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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review

Soi 19 in focus


01 November 2005
William R. Morledge
Coyote Dancing - Oh, ya !
Tsunami Backwash -How Bizzarre
The  GRAFFITI  Page - New !
Rumor Of The Month
NOVEMBER's Follies in review



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PLEASE CONTACT K. M   Phone 01 908 3889

Manuel was last seen in the vicinity of Soi 23.   Anyone knowing his whereabouts please call the telephone number above, or contact the GLOW - as shown on the map.

....continued....   Return to our feature story,

'Soi 19 in focus'

         There was a time when you said 'Soi 19', you meant the Honey Hotel.   They were synonymous.    In the late '60's and early '70's the Honey Hotel was the only thing on that soi to attract the expats.   The "The Honey" is one of the few remaining mollusks on the Bangkok 'scene'.
         The 'The Honey's' relative longevity aside, it is one of those structures that seems never to age.   Granted, it doesn't look new, but then, it doesn't appear to get any older, either.   Never 'up-market' it was, and is, one of the several small 'off-Broadway' curtained, or partially curtained hotels that mushroomed up during that era, and has always attracted both the budget traveller and the short-timer.
         But in spite of The Honey's reluctance to change, the soi in which it hides has harbored no such intentions.   By the mid-seventies, Soi 19 saw the first inkling of what was to be - at the top of the soi, also facing Sukhumvit Road, the Cock 'N Bull Restaurant and the upstairs Joker Club opened.   Both were instant successes in spite of their then-remote location.   The Cock & Bull was well known for more than one reason - first, it was one of the popular budget restaurants that had nightly 'videos', where diners could come and watch a free-of-charge movie while they dined.   (Admittedly, some of the movies -like "Dirty Little Billy"- were fit only for the incinerator, but most were fairly recent, and fairly watchable.)   Another reason for the Cock 'N Bull's popularity was the lemon meringue pie.   Now, we're not talking about your light-weight imitation Chinese pastry so 'popular' in that era - we are talking real lemon meringue pie - pie like you still can't find in Bangkok, even today.    -And if you weren't there in time for the early video, fergeddaboudit - the pie was gone.   The Cock 'N Bull was a favorite of the very budget-minded Bernard Trink, who would eat there with his lovely wife: he would come in, sit down, unbuckle his pants and unzip his trousers so he would be able to eat more - the food was that good.   (Now, if this isn't the stuff of legend, what is?)
         But upstairs was another story - the Joker Club was one of Bangkok's proto-A-Go-Go's.   The dancers danced only some of the time, some in bikinis, some in jeans, sometimes they were the waitresses - jumping up for an impromptu ramwong to a rock 'n roll beat.   The 'dance floor' was a raised musicians' stage - pre-chrome pole - by about a decade.   And the Joker Club produced:- home to the three Sukhumvit Sisters, who were well-known not only for their Joker Club antics, but their late-night appearances at the old Thermae.   And let's not forget the Lao Princess.   (Come to think of it, there were a lot of self-proclaimed Lao Princesses in those days; we wonder what happened to them all??   Might have been 'Skylab'...)
         But what occurred next is what might be described as Soi 19's historical nadir.   The Cock 'N Bull and the Joker Club were torn down.   And these two legendary Nitespots were replaced with the abomination-of-abominations - a McDonalds !   Oh, how we wish we were making all this up...   This gastronomical outrage had many farang residents railing, spewing flecks of foam down their shirt-fronts.   Things couldn't have been less auspicious for Soi 19 - or we pie-eaters.   It can be said, fairly, that time does not heal all wounds.
         Nevertheless, time, being time, marched on, and Soi 19 Sukhumvit has, in the course of the last three years, become a very friendly place, indeed - provided you know where to look.   It is not a particularly glitzy soi - the only outward sign of Nightlife is the Country Road (and it's upstairs After Work) at the corner of Sukhumvit Road.   Much of the entertainment is found deeper in the soi and tucked into small side-sois.   The map below will give you a better idea of what we mean.
         Over these last three years, most of the Nitespots to pop up on Soi 19 have been massage parlors and 'spas' of varying degrees of ambiguosity.   But not all - there has also been an influx of Japanese-oriented Nite Venues in the small soi that connects Soi 19 with Soi 17 (A connecting soi?   Who knew?).   There is even an up-market Korean restaurant and an excellent Swiss grotto on this connecting soi.   All things be known, the MIDNITE HOUR had it's eyeball peeled for signs of a hidden, fully independent (having reached critical mass) bar scene in this cross-soi - but it was not to be - at least not yet.
         This small cross-soi, still unnamed, is physically like a smaller version of Soi Cowboy, and has the real estate to potentially be a Night Entertainment Area in it's own right.   But in fact, it is about ten or twelve Nite Venues short of being a stand-alone.   In that it looks like the area has a long way to go before becoming an independent Night Entertainment Center, we here at MIDNITE HOUR will just have to be content to sit back and watch this blossoming 'Baby Huey" continue to grow...and grow...

