Bangkok's Night Scene in review
Bangkok, 01 April 2003
William R. Morledge
The question on everyone's mind here in Bangkok is how is the War in Iraq affecting the Night Entertainment Scene ? MIDNITE HOUR has interviewed several Night Entertainment Venue owner-managers to get their thoughts on the subject. In addition, we have made our own observations over several evenings since the onset of the war in an attempt to obtain some first-hand input.
MIDNITE HOUR presents the NEWS on the Bangkok Night Scene; - the 'history-in-the-making' for all major Night Entertainment Areas for the month ending 31 March, 2003 :
The long-awaited opening of Shebas SOI COWBOY finally came to pass. Two shop houses wide, and two storeys high, half of it occupies what used to be Loretta's, one of the soi's founding bars. The second floor is primarily a staging area for dancers, who step down onto a clear plexiglass mezzanine floor. These 'upstairs' performers dance with the aid of suspended ropes instead of the usual chrome poles. This see-through mezzanine floor hovers just above the main A-Go-Go stage, giving it the now popular two-tiered effect. A-Go-Go is, of course, what it's all about. Employee uniforms are Egyptian in spirit, if not style. They have put a good first foot forward. Welcome to the pack.
Shark, whose real name remains The New Agogo Duck SOI COWBOY , was 'closed down' for part of the month, but reopened on the 30th with a "Welcome Back" party. We certainly didn't need an excuse for a party, but having one makes it all the more fun. Shake it, don't break it, gang.
While the Cool Spot SOI KATOEY looked physically open (the door was standing open), the bright lights were on, and no customers within. There were a couple of people milling around, but they gave the impression they were conducting a survey, or perhaps an inventory. Definitely not 'open for business'. MIDNITE HOUR will adopt a 'wait-and-see' on this one - we'll keep you informed.
Shortly thereafter, the New Lady Bar moved from two doors down into the original Say Hi COWBOY ANNEX area, thereby freeing up a large, double-wide area for...
The Walker's Bar is new to Cowboy Annex, but many will remember it from the now defunct Sukhumvit Square. As before, it has done itself up in fine style, and Pool Bar remains the prime agendum. Better luck this time around, gang.
Also from Sukhumvit Square, the At-10 bar has relocated into the empty spot between the Nok Merry Bar II COWBOY ANNEX and Lolitas. They have added a "2" to their name, becoming the At-10 2 Bar . The At-10 opened here in the Annex in March, but the entire staff quit due to lack of customers; they are rumored to be reopening this April 8th. More like after Songkran, wouldn't you say? Welcome to the Annex; we hope you are able to pull it together and get back on your feet.
Suzie has been leading a nomadic existence for the last year, or more. Her original bar in Clinton Plaza (the Suzie & Crazy Bar) folded in the sordid contractual scandal that left many bar owners holding the bag. But Suzie had seen the handwriting on the wall - several months before Clinton Plaza started to collapse, she had already opened a second place (Suzie Bar) across the street in Sukhumvit Square. While in Sukhumvit Square, she decided she would have better chance, economically, if she were to move away from her original Sukhumvit Road frontage back inside inside the compound, along the West wall. There, rents were substantially cheaper, and business almost as brisk. She remained there (as just plain Suzie) until 26 January this year, when Mafia elements leveled the compound. For the last couple of months, she had been considering different locations, but this last March decided to open her latest incarnation as; Suzie Bar Pub & Pool here in the Cowboy Annex. Welcome aboard. We hope your wandering days are over, Suzie, but none of us should be surprised if Cowboy Annex is the next 'opportunistic' Night Entertainment Area to fall under the redeveloper's shovel.
The Sukhumvit Square exodus continues with the new Only You Bar. This bar was known as the Princess Bar in Sukhumvit Square. I asked the owner why she changed the name. She explained that 'Princess' was too high a 'station', and that if she were to use it again, it might prove to be unlucky once more. (It might have had something to do with there already being a Princess Bar in the compound, but one supposes she could have called it the New Princess, or Princess II.) On the night of our visit, the Only You Bar COWBOY ANNEX had no khon serb; they had just not shown up for work, due to lack of business. Welcome to the travail; we hope you have some luck finding hostesses.
The people at Rin's Karaoke COWBOY ANNEX have cashed in their chips and are heading for higher ground. Aimed at the local clientele, it was only a matter of time before it would wink out of existence,
It had to happen eventually. The Honey Bar in the 4-Pak COWBOY ANNEX has gone full 'Katoey'. Although there have been bar beers in the past that have had katoeys as staff, this is a "first" for any of the major Night Entertainment Areas in Bangkok. Although the throng of transgenderites working there is not extremely aggressive, punters in the area would be well advised to see just who, precisely, is pulling on their shirt-tail whispering, "Iko wichoo hansom man."
Also in the 4-Pak COWBOY ANNEX , the Black & White Bar, mentioned last month, is still going strong, with an attractive bevy of hostesses. They are new to the area, and at the time they chose that name, they were unaware that their next-door neighbors in Soi Cowboy have had an A-Go-Go bar of the same name there for years. There is no plan for a name-change. Now we (think we) know.
The To Day bar COWBOY ANNEX , mentioned briefly above, has a new sign. They now represent themselves as To Day Airport Bar. We here at MIDNITE HOUR couldn't find anyone who could explain that one. Airport Bar?! Is this another case of ?
The Prime Bar COWBOY ANNEX , near the exit to Soi 23 has drifted off quietly into the night. After their hostesses disappeared, so did they. Not even the barstools remain.
One of the two Lucky Bars located in the 8-Pak COWBOY ANNEX has called it an evening. They may have finally seen the difference between "expansion" and "going into competition with oneself".
One stall over, still in the 8-Pak COWBOY ANNEX , the Witch bar is closing up shop. There is a person behind the bar, apparently watching over the chattel, but they are making no pretense at "Open".
In the front side, facing Sukhumvit Road, the building that once housed the C.J. Pub & Restaurant and the Friend Ship Bar COWBOY ANNEX has completed its transmogrification into two medium-sized bar beers, and one very tiny one. Only one, the O-2, is now open for business. They hope to have their new sign up in the coming week. We welcome them as they cast their lot with the rest...
The Nice Easy air conditioned pool bar in the back has a sign in Thai that reads, "Nice AND Easy" QUEENS PARK PLAZA , but we suspect this discrepancy can be explained by either gremlins or .
TOBACCO ROAD (Soi Zero)
Datzit Fernow. © 2003, Bangkok Eyes / bangkokeyes.com