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In The Zone

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01 May 2004
William R. Morledge
Rififi's Ghost Returns !
NEW  Jap Sex Tours
Rumor Of The Month
May's Follies in review
Soft Kink is Back

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         On the streets later than my usual, I went for a massage on Suriwong Road near Thaniya Rd last week, arriving just before 01:00 a.m.   When I went in, I asked the masseuse what time they closed.   "Two a.m.," she replied in Thai.   I asked, in the lingua-franca, why they could stay open until 2:00 a.m. when my regular massage parlor just across the street had just now closed.   She replied in plain English, "In the Zone."

         "In the Zone", indeed.   It was a wake-up call for me for a couple of reasons.   The first, although I had heard and read that the 01:00 curfew would be coming into effect in the "non-Zone" areas on 01 April, I had not really been out late enough to witness the early shut-downs, nor had the Press made a definitive announcement of the implementation.   I had assumed that the 01:00 a.m. closing had fallen through the cracks, as had the midnite closing plan the month before.   Had the 01:00 a.m. closing come into effect without my even noticing?   Wow.

         As none of my acquaintances had mentioned it, I began to wonder whether they even knew about the 01:00 a.m. implementation. (Or was it only me - living in my own little vacuum?)   I thought it might be interesting to conduct an official MIDNITE HOUR poll.   Guess what?   By mid-April, less than ten percent of the people I queried were aware the two-tier curfew had actually been implemented.   Others had heard that, for example, Soi Cowboy was closing at 01:00, but they were not sure if it was really true.   Note: I was not asking couch potatoes, or Mormons, or nerds - I was asking 'players', those, like myself, who get out and about several times a month to have a quiet, or noisy drink on one of Bangkok's Neon Sois .   So, in spite of all the hullabaloo, the protests, and rants over the preceding months from virtually everyone, almost no one was aware that there had been any implementation of the "Zones".   Wow, again.

         The second thing that came back to me when the aforementioned masseuse said, "In the Zone," was that the so-called Patpong Entertainment Zone covers a lot of territory in addition to just Patpong 1 and Patpong 2.   As mentioned in this column two months ago, it is comprised of the "island" formed by Suriwong Rd, Rama IV Rd, Silom Rd and Dejo Road.   This is a fairly large area, to include Night Entertainment Areas in Silom Soi 2 and Soi Katoey, and Soi Ginza (Soi Thaniya).   Most of the venues in the Patpong Entertainment Zone are not, however, in the Night Entertainment game.   But it begs the question, why have we not seen the details on Bangkok's three Night Entertainment Zones' boundaries published officially, in the Press or elsewhere?

         More important, though, than any survey of mine among friends and fellow night crawlers would be a late night survey of all of the Expat Night Entertainment Areas in Bangkok to see just how the Zone implementation was going down in practice.   

         MIDNITE HOUR decided it would be most interesting to start with non-Zone Entertainment Areas, and save the Patpong Night Entertainment Zone for last, now that it alone was supposed to have the luxury of being the only Expat area still closing at 02:00a.m.

         We found that although the Zone Implementation started off with all parties taking it very seriously, it was put to the test day by day, night by night, by the individual Night Entertainment Venue owners.   At April's end, bar owners in each respective Night Entertainment Area had pushed the envelope as much as they dared, determining just how much the law would allow.   This is what we found:-
  •  Soi Cowboy - Virtually all bars staying open until 02:00 a.m., but religiously dousing all outside lights and signs to make the soi appear closed.   Bangkok's Finest on the scene to supervise...

  •  Cowboy Annex - Most bars closed at 01:00 a.m., some bars remaining open until 02:00a.m., with sign lighting turned off.

  •  Easy Square - Most bars closed at 01:00 a.m., two bars remaining open until 02:00 a.m.

  •  Washington Square - All bars, bar restaurants and massage parlors closed down at 01:00 a.m., or before.

  •  Queen's Park Plaza - Some bars open until 02:00 a.m., all outside lights off, curtains pulled where applicable.

  •  13 Night Market - Open until 02:00 a.m., all lights aglow.

