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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review

Welcome 'Soi Eden'

01 May 2005
William R. Morledge
Hell's Angel - Patpong Biker Chick
Khlong Toey - Hot Historical Pics

"Maybe on Moonlight Mile"
Rumor Of The Month
May's Follies in review


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         For the second time in two months, separate Night Entertainment Areas have attained the 'critical mass' necessary for self-perpetuation - each having enough Night Entertainment Venues within to become a 'draw' to the night-crawler crowd; large enough to become a 'destination' for the evening's entertainment.   Last month, as reported in MIDNITE HOUR, the Sukhumvit 1 Plaza came of age; - this month it is Sukhumvit Road's Soi 7/1.    (This Soi has long been referred to as Soi Eden by those that slink down to the specialty massage parlor of that same name for their favorite masseuse tag-team.)   This month we scoured our archival records and have compiled a thumbnail of Soi Eden's historical development while on it's way to gaining recognition as one of Bangkok's stand-alone expatriate-oriented Night Entertainment Areas.

         In November of 2003, the MIDNITE HOUR heard rumors that the four sois between Soi 5 and Soi 11 Sukhumvit were experiencing an 'explosion' of Night Entertainment Venues.   So we decided to take the opportunity to do a survey of the area for our December edition.   As it worked out, there were a couple of new venues on each of the sois, but nothing that could be called an 'explosion'.   Click HERE to see our old December 2003 map.

         For those of you who would like to see our NEW 01 May 2005 map of Soi Eden,  Click HERE.

         At that time, we wrote off Soi 7/1 as having too little real estate available for development into a Night Entertainment Area.   There were exactly 5 venues that could qualify as Nightspots, with a reported 6th under construction, and nary a 'For Lease' sign in sight.   As a note for the historical record, the venues open for business there at that time were; the Eden, the Night Flight, the brand new Boo Sa Bar, the Dreams, and Bill Massage.

         Too small to qualify as a stand-alone Night Entertainment Area, we ignored it for almost a full year, but at the end of 2004 we saw a technicolor cascade emanating from within the Soi, not to mention an increase in female door touts at the top of the Soi inundating passers-by with 'happy hour' signs, tugs on the arm and 'handsome-man' calls.   Time for another look - the technicolor explosion was from the new Absolute 7 just inside the Soi -- and, in fact, there were a couple of additional bars at the deep end of the soi.    Soi Eden had popped up on the radar screen in a significant way - would it, could it, in time, attain critical mass, becoming an independent Night Entertainment Area?

          Late in January of this year, we heard rumors to the effect that several of the bars from the closed, or closing Bar Beer Areas in Asoke Plaza and 13 Night Market were interested in moving into Soi 7/1.   The stories were becoming wilder by the day - one version had it that there would be twenty Nitespots open by the end of this April (yesterday).   We duly made it our Rumor Of The Month for February of this year, having serious doubts that available real estate for such a large number of bars could actually be obtained.

         Nevertheless, while the rumor was greatly exaggerated (and therefore false), by the end of February and into March, there were several shops being renovated into new Night Entertainment Venues, and, yes, many of the future bars setting up there were 'refugees' from other bar beer areas - some with their old names, some with brand-new handles.   

         Following is a group of photos taken on Soi Eden a couple of nights ago (in no particular order).   More photos may be seen in MIDNITE HOUR's story on Soi Eden last month  - (*CLICK HERE* <link>.


The Seminal Bars

         For the historical record, the Night Flight and Dreams share the honors as the Seminal Bars for Soi Eden - they were the first two bar beers to make the soi their home, and they set the agenda: - "Inside-Outside Bar Beers", where customers could choose to sit inside or outside in the cool of the evening.   While the Eden massage parlor preceded them (thus the Soi's nickname), it is a one-off venue, and is not representative of the Night Entertainment found on the soi.   Dreams is no longer on the soi, having closed down some months ago.

         Last month's MIDNITE HOUR  'special' on Soi Eden, concluded that it was "an inevitability Soi Eden's becoming a Night Entertainment Area in it's own right ... - it is just a matter of 'when'.   We welcome them, one and all, to the vagaries of Bangkok's somewhat precarious Night Entertainment Scene.

