A bargirl is a woman who works as a hostess or dancer in bars to provide company or sexual services to patrons; the exact nature of services and varieties of bar vary depending on the bar's location. In most cases, these cater mostly to male clients, although in some cases women are also clients. Variants on the term include B-girl, "unhappy girl", "juicy girl", and "guest relations officer."
These kinds of bargirls include hostess bars (primarily in East Asia, but also elsewhere), go-go bars and "beer bars" (Southeast Asia), dance bars (India), and while the term "bargirl" is not used, the basic form is similar in some other areas such as the boliches of Argentina.
Note that this term should not be confused with a barmaid, who serves drinks in a bar but is not expected to personally entertain customers or provide sexual services.
The term is often associated with some Southeast Asian countries (especially Thailand and the Philippines) where many (but not all) bargirls also act as prostitutes, either on-site (effectively a brothel) or by being available to be bar fined (see below).
Bargirls sometimes get a commission on drinks bought by their customers and a percentage of the escort fee ("bar fine") paid by any customer who wishes to take them out of the bar. In other cases, they may have a periodic quota of drinks or bar fines, or both.
In addition to individually entertaining customers, many bargirls work in go-go bars, where they are expected to dance on stage, often in skimpy costumes like bikinis, semi-nude, or nude.
A bar fine is the payment made by a customer to the operators of a bar (particularly hostess bars or go-go bars) that allows a dancer or hostess or some other employee of that bar to leave work early, usually in order to accompany the customer outside the bar. A bar fine may also be required in order to take the employee to a more secluded part of the same establishment, such as a short-time room.
Although it is not universal, this practice is very frequently associated with prostitution—especially in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and the Philippines. The bar fine amount and whether sexual services are included in the bar fine or have to be negotiated separately are both subject to local custom.
It is also a standard feature of dockside nightclubs in South Africa that cater to foreign seamen.
Bar fines also make an appearance in Latin American countries in the form of a Salida (Spanish: "exit fee"); in some other venues, such as Argentina's boliches, there can be a similar requirement to buy the lady a number of drinks before she leaves.
Where bargirls act as prostitutes, patterns vary widely: regionally, between bars and also just on individual preference. Some will seek to have as many customers as possible in a given day, like many prostitutes in the west; these women will generally only take "short-time" clients. Others will be more selective and only accept one customer in a day, taking "long-time" customers overnight or even for a few days following.
In some cases, the cost of a bar fine is fixed; in others, the cost of a "long-time" bar fine is higher than of a "short-time" one.
A payment over and above the bar fine may or may not be expected; this varies nationally (payment for sexual services is almost always separate from the bar fine in Thailand), and by the length of time the bargirl spends (it is generally customary for "long time" but not for "short time" in the Philippines). When it is paid separately from the bar fine, this additional payment is usually referred to as a "tip" or a "gift".
Working conditions vary both between and within countries; even within individual countries, conditions can vary highly between venues. For example, there is significant variation among establishments in Thailand's redlight district near Pattaya Beach; some bars employ relatively well-paid women who live independently from the bar, while others will employ lower-paid women who live at the bar in poor conditions.
In some countries prostitution is treated as a serious crime; in the Philippines it is covered by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. In Thailand, and in many other countries where bar fine prostitution is common, it is technically illegal but widely tolerated.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits American soldiers from purchasing bar fines, which is an offense considered equal to buying the services of a prostitute.