Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wasai--- Foreigner's Night

Many foreigners have been to a ladies night at the local bar or pub. The idea makes sense from a marketing standpoint. If the ladies can get free or reduced price beverages they are going to come in droves to the bar. Every guy knows that if the ladies show up in numbers the guys are sure to follow. In Taiwan, it is also not difficult to find bars hosting ladies nights. However, here the marketing scheme has taken an unexpected twist. Every weekend, somewhere in Taiwan, there is a foreigner's night at a local bar. Is the implication that having foreigners turn up will prompt Taiwanese to come as well? I have no idea what the logic of this tactic consist in, but I have been the happy beneficiary of no cover charge or free drinks numerous times.

A British friend who lives in Kaohsiung was discussing the strangeness of foreigner's night with me at just such a night and many pints into it. "If a pub in England advertised that foreigners could get in without paying cover, while English citizens were being charged five pounds, that pub would be fire bombed before the end of the night", he claimed. Having never lived in England, I can't substantiate the ferocity of his claimed response, but I'm sure the spirit of the response is valid. I imagine that in the United States a foreigner's night would result in a discrimination law suit. How do local Taiwanese feel about this reverse discrimination?

I took a trip to Penghu with some Taiwanese friends. We had a fun day snorkeling and scouting around the main island. Come nightfall, we decided to search for a local watering hole soon finding a funky place serving Belgian beers with hookahs packed with vanilla tobacco on every table. When my friends asked for a table they were told that there were none available. I was standing in the back of the group. We were disappointed as we turned to leave. At that point the waitress spotted me in the group. Her whole attitude changed. Suddenly there were two tables for us. After we sat down and started in on our beers, my friends jokingly thanked me for getting them a table. They clearly thought the situation was unfair but were resigned to it. Being put in this situation was slightly embarrassing but I would be lying if I said I was unhappy about getting the table.
Submitted to Wasai Taiwan by: Dustin Floreance
( Tainan County, Taiwan --- Lubbock, the U.S.)


The Foreigner said...

I'm not sure that this qualifies as reverse discrimination, but it IS a form of price discrimination. I assume the bar-owners are rational actors, and so deduce the following:

1) Bar owners want to attract more foreigners to their bars, and reducing prices for that market segment is a good way to do that. Perhaps they make up the loss in terms of sales volume.

Or...perhaps not. In which case, deduction #2 may be a better explanation.

2) Any ill-feeling some Taiwanese might have regarding the policy may be outweighed by the happiness of other Taiwanese that more foreigners are now available in a social setting for them to chat with (and possibly practice their English with).

On top of this, some Taiwanese have romantic preferences for foreigners as well. For them, more foreigners in the bars equals more chances of meeting Mr. (or Miss) Right. Bring more foreigners into the bar, and the bar will automatically attract more of this market segment.

I've been remiss in asking the Taiwanese guys I know why they feel this way, but I HAVE asked some of the gals. I've been told that these women feel foreigners (Western foreigners, anyways) are more romantic - they open doors for ladies, etc. That kind of stuff makes an impression on them. And finally, if marriage DOES happen, foreign men usually don't object to their Taiwanese wives maintaining their relationship with their family.

This, I thought was a bit surprising. What these women have told me is that in Taiwan, the husband and husband's family often pressure the wife to maintain a distance from her family. If a Taiwanese woman has a particularly close relationship with her family, this expectation may be especially onerous to her. Hence, her preference for marriageable foreigners.

Cecilia Mu said...

I don't think it's either.
Frankly speaking, many local gals come to the foreigner's night for ONS. No one is looking for a romantic real relationship when you are drunk and I am horny.
and to marry a foreigner in many cases will bring the girl somewhere physically farther - say if they leave taiwan.

Sunrise Global Solutions said...