Established as a gentlemen’s club in Yangon in the 1880s, the Pegu Club’s purpose was to serve and entertain the British army officers and civilian administrators after the annexation of Upper Burma in 1885. However, it quickly became known throughout the empire as the venue from where the country was unofficially run.
Although this Victorian club has not been operational for over fifty years, its buildings are still in existence. Obscured by dense trees and thick shrubbery, the gates that were firmly shut to all but those who governed the empire are now rusted open. Families inhabit the outbuildings, while the interconnected wings of the club are battered and worn, with many barely standing. Teak columns bend under the weight of roofs on the brink of collapse. Broken windows are interwoven with errant vines and the once busy courtyards are covered by tall weeds and wild grass. The walls resonate with the sounds of colonial elitism and injustice. The scene of immense suffering; it was also used as an officers’ brothel during World War II by the Japanese Army throughout their brutal occupation.
It is a time of both stagnation and flux in Yangon, and this is a city filled with structures that infuse its painful past with the notion of not knowing what will come next.