Shaken AND Stirred

         ...But the most interesting bar we visited on Soi 19 didn't even have a name - this red minibus is found -at least most nights- parked down about mid-soi - CCR blasting from some hidden car stereo.   It seemed to be well stocked, but as the bottles are put away each evening and driven to who-knows-where, they were all a little scuffed up.   Needless to say, we stopped for a soda, just to say we had been there.


The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page

         September was our 'kick-off' column on Bangkok's graffiti, so if you missed it, just click here. <link> and see what you missed.   That issue also had a thumbnail history of graffiti which might interest you.

         Let's continue on with our third monthly installment then....

Graffiti #015
6 ft. high x 16 ft.

Graffiti #016
Satan Corner
8 ft. high x 9 ft.

Graffiti #017
Smoki Smoki
6 ft. high x 14 ft.

Graffiti #018
8 ft. high x 12 ft.

Graffiti #019
Mobetta Dee
5 ft. high x 5 ft.

Graffiti #020
Spider Man & Wonder Woman
5 ft. high x 11 ft.

Graffiti #021
Manchu Vu Beats
6 ft. high x 16 ft.

This is not a graffiti per-se, although there are those who say....   The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman.   ;

? Old

Any old PHOTOS of
Bangkok's Nightlife ?

Please CLICK HERE and send to us for publication.   

Many Thanks,
William R Morledge

(MIDNITE HOUR will not have a Rumor Of The Month for the month of NOVEMBER 2005.         -Ed.)

NOVEMBER'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 NOVEMBER, 2005 :

           The "Why Would They Bother?" Department; the Camelot Castle has been just that: Camelot Castle since they bought out the old Butterfly Bar videotheque A-Go-Go in January of '95 and opened their doors that February.   Now, all of a sudden, they would like it -thank you very much- if you would call them King Camelot.   Whatever makes them feel warm and fuzzy....   Like we said, why would they bother?          PATPONG I

            The King's Lounge (on Soi Bookstore) re-re-opened in March this year, and we were wondering how long it would be before they started pushing the "Disco" thing again.   Well, in August, they changed the sign and had an "everybody welcome" night - once again a "Disco".   Apropos earlier comments on Bangkok's Sign Gestapos , it looks as though the King's Lounge "Disco" was paid another visit.   The bureaucratic gremlins have made up their collective micro-mind - they do not want to see the word, "Disco" anywhere at all.   (And we thank them for sparing us the moral indignity of having to see that repulsive word appear in public.)   We passed by the other night to see their umpteenth brand-new signage.
         PATPONG I

             Mike's Place (Spanky's), located, deeply, beside Foodland, has reopened, but a peek inside would have you shaking your head.   It looks like Hurricane Andrew had been through and back again.   Might it be they are concentrating on their Spanky's pool bar out on Patpong II's thoroughfare?   Keep on keeping on. PATPONG I I

            The bar beer just out in front of Bar & Pub The Pink (Pink Panther) that we reported closed in August has reopened.   They have done a good job on the renovations - a first-class interior.   But the newly renovated bar beer makes no bones about it - they are the "Pink Panther Bar" and they don't care if it hare-lips the Pope.   With all the recent cracking down by Bangkok's Sign Gestapos, let's see just how long this rather hard-to-miss bit of neon lasts...   (We note that they have been pounced upon by the authorities several times before for use of this particular copyrighted name.)   


