Although drayangs are often seen as shady and dingy liquor houses in the country where women are exploited, drayang owners themselves feel that they are doing service to those who would be unemployed otherwise.
From a total of 49 drayangs in the country, Thimphu alone has a total of 14 drayangs and more than 300 women are employed in the drayangs annually.
Staff are paid a basic monthly salary of Nu 8,000 and depending on performance, the salary is raised.
Though drayang workers are paid between Nu 10,000- Nu 20,000 currently, most of them still hesitate to open up due to the stigma attached.
A drayang owner who did not want to be named said that there are a few who confuse drayangs with night clubs.
“A woman working here may be feeding her whole household,” he said, “But people do not appreciate dignity of labor.”
Trophel Drayang alone employs over 100 girls annually.
Business peaks at 9:30pm and the drayangs close at 11pm sharp.
The Ministry of Labor and Human Resources has come up with a new rule on the signing of contracts for five years with provision fund of Nu 600 monthly between the drayangs and employees.
Drayangs are mostly frequented by males and sometimes by married couples, according to drayang owners.
A 22-year old drayang employee choosing anonymity said that she has been working for five years because she has a passion for dancing.
But she feels that most Bhutanese still carry a bad image of drayangs.
Khandu Wangmo, 21, who has been working in a drayang for four years, said a helpful owner and friendly staff makes it a good environment to work in. “The staff here earn through requests made by customers. But we never force them to make one.”
She also added that foreigners who visit the drayang like seeing them in the national dress.
Chairperson of Drayang Association also the Kalapingkha drayang owner, Kezang Phuntsho, said that drayangs are improving with cleaner work environment, better entertainment quality and respectful services but income generation is still low.
He has been running Kalapingka drayang for almost 10 years now with a minimum of 15-20 regular staff, paying them Nu 10,000-Nu 20,000 montly . “If it was so bad, it would have been closed down earlier only.”
The Drayang Association plans to conduct a study to improve drayang facilities.
Sangay Dema from Thimphu