Khlong Toey
Redux II

        This is MIDNITE HOUR's second re-visit to the infamous, and now extinct Klong Toey Night Entertainment Area - and is made possible by the recent contributions of photos by Danish and German seamen who visited Bangkok frequently some thirty and forty years ago (see our credits and links to them below).

         When it was "show time" at the Venus Room, the tiny dance floor was cleared to make way for the evening's special attractions.   Note the 'house band' drum in the background with the partially obscured 'Venus Room' painted on it.   ( But that was the first thing you noticed, right? )   ( All photos taken 1960 - 1970 timeframe. )

         But first, a note to new readers--    Historically, Klong Toey has been the deep water river port since the Capitol was in Ayuthaya.   And as with any international port, waterfront bars and other entertainment venues were an integral part of the commercial mix from the very beginning.   Since the middle of the last century, Klong Toey Night Entertainment Area has been located at Kasemrat Road where it ends at the entrance to the deep water port near the train terminus.   See our 1967 map - click HERE.    Khlong Toey Night Entertainment Area had it's heyday in the 1960's & 1970's, and, regrettably, faded into history in the 1980's, when the Bangkok Port Authority redeveloped much of the area it stood on.   It's notorious reputation rivaled any waterfront area in the world and was an immensely popular venue for visiting seamen and Bangkok's expat residents alike (although, surprisingly, it was almost unknown to the US Armed Forces on R&R here).
When the Venus Room band was 'rocking', the dance floor quickly filled up - girls without partners danced with each other just to maintain the momentum.

         As MIDNITE HOUR is primarily an historical publication, we are continually attempting to expand and update our historical records for this (Khlong Toey) and all of Bangkok's Night Entertainment Areas, and we would like to thank the contributors noted herein for their ongoing generosity.
The Venus Room doorman - a classic shot.   Note the signs in the background - the top one stating the cover charge (we think 20 baht, or one dollar).   Notice that the sign is in Thai, not English - this for the girls, i.e., 'no loitering'.   The lower sign says that only dek (customers) of 18 years of age would be allowed upstairs, and they were expected to dress properly (riep roi).

          For those of you who would like to read the MIDNITE HOUR Thumbnail History of Khlong Toey previously appearing on this site, CLICK HERE to go to our archived Column.
A rare photo indeed.   Note that the signs for the Venus Room and the Mosquito Bar are just barely visible.   Notice the unusual spelling of the 'Mos Qui To'  Bar.

Night time was the right time for upstairs Mosquito Bar action, however during the day it was all happening downstairs - a rocking restaurant bar.    These Scandinavian and German seamen can be seen here blending a particularly potent beverage in what was called "the Maersk Funnel" (for obvious reasons) - the recipe perhaps gratefully lost over the years...

The Sea Man's Mission, or Mariner's Club, in addition to having a long-bar within, had a swimming pool for those that were after a little physical activity of another kind.   They were open during the day and closed in the evenings.

The Contrubutors

         With kindest thanks to Willy Jørgensen at the KOMPAGNIET website ( http://www.snesejler,dk   <link> ) and Soren Tuxen who took many of the photos.   Both gentlemen have been kind enough to forward their photos and stories to us.

An historical note: The above mentioned website is a tribute to the contributors' early sailing days with the EAST ASIATIC COMPANY and a journal of those voyages.   The website was named "Snesejler", which roughly translates as "snow sailor".   In their own words, "There are many explanations, why we were called "snesejler" but here is one of them.   The ships from East Asiatic lines had the services between Europe (Denmark) and the Far East.   People meant that the snow on the deck did not thaw before we were home in Denmark again."
         Special thanks to "Mr. T." from Norway for his recent contribution of "the Maersk Funnel" background info.

? Old

Any old PHOTOS of
Bangkok's Nightlife ?

Please CLICK HERE and send to us for publication.   

Many Thanks,
William R Morledge

Rumor Of The Month
MAY 2005

" Where there's   "

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

       "Closing times for bars in the Cowboy, and Nana, and the Patpongs will return to 02:00 a.m. in June and July.   In that this return to old closing times will not immediately become official, Bangkok's Finest will be collecting bribes nightly at 01:00, or monthly from bars wanting to participate."

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.

Due to the March 2005 Rumor having come true, as of 01 APRIL 2005, the Rumor Accuracy Quotient is now at -
   Note: This variance from "0%" is due to ONE and only ONE rumor to ever have come true.