  •  Soi Dead Artists - A 50-50 split, generally along lines of whether the venues were 'new' (01:00 a.m.) or 'old' (02:00 a.m.).   One aspect, as some may recall, of current Crackdown policy also concerns itself with when operating licenses were obtained.   Nevertheless, one 'new' venue was closing at 01:30, or at 02:00 if the local precinct's Men In Tan happened to be looking the other way.   Another 'new' venue was closing at 02:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays only.

  •  Nana Plaza - Rock & Roll full-bore until 02:00 a.m., all lights on.

  •  Soi Katoey, Patpong II - In the Zone. - 02:00 a.m.

  •  Tobacco Road (Soi Zero) - Some bars open until 02:00 a.m., most lights turned off at 01:00 a.m..

  •  Thermae Coffee Shop - Open until 02:00 a.m., sign lights on.
  •        Patpong 1 -    Entering Patpong 1, I stopped and assessed the hurricane damage.   I looked at my watch, it was 01:20 a.m. - the place should have been jumping.   To the contrary, the street was in semi-darkness.   The full length of Patpong was a sea of trash and disassembled shanties from their 'Night Market'.   
         (...continued below...)

           Like sharks patrolling in ankle-deep surf, the cartoonishly-voluptuous transgenderites wade across and back again through the detritus of what was only an hour ago Patpong 1's teeming, steaming night market.   It's 01:30 in the morning, and although the bars are not required to close for another half hour, many already have.   The entire length of Patpong Road has become unnavigable - it is inundated with plywood sheets, metal frames, giant metal lockers - and awash in trash from the evening's hustle of counterfeit goods.   With most of the lights already doused, the nearly dark Patpong 1 has the look and feel of a ghetto in ruins.   
          Mingling with the riggers who will soon commence their nightly carting away of the now-disassembled night market, the nearly-anatomically correct 'sharks' are looking for stragglers who have come to Patpong not knowing that the action has already petered-out.   The sharks call out in falsetto from the middle of the roadway, "I can do anything for you."   As they wade through the debris toward the stragglers, they repeat their enticements, scratching at them 'playfully' with their long fingernails.   

             As you may have correctly assumed, once the Night Market commences its close-down routine, it becomes, literally, a no-man's land for customers.   Riggers throwing plywood sheets, forklifts speeding down too-narrow lanes and piles of goods and construction materials being thrown noisily onto the footpaths.   Very few expats were willing to enter Patpong Road, most were observed turning away to go to McDonalds, or somewhere further down the road.   

             Although many of the bars had closed early, the few bars that remained open were doing so only for form's sake - some bars had, at a maximum, three or four customers nursing a last drink, usually there were none.   The A-Go-Go girls had already changed into street clothes in most of the bars, and were occasionally on stage, sometimes with the dek serbs, shuffling back and forth - playing at it.   Some bars had already shut their D.J.s down for the night and switched on the house lights.

             It was as if a cruel joke had been perpetuated on the once illustrious Patpong.   They had been bestowed the special status of 'Zonehood' - and it meant absolutely nothing; they too, were effectively neutralized at 01:00 a.m. - not by official zeal, but by reckless riggers the almost unanimously rude Night Market stall owners.    The irony deepens when one considers that with very few exceptions, all the other Night Entertainment Areas outside the Zone were staying open  -to a greater or lesser extent-  until 02:00 a.m.   "In the Zone", indeed.

             Nevertheless, without question or debate, April's patchwork implementation of the Night Entertainment Zones represents the biggest step yet by the Autocracy in it's zealous pursuit of being seen to be doing good.   In this case, the "good" is being brought about by a complex public dance to first, create the perception that the modesty of the nation's social fabric has been outraged, and then demonstrate how they came to it's rescue.

             It matters little that they took two years to do it and that, for the time being, it is only a partial implementation.   It matters little that they have repeatedly embarrassed themselves with an unending parade of inept clowns and baboons, many of whom were prominent government ministers.   It matters not that they backtracked, and watered-down and compromised their original plan many times over.   It matters not that they made more 'mid-course corrections' than the Mars lander.   All of that is now behind them, a major milestone in the Crackdown has been reached, however low key, however quietly.