            And while we are on the subject of Bangkok's Sign Gestapos, the Coyoty Spicy Girls, which opened their newly renovated doors in August, are now, and once again, displaying their old name, Tik Ko (but defiantly keeping the new Coyoty neon up as well.)   We like their illegitimi non carborundum attitude - keep it up, ladies.    PATPONG I I

            Roadhouse bar beer renovated and reopened in August - sans neon.   To date, they have yet to come up with any signage whatsoever, but like their sister bar Alibi, just next door, this hasn't seemed to slow them down any.   Keep on rockin'. NANA PLAZA

            Obsession A-Go-Go is down for the count - this is no ordinary "closed for renovations", as we were told by the owner.   It has been closed since July - somewhere, there is a dirty little secret - and if you know, please don't tell us.   We note their outside bar beer is as busy as ever, however. NANA PLAZA

            Pop quiz: When is the Five Star 2 not the Five Star 2 ?   Answer : "When it is closed yet again by the Men In Too-Tight Uniforms on yet another trumped-up infringement."   We received notification from the Five Star 2 (Deja Vu) management which read, in part: -
          "Thanks for your words last few months.   I would like to be the first to tell you that DeJa Vu will be closed again for 30 days starting today (October 20).   The reason we have been closed this time is unbelievable.   As you know the DeJa Vu was two bars ; Crazy Cat and Five Star 2.   We broke the wall to make it one bar.   They said we did not inform the authorities, even though they were all aware that we could not make a double-wide bar without breaking the wall.   Anyhow the bar is being punished for breaking the wall.   Can you believe it?
         Hopefully by the time we open on November 19th, the name will be officially changed to DeJa Vu - after of 6 months' work and hundreds of pages of documents. "
         "Can we believe it?" - oh, ya.   Lest we forget - if the tiny minds in high places want you, they will find a way to get you.   Let's hope that this will be the last of the Deja Vu's torments at the arbitrary hands of our mostly-bent Men In Tan...


Bearer of Bad News

         A three-year-old elephant, whose name I just forget at the moment, had "Missing" posters pasted on his saddle-bags as he and his mahout and handlers went panhandling down the Soi the other night.   The missing bar owner (the Glow) disappeared mysteriously almost a week ago, while, or shortly after returning home from visiting colleagues on Soi Cowboy.   His passport, money and wallet all still at home - so it is not likely he did a runner.

            The Richmond opened it's doors in December of 2000, amid one of Soi Dead Artists' mini building booms.   They appeared to be holding their own against the competition, so we were a little surprised when we passed by mid-month and not only had they failed to make roll call that night, there were strangers in there making modifications to this and that...   Greener pastures, guys.       SOIDEADARTISTS

            ...But as soon as the sawdust cleared from what was the Richmond, we saw that new tenants were already ensconced and leaning forward in their foxholes, waiting to roll out the red carpet for what would be Bangkok's newest Irish pub.   When we passed by last night, the Shamrock Irish Club had already hit the ground running.   May there be a four-leafed shamrock, or two, there amongst them...

            We must admit the Casablanka (sic) had a bevy of beauties out on the front steps the other night.   Our night vision lense caught them out - waiting to entice the (mostly Japanese) custom into having a drink or two.

            The Karaoke Sakura 33, which recently (February) opened just above the Oliver reed's Club (R Club) has given up the dream.   They have been absorbed by the downstairs R Club - from which they originally spawned. -Ashes to ashes - so be it, then....       SOIDEADARTISTS

            The My Typewriter Made Me Do It Dept. Part I.   Last month, I made a meticulous note to myself so I wouldn't forget to inform one and all that the Arsom Sabai Massage on Sub-soi 5 had gone walkabout.   I then meticulously forgot to put it in last month's column.   In that I don't make mistakes, this is largely the maid's fault....    SOIDEADARTISTS

            Last month, we noted that the Roxy Bar & Club had some brand new neon - not to replace the old, but in addition to the old.    Inasmuch as we promised to get back to you, we hear -from the horses mouth- that this is the name of the in-house dance troupe.   We also note that they have gone back to mostly all cushions on the outside wooden sidewalk - and the place looked full once again last week.   Like they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.   For those wondering... the clientele, like the waiters, are mostly gay, but hetero couples and straights seem to enjoy the outside cushions while they sip their drinks and watch the passing parade.   Let it rip...