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, 2005 :

            Well, Patpong I did a little sprucing up this last April, but hardly the "massive renovations" that last month's Rumor Of The Month bravely touted - hardly "ridding the street of most or all street vendors".   Instead, the vendors are now confined to two rows running down the middle of the street (stalls on each side of each row).   The only benefit is that it has freed the sidewalks and curbs up for those who go to enjoy the nightlife - better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but would really like to see a "Zone" walking street like Pattaya's.
The rude vendors are on two rows on the left (in the middle of the street), and the sidewalks (on the right) are now are free for visitors to the Night Entertainment Venues.

Door Art Of The Month

         MIDNITE HOUR's Door Art Of The Month goes out, this time slightly tongue-in-cheek, to Radio City on Patpong I for their slightly grotesque, larger-than-life plaster Elvis.   At least their heart was in the right place.

            Back full-tilt is the IT Room, above the Bua Luang Target.   Better (2 weeks) late than never.   Their new sprucing-up looks good - and the rock still rocks and the roll still rolls.   Welcome back to the salt mines.

Hell's Angel

      In the "It Was Bound To Happen" Category: -       OK, OK, a Segway is not exactly a Harley, but we feel she still should qualify as a 'biker chick'.   We spotted her terrorizing the streets between Patpong 1 and Soi Katoey last weekend.PATPONG I I
         PATPONG I I

            The Metropolis' Sign Gestapos have been active once again - this time at the La Pink Panthera.   This is the fourth such 'name-game' crackdown on what was once the Pink Panther.   You see, the upstairs bar had a sign which read "La Pink Panthera' during the daytime, but the (internally lit) sign had certain letters blocked off from the inside of the sign, so that at night when the light was switched on it read, "Pink Panther'.   Well the Sign Gestapos may lead a frivolous grub-like existence, but they aren't stupid - so it was just a matter of time before they smacked them down again.   Look for a sign which now reads, Pink Pant.   Shake it, don't break it, guys, you know how nit-pickers get when they work themselves up into a self-righteous frenzy...   

            Swing Club on The Ramp has closed down for a month "for renovations".   They have signs posted in Thai and in English that they will be open for business on 27 May.   Exactly on the 27th of May?   Not the 26th or the 28th?   Ahennnh.

            The Horse Shoes Pool Table Bar located on The Island has been gobbled up by it's next-door neighbor, the Chicken Divine, resulting in what may be the longest bar beer in Bangkok.   The sideshow continues - without having missed a beat.

...just not these times

      Hidden in a stairwell somewhere on Patpong II is this aging sign advertising the "best sex live show for only 90 baht".   Perhaps they are waiting for the return of the "good old days"?   PATPONG I I

            The big news (that surprised nobody) is that Boss Hogg's did the big lock-down.   Except for opening night on New Year's Eve, where they all came for the free food, the place rarely had more than four or five people in it.   The bar was well thought out, with the exception of how they intended to get people to go to it (being a little off the beaten path on the 2nd floor).   Something a future owner should think about, now that 'the Boss' is bowing out.   But something has to be done - that location has never been a great hit with the night crawler set; even the original Vixen's, which had the longest run (Sept 96 until June 2001) never really packed them in like the other 2nd floor venues.

            The other news at NEP that is not news, is that the Rainbow 4 (or whatever it will eventually be called) did not finish construction in time to open at the beginning of this month, as was being bandied about.   But they gave it the old college try - I can't remember seeing a bar of that size go up so quickly.   The banner says it will be on 6th of May but if not, then surely not much longer than that.   NANAPLAZA

            The Five Star II did close in April, as it certainly had to when construction crews broke down the wall from the New Crazy Cats side, and consumed them to make way for the new two-shophouse bar.   But what would the new two-shophouse bar be called?   The Spice Girls website <link> was touting it as the 'Deja Vu' for the last couple of months, but their bartop ads were carrying it as the 'Naughty Girls' (which we quoted last month).   Well, all remaining question was removed the other week when the large new Deja Vu neon was installed above both bars.   Look for them to open on 6 May, all going according to plan.
         A sneak preview of their new marquee.   Note that the New Crazy Cat and Five Star II still appear on the sign - a clear indication that the name "Deja Vu" is not yet the official name.   Curiously, it will be one of the few bars to be operating with TWO A-Go-Go licenses.