             Few proprietors in the Night Entertainment Industry have any illusions about the willingness of the Autocracy to undo them completely if they think it will show the Autocracy in a better light, and if they think they can get away with it.   The fact that they will further destroy the country's tourism and usher in Western style unmonitored prostitution has never phased the Autocracy one whit.

    Related Stories:

    War hobbles tourism
    Separatist fighting in South
    hits Thai tourism, nightlife

             As we go to press, it is four days since the largest separatist uprising in the history of the South was suppressed - by overwhelming firepower.   Rebel bands conducted coordinated dawn assaults on Government positions resulting in Government forces losing five dead, and the Islamic separatist rebels losing one hundred and seven dead .   

             But it didn't take four days for negative repercussions to amass in the tourist industry.   Within 24 hours we had several email and phone inquiries from overseas on the insurrection and all but one were planning to cancel their visits to Thailand.   We will take the liberty of assuming that a similar negative response was observed on a much larger scale, countrywide, from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, on down.   

             Like it or not, Thailand does not function in a vacuum - quite the contrary, we are in a 'fishbowl' of our own making.   As an example, this writer even received inquiries from the USA into the Suan Phlu ghetto fire last week.   Significant events in Thailand are quite often instantaneous world news.   

             It is not a matter of if the separatist flare-up is affecting Thailand's Tourism/Nightlife scene, but how badly it is being affected. Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable to believe anyone could predict the precise extent to which Tourism/Nightlife has, or will be hurt.   But if an 'educated guess' were to be made based on downturns brought about by other recent events (the most recent invasion of Iraq and the SARS epidemic) it could be reasonably expected that business in the Tourism/Nightlife arena would drop another ten percent for about two to three months before returning to normal.   This is based on a very shaky assumption that the violence in the South will not continue at its current vigorous level.   Should the war in the South continue to flare at this rate or at an accelerated rate, Tourism/Nightlife would likely be crippled for the long term.

    Pimps to profit most
    Night Entertainment workers
    flocking to overseas jobs

             The sex workers' rights movement Empower was recently quoted in the Press as saying the Social Order Crusade cutbacks in the Night Entertainment industry's working hours are causing an exodus of sex workers from Thailand to such countries as Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.   

             Empower spokesperson Surang Janyam said, "It has become a golden period for pimps and 'agents' to take advantage of these women."   Typically, women wanting to work overseas must use an agent, who handles the obtaining of passports, travel arrangements and introductions to employers.   The young women must, on average, fork over to these 'agents' a minimum of 400,000 baht for this 'service'.   These monies are taken, up front, from their earnings while abroad.   Their passports are taken from them, and they may not return home until such funds are repaid.   "For example, women working in Hong Kong must have sex with 200 clients within two weeks to pay back around 400,000 baht to their agent," Ms Surang said.

             Likewise, other service industry workers directly affected by the Crackdown are queuing up to work abroad.   Increasing numbers of legitimate traditional masseuses (not in the sex trade) are making arrangements to work "anywhere" they can, as long as its "not in Thailand".   

             This eagerness to work abroad is not significantly dampened by several recent stories in the Media concerning the discovery, release and repatriation of large numbers of Thai women found to have been forced into prostitution in Hong Kong and Japan.   Many of the released women were promised by their 'agents' that they would be working in 'legitimate' occupations, only to be abducted into brothels.

             Excuse me, but the last time I looked, when women are taken and held against their will and forced to work - in ANY capacity - one does not call it by other names, one calls it "slavery".   One also calls it "kidnapping".   Euphemisms such as, 'made to work as prostitutes' so favored by the Press completely ignore the real issues, thereby ameliorating the public's perception of the evil perpetuated by these kidnappers and their pimp 'agent' accomplices.   His Excellency the Dr and his minions who are so feverishly and self righteously implementing this so-called Social Order Crusade can certainly be proud that they have contributed so significantly to this more ancient and traditional form of human suffering.

