One night between patrols out of Cat Lo, a buddy and I decided to go to Vung Tau for some beers and relaxation. We found ourselves in a bar chock full of Australian Soldiers. We were welcomed and began making friends.

We were sitting at our table, sharing beers and war stories with an Aussie Sergeant and a Corporal. After a few beers, the Corporal told us we better take a walk, because the fight was about to start, and unless we wanted to join in, we needed to leave. Not knowing exactly what was happening, we asked what was going on.

The Sergeant said, "At four oclock, the doors will be locked, a bell will ring and the fight will start. In five minutes, the bell will ring again and the fight will stop. The only rule is you never hit anyone who is down or not looking. Ready?"

Right then, the bell rang, and the Sergeant across from me swung and just missed my nose. I was able to land a punch to his jaw when he caught me in the temple, causing me to see stars and go down. I decided to sit out the rest of the festivities under the table. Very quickly, my buddy joined me on the floor with a shiner, and we backed up to the bar and watched the fight.

Sure enough, in five minutes, the bell rang again, and everything stopped. The tables and chairs were uprighted, the floor was swept and a round of beer appeared in front of everyone. The Sergeant told us they do this every afternoon at four "to get rid of the tension, mate."

I knew that the Aussies were a strange lot, but later that evening, I learned even more about them. We were enjoying ourselves with our new mates, when all of a sudden, the lights went out and the place went totally dark. Before we had time to be scared though, a light came on. To be more specific, a flame lit up, and we could see a naked dude dancing on the bar with a piece of flaming newspaper jammed in his butt. He was dancing and yelling, everyone was cheering and screaming, and when the flame got too close to his asscheeks, he grabbed a beer and doused it out, pitching us back into darkness.

It was dark for about ten seconds when the lights in the bar came back on. I was looking around to see if I could find the "dancer", but he was no where to be found. When we quit laughing, I asked the Soldiers at our table, "What the hell was that?"

The Corporal said, "We call it the Abo Fire Dance", and went on to explain that it's usually the payoff for losing a bet.

Just another non-war story from my time in the Nam.

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