            Inside Soi 1, just beside the Pan Pan Italian Restaurant, and all the way to the back is the brand-new Pia Beauty Spa.   It sounds like it might be a place for the ladies, but it is not - it is a full-service massage parlor, run by the attractive Miss Pia.   The second floor is still 'under renovation', but they are now open for business.   'Location' remains a problem for them - it remains to be seen whether Fate's tumbling dice will bring them sevens or nines...

            The old 33 Barber / Massage / Drink, located just past Demonia, has some brand-new neon nailed up - they want, now, to be known as 33 Barber Sauna Oil Massage.   OK with us...   All else status quo ante - let the good times roll.

            The Shinse Kai Japanese Club Karaoke has vanished in a most inscrutable way, and their turtle, appearing just days ago, is called the Hole In 1 Club Japanese Club - with shiny-new neon to prove it.   Orientation: Oriental - as if we had to say it....   Welcome to the nightscene.

            My Typewriter Made Me Do It Department - since before it opened, we have been touting it as Xantrix.   Their signs written in cursive, and italicized, do appear to be spelled that way, however this month they had an additional promotional sign up and we noted that the actual spelling was Xcentrix.   We've made an appointment with our optometrist, thanks...

            Historians note: the Hip has new neon which reads Hip Bar.   The "Bar" can be seen with the aid of a good magnifying glass, but it is nevertheless the name they have chosen show to the world.   Let the good times roll.

            The Starlight Club, open since August of 2002, has twinkled it last...   They have turned the reins (and the lock and stock and barrels) over to Flaming Moe's (as in Moe from Moe's Tavern in the Simpsons,), and he has wasted no time in nailing up some very prominent neon.   Let's wish him all aces and faces.

            Likewise, the Take Care, there since the Queen's Park Plaza went 'critical' in March 2002, has found a way out from under it all - they have sold out to the sparkling new The Captain's Inn, who when we passed by the other night, had more than a few customers.   Welcome them to the wolfpack.

            On The Rocks is, well, on the rocks.   Only abiding darkness shines out from within.   Rattan furniture sans cushions stacked high in front of the venue - for whatever reason.   We hope they find things a little more to their liking a little further on down the road a piece.

            When the seminal No ! Bra bar beer (facing onto the sidewalk) sold out, the new owners kept the name.   But when the original No ! Bra moved all the way to the back into the old Buddy Bar digs in October of 2004, they decided to keep their name - leaving Queen's Park. Plaza with two No ! Bra bars.   Now in an effort to differentiate, the original has added the word 'Bar" becoming finally (we hope) the No ! Bra Bar.   Keep on a-slippin' and a-slidin'.   QUEEN'SPARKPLAZA

             Historians note: - The Prince Of Wales P & G has dropped said "P & G" from their marquee, becoming, of course, just the The Prince Of Wales.   Those of you who knew what the "P & G" meant, well, knew what it meant - just as well rid of it.   All else rocks along as per usual.

            Gone, but not gone, the Mae Mai Karaoke has stuffed it's last chit in it's last cup, just the same -- they have decided to concentrate on their conjoined Mae Mai Kitchen, which will be moving upstairs just about ..... now!   In it's place will be the Hello Bar - their neon shingle already tacked up above the door.   The light, however, will get switched on in about three or four more days, all things being equal.   SUKHUMVIT1PLAZA

            Up one level, a new bar beer is nearing completion - which will bring the total number of bar beers on the 2nd floor to five.   The construction foreman said the new name would be the 2 D Bar, (or did he mean the D.D. Bar, after the D.D. Internet located nearby on the same floor?)   They will also open in about three or four more days - barring hiccups.   SUKHUMVIT1PLAZA

         "Maybe on Moonlight Mile..."