    Spas to close earlier
    Perverse, twisted logic
    continues to carry the day

             The late C&W singer Waylon Jennings said it best, "One more time, just so's I'm sure I understand..."   

             None other than the clear-headed and forward thinking Ms. Sudarat, who now wears the Public Health Ministry hat, explained that legitimate spas and beauty parlors were going to be forced to close early as a means of allowing these venues to 'distinguish themselves' from businesses offering sex services.   ....Yes, we (think we) understand - they are going to be forced to close down early for good we have that right?

             Legitimate spas will be forced to close at 10:00 p.m. and legitimate beauty parlors will be forced to close at 8:00 p.m., and, you see, by 'distinguishing themselves' in this manner, they will have proven to the Benevolent Moral Guardians that they are legitimate, and are ..."safe and truly for health those offered by Mr Chuwit."   That's an actual quote, I didn't make any part of it up.

             By the way, just in case any of those 'legitimate' spas and beauty parlors who have been forced to close down early for good behavior, start getting any hanky-panky ideas - don't even think about it.   The Benevolent Moral Guardians' inspectors will be peeking in on you on a "regular inspection" basis.   The mind boggles - just imagine the additional number of police inspectors and Public Health Ministry inspectors they are going to need to bring on board, not to mention the all the additional overtime they will be able to let the public pay for.

             But the big item that escapes us is why they didn't think of this before?   Forcing the legitimate establishments to close earlier instead of the 'illegitimate' ones is truly ingenious - perhaps we should have had Ms Sudarat heading up the Crackdown from the beginning.   The old gag about "no good deed goes unpunished" has at last become a reality.

    New sex tour for Japs
    All-nighters from 'fishbowls'
    - a busload at a time

             It didn't take the more innovative Thai and Japanese sex tour operators long to figure out that if they were going to continue to make money in the sex industry during the Crackdown, they were going to have to find a way to stay below the Benevolent Moral Guardians' radar screens.   They also knew that the current Autocratic regime was only concerned about saving national face, not actually improving morality or the health or well-being of the Night Entertainment worker.   They knew that the answer most likely could be found in combinations and permutations of already successful sex-service gigs.   But what could they come up with that would be both low-profile and could be done in such volume as to make the big bucks?

             A venue, whose name will be withheld to protect the employees interviewed, is now rapidly recruiting young women to work in their 'fishbowl', ('Fishbowl' as used in the large steam & cream massage parlors.)   This is how it works; the sex tour operator arranges to bring prospective Japanese sex tourists in, a busload at a time, to view 'the goods' in this venue's 'fishbowl'.   The girls they choose are theirs to take back to their hotels for the full range of sexual pleasures until the following morning.   The cost to the Japanese customer is approximately US$ 100, of which the girl from the fishbowl will receive 700 baht, the rest being divvied up between the sex tour operator and the venue providing the 'fishbowl'.

             The girls are told that although 700 baht is not very much for their all-night services, they can almost, almost guarantee that they will make at least 1,000 to 2000 baht in tips, if - as they have claimed - they really know how to fully take care of customers...

             A setup like this would be hard to bust; from all outward appearances, it could be just any dating or escort service.   No money changes hands in the venue.   Nor are there any sexual encounters at the venue.   Once again, the Benevolent Moral Guardians can give themselves a little pat on the back for having driven even more prostitution underground, where health monitoring, etc., will be nonexistent.

    "Rumor Of The Month"

    Where there's  

          "Rumor" is defined as "no-fault confabulation, chain-reaction speculation...."    Nevertheless MIDNITE HOUR again presents the most outrageous / prevalent rumor to cross our desks this past month:

           "A new three storey building at the corner of Sukhumvit Road and Soi 1 will, when completed this November, devote the entire second floor to a "Thermae-Style" late night coffee shop, which, we have been guaranteed, will close at 02:00 a.m., or later. "

    MIDNITE HOUR includes as part of our Rumor Of The Month an ongoing evaluation as to the accuracy of said rumors since the inception of the award.

