“WE’LL never find out what the real story was,” Nguyen Qui Duc said. In Vietnam, he explains, you never learn the real story in situations like this. Exactly one month ago, the day before I spoke with Mr Duc, city authorities had closed down Tadioto, his gallery-bar-and-performance space, along with the 60-odd other studios, galleries, boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs that made up the arts district known as Zone 9. Were the reasons political, bureaucratic, or something else entirely?Zone 9 sprang into being in May, after Tadioto, along with an artists’ group called the Nha San Collective, an alternative theatre called Dom Dom and a few other pioneers, took over space inside an abandoned pharmaceutical factory on the south-eastern edge of downtown Hanoi. By October 2013 it had become the city’s go-to culture district, drawing performance artists and electronic musicians from Germany, France and Japan, readings by Vietnamese-diaspora authors, and most recently a group show on Vietnamese gay art and culture. Locals optimistically predicted it would become a Hanoian version of Beijing's Zone 798, a post-industrial district that has played a key role in the rise of China's contemporary art scene. The scale was always far smaller, but Zone 9 pulsed with energy every night of the week, with fashion scenesters spilling into the alleys between the cavernous industrial-chic music clubs and scarfing up late-night snacks at Wunder Waffel (run by a Vietnamese who grew up in Berlin) or BarHaiku, a quasi-Japanese noodle joint with the perplexing warning "Lesbians: thank you for not kissing" scrawled on the bar.