Lan Kwai Fong
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|Lan Kwai Fong|
|Cantonese Jyutping||laan4 gwai3 fong1|
Lan Kwai Fong is a small square of streets in Central, Hong Kong. The area was dedicated to hawkers before the Second World War, but underwent a renaissance in the mid-1980s. It is now a popular expatriate haunt in Hong Kong for drinking, clubbing and dining. The street Lan Kwai Fong is L-shaped with two ends joining with D'Aguilar Street.
The Lan Kwai Fong Association is a non-profit making business chamber which groups together over 100 restaurants, bars, clubs, retailers and service providers in Lan Kwai Fong to promote the unique Lan Kwai Fong culture and charms to locals and the world.
Lan Kwai Fong as an area is defined by D'Aguilar Street and the smaller lane, Lan Kwai Fong, an L-shaped, cobble-stoned lane. Both streets turn 90 degrees to form a rectangle. It is near the Mid-Levels. Its eating and drinking establishments are considered upmarket in price and the area is also considered a tourist spot. From the west side of the rectangle, Wo On Lane and Wing Wah Lane extend to host several more spots for drinks and food. The area arguably extends to Wellington Street and Wyndham Street, through to the Hong Kong Fringe Club. It is also home to a small number of art galleries.
In early days, the square housed many mui yan (媒人, lit. "intermediary person"), or marriage arrangers, a role exclusively held by females. Mui yan were marriage intermediaries between two families in traditional times. It was thus known as Mui Yan Hong (媒人巷, English: Marriage Arranger Lane) or Hung Leung Hong (紅娘巷 (employing a related word for marriage arrangers)).
In 1977 Gordon Huthart, the son of businessman Robert Huthart, started Disco Disco at a time when the area was a garbage collection area and seldom frequented. This became the most successful Disco in Hong Kong history and placed Lan Kwai Fong on the map. Gordon Huthart is regarded as the father of Lan Kwai Fong. It was in the 1980s that Allan Zeman hired Dick Kauffman who worked for Gordon Huthart and started California. He felt it needed a western style restaurant, so he opened “California” in 1983 in Lan Kwai Fong which became his claim to fame. One year later, following this success, Zeman invested HK$32 million to buy a whole block and began a new career as an entertainer and property developer eventually founding the Lan Kwai Group and continued the development which Gordon Huthart and now his ex employees who opened the famed 1997 clubs and this combination made this location into one of Hong Kong’s most popular entertainment destinations for expatriates as well as tourists. Friday and Saturday nights are often jammed with people, leading to vehicle traffic being suspended at certain times, giving the streets over to pedestrians. The square, together with a club "Disco Disco" founded earlier in 1977 in D'Aguilar Street, made Lan Kwai Fong and its surroundings a famous spot for night life.
From 2011, a massive change was underway, following Zeman's decision to replace his block in Lan Kwai Fong. This led to a substantial area of Lan Kwai Fong becoming a construction site, surely helping boost business in the booming bars just above, along Wyndham Street.
The crowds during special occasions such as Halloween or New Year's Eve put the place at a literal standstill with the large numbers. Police control is employed at such times, to manage the crowds.
In recent years, street performing has become a new scene in Hong Kong's street culture. Some of the performers decide to set their stages at Lai Kwai Fong, usually with the medium of singing and playing guitar in an acoustic setting. For example, Buskic is a group that has been performing at the bottom of Lan Kwai Fong since February 2012.
On 1 January 1993, 21 people were killed and 62 injured in a large-scale human stampede whilst celebrating the New Year's Day in Lan Kwai Fong. The location's narrow streets and a sloped gradient, poor police planning and bad weather all contributed to this disaster.
More than 15,000 people were crammed into the area for the New Year countdown at the time. The Hong Kong government appointed then-Court of First Instance judge Kemal Bokhary to conduct an inquest into the disaster. The stringent crowd control measures now in force at major holiday events are a direct consequence of the inquest's recommendations.
There are several ways to access Lan Kwai Fong other than taxi, which include:
- Public bus, route no. 12M, 13, 23A and 40M
- List of buildings, sites and areas in Hong Kong
- List of restaurant districts and streets
- List of streets and roads in Hong Kong
- Soho, Hong Kong
- Wan Chai
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lan Kwai Fong.|
- Official website of Lan Kwai Fong Association
- Official website of Lan Kwai Fong Group
- Official website of Lan Kwai Fong Entertainments
- Cheng, Sea-ling (2001). "Consuming Places in Hong Kong: Experiencing Lan Kwai Fong". In Mathews, Gordon; Lui, Tai-lok. Consuming Hong Kong. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 237–262. ISBN 9789622095465.