50 Shades of Red: Recreational Communism in Post-Socialist Vietnam
Using a post-socialist framework, this article analyzes recreational communism, that is, the commodification of communism through commercial places that use Bao Cấp (subsidy period in Vietnam) for tourism and leisure. These places include cafés, restaurants, souvenir shops, art galleries, or flea markets. Why do places dedicated to pleasure make use of such a painful period? I propose to go beyond this paradox by focusing not only on the economic, but also the emotional, political, and memorial value of Bao Cấp, both in the way they are designed by their owners and practiced by customers. The visual descriptions and interviews I accumulated since 2006 allow me to address the dynamics of social interactions between people, place, and space. The spatial analysis of this material explores recreational communism as a practice of social distinction in the sense that it involves upper classes within the most globalized cities of the country.