    As of 01 May 2004, the Rumor Accuracy Quotient remains at -

    See our Archived Rumors at their worst : click HERE.

    May's Follies
    begin here

          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  1 MAY, 2004 :

      • PATPONG  I • .
               We don't know if this is the 'norm' for them, but Radio City was rocking and rolling straight through to 02:30 a.m. the other night.   The live band kept folks toe-tapping well past the Zone closing time, but the authorities were turning a blind eye.   If nothing else, this confirms that the arbitrary closing times currently in effect could be extended to the benefit of both tourists and tourism.   A less obtuse, less autocratic government, I'm sure, would capitalize on this simple fact.   Rumors to the effect that the upstairs Lucifer Disko Tk and the King's Lounge Disco down the way were indulging in after-hours delights proved groundless, however.

           The slender freelancer descends the curving staircase from the mezzanine and sidles up to the bar.   It is after the 02:00 a.m. closing time, so she whispers surreptitiously to the bartendee - could she have just one more Heineken?   It isn't, after all, for her - it's for her ferang companion upstairs.   The bartendee, looking guardedly over her shoulder, quickly slips a bottle of beer out of the refrigerator and slides it over to the girl.   The girl returns up the staircase, only to come back down a moment later.   Heineken still in hand, this time she asks for a bottle opener.
           No sooner has she opened it, than she is approached by two Thai males, who, from appearances are plain clothes police.   It looks for all the world like a minor after-hours bust is about to go down.   But no, the shorter of the two is whispering into the girl's ear and smiling broadly.   The girl shrugs, turns her back on them, and takes a long swig of the Heineken before turning around and handing the bottle to them.   
           The two Thai males finish the beer, wipe their mouths with the backs of their hands, smile again and start to leave, but not before the girl and the shorter male exchange sweet nothings at very close quarters for several more moments.   The girl's mangda and his street lout friend take less than a minute to finish off the ferang's beer, leaving the girl to return upstairs empty-handed to tend to her 'customer'.
        • PATPONG I • 

               Closed for one month in July 2001, the Supergirls upstairs A-Go-Go show bar had done a quickie renovation and had come back with a vengeance.   But it closed again in August 2003, apparently yet another victim of the Crackdown and ever encroaching Night Market.   In December of that year, it opened again - but with the "show" scene so severely hobbled by the Autocratic regime's Benevolent Moral Guardians, it seemed a shadow of it's former self.   Nevertheless, it hung on until March of this year before closing its doors once again.   It opened again, to everyone's amazement, this April.   Anyone putting book on how long it stays open this time?   Nevertheless, if for no other reason than Supergirls' colorful past, we wish them constancy.   • PATPONG I • 

      • PATPONG  II • .
               Opening as advertised on 3 April, Club Electric Blue put on the dog with introductory 50 baht drinks, and dek-serbs in pert Spartan-warrior cheerleader kit.   A large number of friends, well-wishers and the just-plain-curious came by for opening night festivities.   Advertising 50 dancers, I saw twenty-five, working in two shifts - the newly painted rap samak duan sign just outside the front door encouraging the remaining 25 to come in and go to work for a good salary.
             But that's the end of the good news.   Like Mae Nak descending from the darkened beams in the ceiling, the hoary ghost of the Rififi paid them an ominous visitation one week later, exacting her own sweet revenge.   Eager to 'protect & serve', Bang Rak's Men In Tan came a-knocking, advising that if they wanted to open under the legally registered name of "Rififi" they were welcome to keep on keeping on full-throttle.   Otherwise, however, they would be required to close until such time as the name was officially changed.   Just a matter of paperwork and 50,000 baht, which is the new official gouge for such services.   'Oh, and by the way, you can't register as "Club" Electric Blue, as that is someone else's legal name, so while you are getting ready to reopen, tear the "Club" part of your sign down.'   According to sources on the ground here, the owners were rushing to reopen as just plain "Electric Blue" by the end of this April, but apparently the cash exorcism of the Rififi ghost was not successful, and its entrapped and tormented soul is not yet free to wander...   • PATPONG II • 

