Bangkok's Night Scene In Review
Bangkok, 01 May 2003
William R. Morledge
The dust having pretty much settled from the brief Coalition military expedition into Iraq, it appears that the real, or perhaps the primary cause for the sudden drop-off in the Night Entertainment business in Bangkok was --and is-- SARS. It should be said that the Thai Government is pursuing a wiser path than virtually all of its neighbors, including Singapore, re: screening arriving tourists and others. Thailand's cases of this highly contagious virus have been negligible to date, and we can assume the strict screening on arrival will continue until the threat has disappeared. If in the long run, the seemingly excessive screening proves to be effective, Thailand will emerge a big winner, both health-wise and tourism-wise. An exercise in deferred gratification, Thailand will have proven itself a 'safe' destination, thereby improving the tourism scene in general and the Night Entertainment Scene in particular.
ENTERTAINMENT AREA / LIKELY CLOSING DATE
Sukhumvit Square / 2003 (Already closed)
Clinton Plaza / 2003 (Last bar should close in 3 mos.)
Cowboy Annex / 2004-Front, 2005-Behind (Subway Stn. opens.)
Queen's Park Plaza / 2007 (Owner would sell for 300 M Baht)
Tobacco Road (Soi Zero) / Indefinite
The biggest surprise was a persistent rumor that Washington Square would be sold and redeveloped into a mega-5-star hotel by 2007. This sounds very tenuous, and MIDNITE HOUR has awarded it the "Rumor Of The Month" Award
In summary, MIDNITE HOUR expects Bangkok's 'Entertainment Blues' to have disappeared by the end of August and that the Night Entertainment Scene will be back to 'full-tilt' by then.
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 30 April, 2003 :
On The Ramp PATPONG II , the Rig-1-Gold has hung its sign back up, so we can assume they are going to stick around for the foreseeable future. Keep on keeping on, gang.
Also on The Ramp PATPONG II , the Dome Juniority Club has hung its old sign back up, after having played around with signs reading Dome Junior and (the resurrected) The Rock. One can't help but suspect .
Our signage problems continue... The Wun Pub next to the Thai Room PATPONG II has finished a minor renovation, but hasn't replaced the sign yet. No name change is in order; they say the sign will be up "soon".
Still on the subject of signs, next door to the aforementioned Wun Pub PATPONG II is its "sister" pub, which first opened in October of last year. It has been plagued with frequent temporary closures, but has finally got a name and a brand-new sign. Business looked brisk at the "new" New Lady. We wish you consistency.
It's too soon to tell, but the stairwell leading up to the old King's Place (Soi Bookstore PATPONG II ) had been swept clean, and all the lights were on. While activity levels were high, no one was saying anything one way or the other regarding its fate. Closed since May of 2001, only time will tell if the King's Group plans to reopen at that location.
On the third floor, the large bar at the top of the stairwell NANA PLAZA has displayed several signs, sometimes simultaneously , since it tore down the common wall and joined with the Beverly Hills in August 2000 (to wit: Carousel, Hollywood Strip and XXX). It now appears to have settled on the name "Hollywood Carousel". Brand-new signage says as much. We can't help wondering what the legal registered name is... Business as usual - keep on rockin'.
The Kool Spot Pub SOI KATOEY is open for business once again, and business looked brisk.
Now we (think we) know..... After fooling around with different entrances, and having different venues on different floors and trying out various signs with various combinations of the words, "Speed", "R&B" and "Hip Hop" over the last nine months, it looks as though the dust has settled: Speed SOI KATOEY will be on the first floor, and Hip Hop will be on the 2nd. We wish you consistency.
The Lemon COWBOY ANNEX bar has ditched their old sign, which read, "Lemon Bar Bear", and replaced it with one reading just "Lemon", thus undoing the work of previous gremlin painters.
Last month we reported the opening of the 0-2 bar in the area previously occupied by the C.J. Pub and Restaurant COWBOY ANNEX . This month two other bar beers have opened in the remaining area under that roof. The first to open was the C.J., which is a tiny bar beer facing onto Sukhumvit Road. The Mitr bar opened shortly thereafter, and in the back corner is a single pool table shared by the three bars. New signs to be up by the end of the month. We wish these two new arrivals the best of luck as they cast their lot with the rest.
The Prime Bar COWBOY ANNEX , closed tighter than McLeod's coin-purse last month, has reopened. As the old neon sign wasn't turned on, we asked the proprietress if it was still going keep its old name. She asked why, and we explained that since they were closed last month (3 separate observations), we didn't know whether or not this was going to be a new bar. At which point she emphatically denied they had been closed last month. We bring this up as a matter of interest, as this phenomenon is an oft-repeated occurrence. We are not sure why bar owners would have others believe they have never closed, when in fact they and their chattel had long faded into the night. Nevertheless, we (think we) welcome them back to the Night Scene merry-go-round.
Walker's Bar COWBOY ANNEX , reopened only last month, has gone belly-up - this after having been run out of Sukhumvit Square by the local institutional Mafias. They apparently could not come up with the nut for the rent. Not only are they closed, but the premises have been stripped --lock, stock and barrel-- and swept clean. The area is up for re-rental to whomever. Interested parties can inquire in the Say Hi two doors down.
New on the scene is the No Money No Honey bar beer. Located at the old Rin's Karaoke digs COWBOY ANNEX . Pretty much just another bar beer; it didn't look all that busy. Wish them luck as they throw their hat in the ring.
Red Hot Pepper has opened in the 8-Pak COWBOY ANNEX at the old Witch Bar location. They seem eager to enter the fray: they are already starting on their Red Hot Pepper web site.
Next to them, also in the 8-Pak COWBOY ANNEX , the second of two Lucky Bars reopened after a one-month closure. We'd welcome them back, but were they ever really gone? One can't help but wonder why the 8-Pak is the most volatile of the bar beer areas - having the highest turnover rate in the Capitol. Rents too high? Too many people with too much money ready to 'get into the bar business'? We'll leave it as an open question for the time being...
The Pui Massage now has an additional name sign which reads, "Sarinna" SOI DEAD ARTISTS . As before, various Thai massages available.
The Popeye 2 QUEENS PARK PLAZA bar beer has its roller-shutters pulled down and padlocked to the deck; only darkness shines out from within. Originating in Clinton Plaza in 1998, when Clinton Plaza was still called 'Thermae Annex', Popeye saw the handwriting on the wall early on and moved to Cowboy Annex in May 2000. The Popeye 2 opened in Queen's Park Plaza at the end of 2001 as an offshoot of the original Popeye. (The original Popeye still going strong in the Cowboy Annex.) Let's wait and see if Popeye 2 gets its second wind, or if it plans to sell.
Also in the main building, the Delifrance has bid us all a final adieu - only its darkened doorways greeted old customers. Likewise, the Family Mart convenience store has battened the windows and barred the door. With only the Living Room and Monica's remaining, we can expect the last chapter in the Clinton saga to be written in the very near future.
TOBACCO ROAD (Soi Zero)
Datzit Fernow. © 2003, BANGKOK EYES / bangkokeyes.com
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