Drayang- The Dark Secret of Bhutan

“Where is Drayang” One of my friends kept asking the locals, hoping someone would guide us in the right direction, after we painstakingly searched for it for over an hour. I read about Drayang on one of my fellow friend Abhinav Singh’s Travel Blog and the story somehow amazed me to an extent that it was obvious that I will make my way into one while in Bhutan. Luckily I had the same friend for company when we visited Bhutan last year, sure to find another Drayang on the streets of Thimphu.

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The closed doors from the streets of Thimphu at Night

The clock was already past Nine thirty and we were still struggling to find the Drayang and while the search was still on, I heard a light music playing somewhere nearby as we hurriedly ran. But alas! We missed the target again. Not wasting anytime time further, my friend decided to search for the same Drayang he went in the last time. Honestly search for Drayang came as a real surprise to me. The people we asked either didn’t know about it or those we could guess know, made a strange face making me wonder what we really asked?

The clock stuck 10 pm and we finally made our entry into one, getting the instructions before entry- Make sure not to click photographs. We nodded.

Want to know what are Drayang?

“Kanta Laga” – the popular song of the 90’s welcomed me as I opened the dark gates of Drayang and saw two young girls dancing on a carefully decorated and well lighted stage. The girls looked modest wearing their national dress called ‘Kira’. I looked around and observed the crowd which mainly consisted of young boys and girls, mostly in groups. For some young couples, Drayang are an easy escape to enjoy their time, away from usual eyes

Drayang are the budgeted entertainment hubs which are smaller in number but quite unusual from the one we spot in otherwise metropolitan cities.

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Or so to say, I found it quite decent. I found that the girls do not have to lure the crowd with unnecessary skin show and were decently dressed in their traditional attire of wrap around. Secondly, for once I found the crowd well behaved and I did not spot harassment of any kind. The usual process is that the girls will come to the ‘customers’ and would urge them to request for a song on which they will dance.  For this, the customer will have to pay a minimal amount, which becomes a part of their earning.

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Even after witnessing all this, I was curious to find out more about Drayang. I wasn’t convinced that the girls are not eve-teased or if they are really happy being a Drayang.

The Reality of Drayang

I got hold of our group’s guide and as usual I bombarded him with questions. What is a Drayang? Is it an entertainment bar? Does it only mean that customers go there to indulge in drinks, be merry and be stimulated by entertainers? Is there a difference between Drayang and bars and clubs? Or is it similar to a cabaret?

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Most of the girls who works in Drayang’s mostly come from remote villages of Bhutan without proper education. For them, it is an easy option to earn livelihood and sustain their family who cannot find a regular job. Apart from a regular salary which wage between Nu 5000-6000, they make commission out of the orders they get from the ‘customers’. These girls love their work especially when the owners make an effort to groom them and keep them protected.

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Then why people are not vocal about them? Why they aren’t looked upon in good eyes? I was interested in knowing what the future holds for Drayang culture.

Apparently he told me that Drayang’s has been in debate in Bhutanese political circuit and their existence is many a times questioned. They have been associated with prostitution just because Drayang’s belong to an entertainment business. A large section of society is becoming uncomfortable with their presence because it carries stories of prostitution and not to mention men paying to have girls entertain them.

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Will it continue in the same decent way? I questioned

“I guess this is modernization!” he said. Though this leaves me with many open ended answers, may be it wouldn’t be long before the Bhutanese music gradually shifts to a foreign oriented- music. May be the competition and demand will drive the girls to wear more revealing clothes and gyrate their assets in an alluring manner. May be these young souls could be on the brink of being pushed into prostitution or may be they are already into it.

The time will only tell the answers but definitely I got my answer to the surprise of NO hoardings or No Sign of Drayang’s on the road.

“Chikni Chameli pe ek ladki bahut acha nachta hai, order kro na sir” My friend was urged by a strong built lady, who seemed like the owner of Drayang. He succumbed to the offer and paid Rs. 200 as the women innocently gyrated to an amused audience

P.S. I took this trip with Bhutan Bookings

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6 thoughts on “Drayang- The Dark Secret of Bhutan

  1. Whoaaaa…Thanks for the post.This is something that i am sure not many travelers are aware of.Would definitely like to visit one when i am there.

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