      • NANA  PLAZA • .
               The Playskool A-Go-Go, gutted by fire in the closing days of March had hoped to complete renovations in time to open by the first of May.   Alas, the Songkran holidays did what they do best - empty out Bangkok - inclusive of all Isarn carpenters and electricians.   We had a peek inside last night, and the latest estimate for the reopening - 15 May - is a 'best possible scenario'.   There's still a lot of work to do.  • NANA PLAZA • 

      • SOI  COWBOY • .
                The bar abuilding these last two months between the Cowboy 1 & 2 bars is the Spice Girls.   Construction proceeded reasonably rapidly considering the Songkran holidays, however they are not quite going to make it.   I stuck my head in last night, and although the A-Go-Go lighting was on, and it looked complete, the owners said they would be opening this Tuesday, 4 May.   • SOI COWBOY • 

                The Apache have been naughty girls - Bangkok's Finest, this time from Thonglor, have recently dispensed some extra-judicial street justice in the form of an arbitrary two-week holiday. This, presumably to allow them adequate time to contemplate their inappropriateness.   The manageress, unfortunately, shed more heat than light on the problem, as she was still seething when I asked her for details - something about corrupt policemen - if you can believe that !   • SOI COWBOY • 

      • COWBOY  ANNEX • .
                The Richiy Bar bar beer, and the Richiy Bar Pool will be closed for a week or so, while they re-concrete their floor and make a few other modifications.   Look for them to be back open by mid-month.   • COWBOY ANNEX • 

                The Fantacy bar beer, in what's left of the 4-Pak, hasn't so much closed its doors as it has just withered away.   The sign remains, but that's about all.   Greener pastures, guys and girls...   • COWBOY ANNEX • 

                Spanky's Bar 2, likewise of the crumbling 4-Pak, has been quietly absorbed back into Spanky's Bar 1, just two doors down, so it's not really 'goodbye', it's 'see you around'.   • COWBOY ANNEX • 

                Honey Bar, the last soldier standing in the now derelict 4-Pak, must have had experience in selling refrigerators to Eskimos.   Before heading for higher ground, they sold the remainder of their lease to a new, if somewhat masochistic, 'owner'.      • COWBOY ANNEX • 

                The new bar beer opening in the 4-Pak where the Honey Bar once stood is called the Tuk Tuk Bar.   Imagine an almost entirely empty area about the size of Soi Cowboy which could only be entered by threading your way through yet another maze of beer bars and finally through a bottle-necked lane.   Imagine that in that huge compound, there are only two pool bars, an Internet cafe and one bar beer.   This is all that is left of the Asoke Corner half of the Cowboy Annex, which only a year ago had 33 jumping bars.   The night I was there, there were no customers.   Why anyone would start up a brand new bar beer in this area is beyond current theoretical physics to figure out.   But we extend our best wishes and welcome you to this vale of tears just the same.   • COWBOY ANNEX • 

      • SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS  (Soi 33) • .
              Opening exactly ninety days after being busted for lewdness and alleged prostitution, The Cave show bar has switched its neon sign back on.   Just to make sure the management knew they were paying attention, Bangkok's Finest immediately paid them an evening courtesy visit, red lights all asworl, ostensibly to insure that the soft-kink and the S&M were all just 'shows'.   Shake it, don't break it, guys, because, yes, they are going to keep a close watch on you.   • SOI DEAD ARTISTS • 

      • TOBACCO  ROAD  • .
                The Noi Bar Pool have rolled the roller-shutter up, dusted things off and hung out their brand new neon shingle.   They are a reincarnation of the Species Bar, which folded in November of last year after a four-year run at it.   Luck be theirs as they make their maiden sortie into a rather dark nightworld.  • TOBACCO RD  (Soi 0) • 

      • " SOI  KATOEY " • .
                The bar abuilding for the last two months, the one with the big sign saying they were "Opening In March", finally did - on 30 April.   But the new XantraX was only letting friends of the family in for their very "soft" opening.   The rest of us will have to wait for the grand opening next week.   Very well appointed, and minimally lit, someone invested a lot of money to make the XantraX an attraction.   It sits on the old Velvet digs, which cashed in its chips in February of this year.   Welcome to the sideshow.     • SOI KATOEY • 

