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Laos Officials Shut Down Vietnamese Nightclub In Historic Cave

When you think of Laos' historic Viengxay Cave, a major military base and home to thousands during the 1953-1975 Laotian civil war, the first thing that springs to mind is pole dancers. Obviously.

Or maybe not, given the reaction that Laotians had to the recent opening of a Vietnamese-owned nightclub within the storied cave. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the nightclub held its soft opening on August 21, featuring Vietnamese pole dancers either clad in bikinis or traditional Lao dress, which is typically reserved for cultural events and special occasions.

After the public outcry that followed on social media, authorities in the far-off Houanphan province shut down the club and are deliberating how best to move forward with the case. One thing is for sure: there will be no more scantily clad women in Viengxay Cave.

“When there is a problem, we will talk to try to reach a resolution,” the director general of the province’s Information, Culture and Tourism department, who wished only to be identified as Khemphone, told RFA’s Lao Service. “[But] if the restaurant owner would like to continue operating, there must not be any showgirls in bikinis.”

The real question, it seems, is who authorized the nightclub in the first place. Though the Vietnamese owner of the club was granted a 50-year concession to operate in the cave, locals in the conservative northern Laos province have been voicing their disapproval from the beginning. However, in a mountainous region with poor infrastructure and little government funding, it's not hard to imagine what might have persuaded local officials to approve the request.

[RFA/South East Asia Post]

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