In memorium - Joe Bananas

By Ron Sauer, theSauerReport
Published:  29 March, 2014

A bit of distraction for the weekend after a pretty boring week of business can do no harm. Martin Ricker, Content Director ILM brought us the bad news that Joe Bananas, the famous leather industry haunt in Wanchai, Hong Kong, has closed down. 

The Oxford Concise English Dictionary says a haunt is a place frequented by criminals. How dare they. There were only hide traders there!
For many regular and old time Hong Kong fair visitors this place holds great and less great memories. All things that could not be said during the day at the fair were said there. Usually after 2am when contracts could be made, claims solved with the fist if necessary, frustrations uttered, new contacts made, where beer was ordered by the bucket not by glass or bottle, where one could get utterly bewildered and where finally the dullest traders could be seen dancing like fools till the sun came up. And where sometimes, when stepping outside for a bit of fresh air or a cigarette one could end up in the world on the wrong side(s) of the street. And be overtaken by purely hysterical unpremeditated lust. To in the morning discover that the night had ended with another than the one the night started with. Good old Joe Bananas!

So what now. There must be another place where the informal but not less important hide trade can continue to account for its business and presence in Hong Kong. Let me enlighten the memories of the real old visitors to the Hong Kong fair and name and advice one of the favourite watering places in the late eighties: Ned Kellys Last Stand in Kowloon. Where the owner played his Honky Tonk jazz piano far after midnight and the beer stood ankle high on the floor by then. Where the author used to celebrate his birthday (always during the fair at that time). When we drank only Margaritas and the bartender always misunderstood our order for a carafe. He gave one. But on a birthday one did not share a carafe. Everybody had his own carafe, considered it his glass and drank directly from there. Aye those were the days. Forgive me.

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