Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — While traditional entertainment venues appear to be losing popularity, street performances have been attracting an increasing number of HCM City residents.
Traditional entertainment venues, including teahouses, drama theatres and cultural houses, have drawn fewer visitors in recent years.
“I no longer have the habit of visiting teahouses for music performances every weekend,” Ngọc Anh, 35, told Việt Nam News.
“I enjoy watching them online since it’s more convenient and costs me nothing. Also, the quality of services offered at traditional entertainment venues doesn’t justify the price,” she added.
Singer Đức Minh said that many teahouses have had to increase entrance fees and beverage prices to make up for lost revenue, with around VNĐ200,000 (US$8.8) for a smoothie or juice drink.
Lê Xuân Tài, 53, said that he, too, used to enjoy music and plays at traditional venues but has felt uninspired of late because of lackluster performances.
With artists often cancelling their shows at the last minute and venues offering unprofessional services, Tài said he preferred to stay home and watch TV shows.
Only a few teahouses such as Đồng Dao, Không Tên, and We, along with theatres such as Phú Nhuận, Hoàng Thái Thanh and IDECAF, still maintain their services.
Other popular destinations, including 2B, ATB, and MTV teahouses, have closed.
People’s Artist Hồng Vân said the future of the Phú Nhuận Theatre was uncertain as it was difficult to compete with other sources of entertainment.
Elite Artist Mỹ Uyên from 5B Theatre on Võ Văn Tần Street in District 3 said the lack of meaningful scripts had also discouraged locals from visiting the theatre.
“We usually have to borrow scripts from classic or popular novels overseas,” she said, adding that many artists preferred working for TV shows to performing in traditional theatres because they could earn better money.
Meanwhile, unconventional venues such as Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street in District 1 have been drawing more local visitors and foreign tourists to street performances.
One of the liveliest events hosted on the street last month was the HCM City Street Show.
The show’s creative combination of international contemporary performances and Vietnamese traditional culture was considered a rousing success.
Another musical event, titled Thành Phố Tôi Yêu (My Beloved City), was also a hit.
The event, with famous singers such as Thanh Bùi, Đức Tuấn, Hà Anh Tuấn, Ái Phương and Vũ Cát Tường, marked the 41st anniversary of the day Sài Gòn – Gia Đình was officially named after President Hồ Chí Minh.
Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street has become so popular that many people of all ages visit it on the weekend for entertainment purposes.
From professional to amateur, academic to street, traditional to modern, all kinds of performances can be seen on the street for free.
“It’s so beautiful, especially on rainy nights, to see both artists and audiences live for music!” Ngọc Anh said.
In addition to street venues targeting large audiences, other venues cater to smaller, niche audiences.
Singer Đào Hạnh said that entertainment spots such as nightclubs, pubs and lounges with electronic dance music (EDM) have gained popularity among younger generations in recent years.
“These spots are usually in high-rises and are open from 10pm to 1-2am every day,” she said.
Coffee shops with acoustic music are also appealing to many people, according to Hạnh.
Acoustic music spots offer performances with different themes each week, ranging from classical music to the songs of Vietnamese composer Trịnh Công Sơn.
“The atmosphere at acoustic music spots is more laid-back. I can just think about listening to songs that I love while enjoying a hot cup of coffee,” Tú Nguyễn, 27, said.
As more alternatives such as free street and digital platforms continue to emerge, traditional entertainment spots seem to be increasingly neglected and face an uncertain future.
Still, teahouses, cultural houses and theatres could expect more visitors if the quality of their offerings improved.
“A part of me is always longing for the good old days when my friends and I queued for tickets to plays at Phú Nhuận Theatre and music performances at Đồng Dao Teahouse,” Ngọc Anh said. “I hope to have a reason to return some day.” — VNS