What is a lady drink? For those with knowledge of the commercial sex industry in Asia this may seem like a strange question. But there are still millions of people who have no idea what a lady drink is. I have been reporting on the sex industry for close to a decade but I have not yet addressed this issue.
In the past I have explained how various aspects of the industry like go go bars and barfines work. So it only seems fitting to write about lady drinks too. They are as common as anything else in the Asian bar scene. Yet someone looking in from the outside may still wonder exactly what a lady drink entails. This report should answer their questions.
The definition of a lady drink
Simply put, lady drinks are drinks for ladies! Of course it is not actually that simple. A lady drink is typically priced higher than a normal drink for a customer. The extra money charged above the normal price is meant to serve as a sort of tip for the lady receiving the drink. So if a regular drink costs 100 Baht and a lady drink costs 150 Baht you would expect the lady receiving the drink to get 50 Baht at the end of the night.
Things don’t always work that way however. There are places where the overage on the price doesn’t match the payout. An example would be a place that charges $1.50 for a regular drink and $3.75 for a lady drink. The overage is $2.25. Yet a woman getting a lady drink may only be paid $1.50 by her boss at the end of the night.
This may not seem fair. And indeed it may not be. But it is not all that different from similar practices all over the adult entertainment industry. One example would be the strip clubs in New York that sell funny money. This is money that can only be used in the club. A place may sell a $20 piece of funny money for $22 then give a stripper who redeems the same bill just 18 dollars in real US currency.
There are many ways that lady drinks can be calculated. Some places keep track with sophisticated computer cash registers. Others hand out hand written papers that are exchanged for money in the future. I have even seen a few places that pay the gals out instantly. Whatever the case the gals should receive money at some point.
Deals and dealings
Lady drinks are common in most Asian countries. You can find them in Thai beer bars, Filipino go go bars, Cambodian hostess bars, Vietnamese hostess bars, Korean juicy bars and Japanese girls bars. You may even be able to find them elsewhere. Some bars in Asia do not have lady drinks. But generally speaking they’re quite widespread.
Normally customers will buy a lady drink when they want to talk to or otherwise spend time with a lady. In some places like select Cambodian bars a lady may sit down even without a drink. Though in some Thai go go bars a woman may never leave stage without being offered a drink. Even when getting a drink she many not stop dancing at some places. On top of that there are “doubles”, tequila shots and bottles that can cost more than a regular lady drink. Those typically mean more money for the gals who may be eager to push them. So there is a lot of variety.
There is variety too on the other end. Some Thai go go bars have a lady drink quota that dancers must meet. If they get less lady drinks than the quota their pay can be cut. Then there are the freelance ladies in various bars around Southeast Asia who don’t work for a salary and only get money from lady drinks or sex.
Finally there is the ubiquitous bell. You can find one hanging in nearly every adult oriented bar in Southeast Asia. When a guy rings the bell he agrees to buy a drink for every lady in the bar. Depending on the place that can cost a lot or a little. Some places have a discounted rate to ring the bell. Other simply multiply the price of a lady drink by the number of women in the building. That can include every manager, waitress and even the little old lady who mops the bathrooms. So you can see why there might be some confusion.