      • EASY SQUARE • .
                Things are moving so swiftly at Easy Square, it's a little hard to follow if you are not a full time observer.   However one of the good things that has happened is the opening of the Mam & Mam Bar Beer at the back of the compound.   Business being a little sparse in the low season, they have yet to accumulate a staff of hostesses.   We nevertheless wish them luck as they make their lunge for the brass ring.     • EASY SQUARE • 

                Next door, the D & D Bar have also just hung their sign out to glow.   The 'D's are for Dao and Dan, Dao being the front person.   Also short on staff, friends have come by to help out and to give them some face-validity until such time as they get a 'working' crew.   May the capricious night-gods see things your way (at least most of the time).     • EASY SQUARE • 

                The tiny TL Bar has put up a new sign and is now calling itself the Apisara.   Still just as tiny, it seems to always have a few customers.     • EASY SQUARE • 

                Frenchman Ludo Ludvig's dream of becoming a martial arts mogul has taken a king-hit, and may be down for the count.   Citing money and other problems, the fledgling two-month old 22 Square Boxing Arena, which, at this juncture consists of exactly one boxing ring in an open field, is gathering dust at an accelerated rate.   This once again confirms MIDNITE HOUR's frequently stated conviction that boxing and bars just don't mix - the trail of failed boxing rings at Clinton Plaza (twice), Sukhumvit Square, and Cowboy Annex (twice) provides a fairly good indicator.   But before we get to patting ourselves on the back and telling the rest of the world, "I told you so," see the item below...     • EASY SQUARE • 

                Calling itself just plain Easy Square Muay Thai, a second muay-thai boxing ring has opened up behind a walled off area next to the Ni Hong Kai Japanese restaurant.   This time, the owner is not a greenhorn ferang, he is a local with, or so people on the ground are saying, experience as a fight promoter.    They are currently scheduling muay thai bouts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and the ticket price of 350 baht per person includes one beer and one Pepsi.  Frankly, this does not sound like a healthy development in terms of Night Entertainment.   We hope we are wrong, and we hope this is not the beginning of the nak-leng meddling and drunken brawling which has accompanied the previous attempts to establish boxing rings in bar areas, but we cannot, of course, guarantee it.   Nevertheless we (think we) welcome them to the night games.     • EASY SQUARE • 

                A brand new bar, yet to be named has opened up just behind Nice Bar in the new section.   On 30 April, the party balloons and eats were out for all to enjoy, and a mix of ferang and locals was seen to be doing just that.   They think they might, maybe, get around to putting up a sign in the coming weeks, but last night, as the Mekhong flowed freely over an abundance of ice cubes, they were in no mood to discuss it.   Welcome to the night circus.     • EASY SQUARE • 

                The Grim Reaper has drawn the shroud over the Friend Ship pool bar at the back.   It's too bad they couldn't have held on a little longer, it looks like Easy Square is starting to pick up a little.   Even so, Easy Square has yet to hit that elusive "critical mass"  -  it still has a way to go before it will have that 'look-and-feel' of a fully fledged Night Entertainment Area.     • EASY SQUARE • 

      •  QUEEN'S  PARK  PLAZA• 
                The No ! Bra bar beer, Queen's Park Plaza's seminal bar, is closed for renovations - again.   Having completed their last top-to-bottom overhaul in October of '02, they seem to think another major sprucing up is necessary.   If the last several months are any indication, look for it to have a high percentage of nearly anatomically correct 'hostesses'.   Earlier in the month, I spoke with the mamasan, and she thought the No ! Bra would be reopening at the end of the month - well, it's the end of the month and they are not quite there.   They will likely roll up the shutters and roll out the red carpet sometime this coming week.     • QUEEN'S PARK PLAZA • 

      • The No-News-Is Good-News Dept.• 

      • " 13  NIGHT  MARKET " • .

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