            Khun A. opened her first Chemo bar beer in Sukhumvit Square in February of 2002 - helping to usher in the then-new Night Entertainment Area (-one of eight bars which brought "critical mass" to Sukhumvit Square).   She followed shortly thereafter with Chemo 02 inside Sukhumvit Square, and Chemo O3, just outside in Soi 10.   When Chuwit's Marauders flattened Sukhumvit Square in January of 2003, she lost both Chemo's inside.   The Chemo 03 outside soon went out of business as a result of the Sukhumvit Square incident.
            Khun A. was quick to remobilize and was one of the first to open in 13 Night Market across the street in May of 2003 - quite a remarkable bit of entrepreneurial energy, considering she was not reimbursed by Chuwit or any of his Mafia shadow companies for her losses in the now-destroyed Sukhumvit Square.   This bar, her fourth, was of course, the Chemo 04.
            Last year, when the handwriting was on the wall that 13 Night Market was to close in the near future, Khun A. pioneered the migration to Sukhumvit 1 Plaza, being the first to obtain a long-term lease there.   When the Sukhumvit 1 Plaza opened in November of last year, her Chemo 01 had already had it's soft opening two weeks prior.
            Two months ago, when 13 Night Market closed down, and she was in the process of closing out the Chemo 04 and moving some of the things to the new Chemo 01, three of her girls (hostesses) were killed in an auto accident while going upcountry to vote.   This caused her to temporarily close the new Chemo 01, until the accident details had been seen to, and until she could get some more trusted staff (as she was running both the 01 and 04 simultaneously for that short while).   She reopened Chemo 01 on the first of March, and it looked for all the world like things were back on track once again.
            But sometime in April, ever so quietly, she came in to her Chemo 01 and took her bar stock, refrigerators and other moveable property and just as quietly departed.   No explanation.   Later, a close friend of hers (also a bar owner, also relocated from 13 Night Market) confided to me that she had heard through the bamboo telegraph that Khun A. might now be running a small sidewalk bar near Soi 11 on the 'Moonlight Mile' -(* that stretch of sidewalk running from Soi 5 to Soi 15 which fills up with push-cart sidewalk bars, curbside noodle carts and assorted folding tables and chairs after midnite - often staying open all night).   
            The people that knew her expressed surprise and sadness at her sudden and unexplained departure.   She wasn't in debt (that anyone knows), she had several years left on her lease, and walking away from the four million baht key money didn't, it seems, bother her in the least.   We walked the Moonlight Mile last night into the wee hours, and saw no trace of her.   
            Some of you may have observed that the Chemo 01 is still open, and that is an accurate observation - at least as far as the sign goes.   The Chemo 01 will be changing names (and signs) sometime this month - they have been taken over by DC-10 A-Go-Go bar from Nana Plaza, and those new folk are trying to decide if they should call it "DC-10 Bar Beer" or look for another name...

            The Grim Reaper has drawn the shroud over Bart's Bar at the back of Tobacco Road.   Bart's Bar opened in April of 1997, and being Tobacco Road's first air conditioned bar, it seemed (wishful thinking?) to herald the turning point for the Soi - it looked as though it was finally "going uptown".   None of that eventuated; the number of bars on Tobacco Road leveled out, and finally started to drop off.   The last six months has seen this once wild soi just barely hang onto it's critical mass, and with the closure of Bart's Bar, the last third of the Night Entertainment Area now lays dormant - and dirty.   We wish Bart's greener pastures...on the bright side, pretty much anything would be greener than that which they just left.

             The Maxim's bar beer at the very far end of the Soi have put out the party balloons and unlocked the liquor cabinet with a vengeance.   The Maxim's Inn, seeing the nightlife explosion in their midst have decided to cash in on it - and who can blame them?   Let the nightgames begin.

            The Tequila Dragon will open (for sure this time) on 10 May (softly), and will have a more formal (read: raucous) affair on the 15th of May.   The "Dragon" comes from the Red Dragon (formerly of 13 Night Market, and now at the Rajah Hotel compound).   The "Tequila" comes from the recently closed bar of that name on Soi 4.   The two gentlemen decided to make good on a very old pact, and open a bar together.   It is a double-shophouse, three-storey affair, and looks good to go.   We'll get back to you in the next issue.


            As an historical note for the record only, the last bar at Easy Square, the Hang Out, is hanging in there.   Having been directed to close at the end of last month, they said they "would gladly close, just return the money we paid you for our VERY LEGAL contract with you, and we will leave."   They are still there; the last soldier standing, and they still don't have their money.   But even they say they will likely be leaving next month.   Keep on keeping on, girls.

            The venerable Thermae Coffee Shop has made yet another unholy pact with the local Devils in Too-Tight Uniforms and is staying open until 02:00 a.m. each morning.   The quality of life there seems to have improved, if ever so marginally.

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                   William R. Morledge
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