Disclaimer: Bunker Club takes anonymity extremely seriously. Locations of the party are undisclosed in this article out of respect, and in the event they use a repeat venue.
Hard summary: Hong Kong is one of the most consistently surprising cities I’ve ever breezed through.
I knew study abroad would be riddled with the potential for some stellar outings, and up to this point, that’s what it’s been. Euro-trash DJ sets in Lan Kwai Fong, Bottomless brunch in Tsim Tsa Tsui, weekends in Wanchai, clubbing in Beijing and Taipei. It’s been a hamster wheel of cheap 7-11 booze and diving head-first into the local scenes with the crew. Baptism by fire, weekly, broken up by disappearances into the local jungle trails and hippy fishing islands when we were tired.
But no one—hardened locals included—can claim familiarity with a Bunker Club party.
“Dude, check this shit out.” My roommate Joe corrals me into a gander at his Facebook profile. “There’s a Bunker party somewhere in Hong Kong on Saturday. I’m losing my mind.”
Putting his frantic and sudden excitement to the side for a minute, Joe infects me with his maniacal enthusiasm in enlightening me on what a Bunker party means. They got their name by (literally) having secret parties in abandoned World War 2-era jungle bunkers around Hong Kong’s most remote places, and having them extremely rarely. They’re so lauded that the last DJ to play was Nick Warren of Way Out West, someone whose shows routinely fill European arenas. Usually with a month’s notice, the anonymous guys behind the brand announced their next event with only 3 days to prepare. 50 people will get an email with directions to a secret location decked out with a full DJ setup, free water, and a guaranteed good time from 11pm to sunrise. This time of year in Hong Kong, that’s 7am. 8-hour rave.
Naturally, Joe gets the email. The location proves to be quite literally in the middle of the jungle, a half-hour marked-trail hike from the nearest main road.
Fortified with Thai food and San Miguel tallboys, the crew rallies laced up at 11 outside the apartment (seriously called The Grand Blossom House). I’m wearing a backpack full of local Tsing Tao beer, several purses and someone’s potato chips. We take a bus to the central district, and another to the local area, which feels a world away from the big city already. It’s pitch black.
Joe leads the charge with the directions on his cellphone—the rest follow behind with phone flashlights on. “Giddy” could not begin to describe the group mentality, as we were half stoked out of our minds to be a part of something so clandestine, half buggin’ out over being on a jungle trail in the middle of the night.
Eventually, we could hear music in the distance, like a call to prayer. It was faint, but something FIRE, jumping between violent deep house and melodic dubstep. After hauling ass up and around this path much too aggressive for some inebriated kids, we find ourselves greeted by some hooded Europeans in a pile of glow sticks. This is deliverance.
We each eagerly fork over our $200HKD ($25USD) entrance fee and get the wristband. A path is illuminated by glow sticks in what is still the pitch black of darkness, herding us around trees and through some stairs (all bound to weed out the weak in the next three hours) to the small, jungle-surrounded open field that marked our arrival.
The trees are speckled with strobe lights and lasers, electric generators powering up fog machines and some ruthlessly absurd speakers captained by a live resident DJ. Locals and (mainly) European expats crowd the area, absolutely throwing down in the middle of the Hong Kong bamboo. We can’t see anyone’s face in the dark.
Roadie beers came flying out for the next several hours. Champagne happened. The smell of weed was overwhelming, and socially acceptable on all levels. I was asked where “the molly guy” was more times than I’ve ever been asked the last four digits of my SSN. I found a friend from the abroad program who didn’t realize there was an entrance and unintentionally snuck in by free-wheeling it through the forest like a common gibbon. The Spaniards seemed to struggle with the stairs more than anyone.
Come 3am, the sea of bodies was split into “can hang” and “can’t hang”. Plenty of people started to walk back down the path and somehow found a taxi home. Euros started falling on top of each other, vomiting into bushes, falling out of the trees into the party like they had lived in the bamboo for the last four days. It was a war zone. Tropi-pocalypse.
We had no intentions of subverting ourselves to what was becoming common debauchery, just to see the sun rise and shine down upon a jungle-savage Euro-colony of bad decisions. We took the hike down, still reeling from the experience, and the funniest cab ride back to Kowloon. We wrapped it up in McDonalds (obviously), laughing still at the locals face-down in their egg McMuffins at 4 in the morning.
Nothing could have been better.