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The Lao National Theatre on Manthatulat Road features an interesting performance of traditional music and dancing aimed directly at the tourist market. It plays nightly from December to March. At other times it can be seen in the Lane Xang Hotel. The old "Russian Circus" established in the 1980s is now known as Hong Kanyasin. It performs from time to time in the National Circus venue in the north of town.
There are no raunchy live shows or titillating "cabaret" as in Thailand or the Philippines. Several hotels have night clubs catering to the wealthy local "elite" and foreigners. Beyond that, there are some very popular tightly-packed discos, night clubs and music and karaoke pubs that play a mix of Lao, Thai, Western and other Asian pop music, and where beer is still cheap by any standards.
There's no shortage of places for a quiet beer in Lao. In particular, the Mekong shoreline is packed with near-identical but pleasant bamboo-and-thatch beer gardens offering cold beer and spicy snacks. These are the place to start, and perhaps finish, a Vientiane evening. There are, however, a few more-sophisticated options.
Martini Lounge, just a block from the Mekong, opens at 6 p.m. Movies are shown on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m., while Thursdays are salsa nights, and most Fridays a DJ is spinning an eclectic music mix. Jazzy-Brick, on Thanon Setthathirat near the fountain, is perhaps the classiest and most expensive bar in town. There are two clubs near the Novotel hotel: DTech, in the hotel grounds, and Future, just outside, which plays '80s and '90s songs with a big video screen.
Other clubs worth checking out are Meena on Thadeua Road, which is popular with Lao teenagers and some foreigners who are in the know, and Marina, out on Airport Road, probably the biggest and most ostentatious of Vientiane's nightclubs. It has a diverse crowd and music, and there's a bowling alley next door.
Note that everything is supposed to close down before the start of the curfew, although some clubs stay open until 2 a.m. or later. The extremely popular Don Chan Palace Hotel Nightclub is open until 4 a.m. on weekends.