warn down shape but is interesting because of large posters on the walls that show the biggest “stars” of the place. There’s even a leader board that shows which women won the most garlands. Those who have read my review of Emperor will know that in these kinds of bars in Burma women put on a sort of catwalk fashion every night and are rewarded for their efforts by customers who buy flowery necklaces for them. This is sort of like buying a lady drink in Thailand or Cambodia.
Not all the women in this bar or the others like it will do the fashion show. There are also plenty of freelancers around who are simply looking for a few good men to exchange money for a bit of private time with them. The women who work the fashion shows will go home with customers but they ask for more money than the others and they can be selective. Some guys visit repeatedly and shower them with flowered necklaces to win favor. The freelancers can also be choosy and demand high sums of money though. More on that later.
JJ’s is larger than Emperor and has a high ceiling so it doesn’t feel so cramped. As a bonus there are also a few lights so one can make things out visually a bit, unlike Emperor which is something like dining in the dark with a more adult flavor.
The place has a sort of complex layout. There is a big dance floor in front with some sort of changing rooms to the back that women will occasionally emerge from. The dance floor is surrounded by bars on three sides with stools where guys can sit. On the far side of the main room there are some tables and along the back wall there are small private rooms. On the opposite side there is a stairway leading to an elevated section with more private areas. The remaining side is home to a large elevated bar area with plenty of tables and seats. This is where most of the working women tend to congregate early on though they are always coming and going.
Customers are free to sit where they like. Most single guys seem to take one of the seats around the dance floor though some will go elsewhere. East Asian guys arrive in groups and are whisked away to the private rooms where they await parade after parade of gals to pass through until they find women they like.
These Japanese and Korean guys are the kings at JJ’s without any question. They are catered too by a litany of people and are able to request women at the drop of a dime. The majority of women at the place seem to prefer them and quite a few are exclusive to them. This is unfortunate for fellows who don’t come from one of those two countries.
There are probably a few reasons for this. The most common given in English is that the East Asian guys have small packages that don’t hurt. I don’t know how true this is. It may be a way to build up non-Asian guys egos while rejecting them at the same time. It does seem that this rumor that all Western guys are huge permeates the scene in Yangon. Other reasons told are that East Asian guys like to spend a lot of money and that they often drink themselves into a stupor and never end up doing anything more, which means easy money for any gal that goes with them.
I think it’s just as likely that the women are simply used to those guys and they more closely resemble local guys. Westerners aren’t that common in Myanmar and haven’t been for decades. They’re even less common in the bars and its easy to sit inside all night and see one or none at all. On the other hand Japanese and Korean men have been flooding Yangon for sometime due to business interests. Most of the women at the bar don’t speak English either.
There are a variety of women at JJ’s every night though since they are all from Myanmar one shouldn’t expect to see any tall blonds or thick Latinas walking around. The vast majority of the women are petite and in their 20’s. They try to dress provocatively though what is sexy locally can look quaintly outdated to outside visitors. On any given night there could be as many as 100 women around.
While most of the women are at least somewhat attractive there are only a few stunners around. They seem mostly committed to the East Asian customers and most will even wait them out, refusing advances from other guys even when there are no Koreans or Japanese guys around in the hopes that some will soon arrive.
There are also a few large old ladies around who in comparison to the others look like they may have come from another planet. One could easily mistake them for mamasans but since there’s no such animal the hard reality soon sets in that they are working women too. They seem to gravitate towards any Westerners who wonder in probably because most Asian guys want nothing to do with them and have no qualms with shooing them away.
These women usually speak English well. They may have picked it up while working in Thailand years ago; there are a lot of women from Myanmar on the scene there. I don’t know. They could perhaps be useful to some guys as an intermediary for that reason though they would undoubtedly expect a tip.
Some of the “regular girls” will also approach Western guys. This seems limited to the few who can speak decent English an unfortunately they tend to be some of the least attractive women in the bunch. Still a few are good looking and willing to go with a Westerner. Some of the prettier gals will come over to a Western guy if he or one of the English-speaking bow-tied male waiters summons them but they won’t have much to say and may not be willing to spend any time with the guy outside. A guy who sits alone and doesn’t get up the courage to summon a gal he likes or at least ask someone else to will be stuck with those who approach him and then the pickings may be slim even in this land of plenty.
The amount of money the women working at JJ’s ask for isn’t set in stone but there are some basic guidelines that most seem to follow. The women considered prettiest including many of those in the fashion shows expect 180 USD or the local equivalent for a night of their time and they seem to get it from the aforementioned Asian guys. The regular gals look for around 80 USD per session. Some may start with higher quotes but nearly all will accept this amount. Some may go lower but the sessions may be even worse than usual.
In any event the women don’t tend to be very knowledgeable in the arts of pleasure or put on much of a performance and the starfish seems to be the standard. Most of the gals seem to operate on the hit it and quit it model which if executed correctly can get them back on the dance floor at JJ’s while the towel they dry themselves off with in the hotel is still wet. Payment is accepted after the fact though some may try it on and ask for it up front.
As a large but partially difficult room to work JJ’s doesn’t deserve much in the way of ratings. It’s not the only show in town and although some claim it has the prettiest gals I think that’s simply the appearance because there are so many women around. In a group of 100 women there are bound to be some lookers but there are also some much less desirable lasses in the group too. One benefit the place has is that it stays open late but I don’t think that makes it much better. Taking everything into consideration I give the place one-and-a-half stars and that may even be too much. Perhaps someone writing from another perspective like a Korean business man working in the city would rank it higher.
JJ’s. Set Yon Rd near Mingalar Market. Open seven days a week from 8:30 PM to 3:00AM.