            The Hip Bar has pulled up stakes, pulled down neon, and pulled out.   The doorway that once led to their upstairs premises has been closed down and neighboring venues have put their paraphernalia and whiskey signs up in what once was the Hip Bar's sidewalk area.   Like it was never even there....   SOIKATOEY

            The "My Typewriter Made Me Do It - Part II" Dept.   Last month we dug up a file photo of Orchid Massage with a mind to publish it - along with a note that it had gone the way of the dodo.   Well, somehow demons invaded my computer and erased it - at almost the exact same time my dog ate my homework, so we will publish it this month, instead.   The good news is that Orchid Massage has popped up out of their crypt and have continued to march without missing a beat.   

            The Balcony have made it at least semi-official - they have installed permanent signs across the street in the area they have been using for some time as expanded bar beer space (in front of the old Rome Club).   Or should we call them "Balcony The" ?   -Have you noticed the artsy phartsy way they write the name on their neon?

Door Art Of The Month

The MIDNITE HOUR nod for best Door Art Of The Month goes to Popeye 2 in Queen's Park Plaza.   Their sign, cartoonish and colorful, combines America's spinach icon with the Union Jack in a manner hard to miss, even by the casual passing foot traffic.


            As we stood and watched, The Captain's Inn reeled in the red carpet and threw the upturned chrome barstools onto the bar.   -And it wasn't even midnight.   Next, a quick lockdown, and they vanished into the night.   Was it something we said?   Should we change our mouthwash?   We'll put a marker down on this one and check back - surely they weren't closing closing, like, doing the chicken?   QUEEN'SPARKPLAZA

            OK, you wannabe Asia Hands, if you're really as worldly as you're putting on, tell me what "Coyote Dancing" is...   You don't know, do you, you raggedy bunch of left-footed Bangkok hillbillies?   Suffice it to say, we had no idea what it meant, either.   The newly opened First Avenue (in the old Chemo 01 digs) now has Coyote Dancing.   The best way to describe it is: - Coyote Dancing is to A-Go-Go as soft porn is to porn.   This may not interest us hard-cores, but the intended market will be tour groups, mostly Asian, who will be brought in by the busload - should all go to plan.   And if all does go to plan, it could be good for the rest of the Plaza as well, which according to all accounts, is still a little slow.   We wish First Avenue all aces and faces as they cast their lot with the rest...
(Footnote: Coyote Dancing, as defined in Las Vegas and elsewhere, is an evolving style of catwalk dancing that is a hybrid between 'disco' and 'A-Go-Go', --and is usually quite a bit more vigorous than some of the up-country shuffling we have become used to...   It often involves customer participation --   (Kee-rist on a crutch, let's hope that part of it never catches on here in Sin City...)

             Everyone on the Soi seems to be getting into the act - the massage act, that is.   Now the Blue Star offers strong hands, lots of aromatic oil - and perhaps even suds.   Keep on a-slippin' and a-slidin'.

             The newly expanded World Kitchen -an adjunct to the World Hotel- is an indoor-outdoor cafe cum bar beer.   The bar beer part kicks into high gear after the main restaurant shuts down.   The sole waiter and waitress beckoning customers over to have a drink have an uphill run ahead of them, however, as virtually the only people doing business on the Soi -as bars- have hostesses.   Perhaps the World Kitchen should have first observed the underwhelming amount of business the Maxim Bar Beer isn't doing...   Nevertheless, we wish them luck as they lurch into the Nightlife maelstrom.   SOIEDEN

            In case you've missed it, this is the restaurant that has been at the center of all the notoriety.   The Tsu Nami Japanese Restaurant has been alternately cast as "in bad taste", "sick" and "committing entrepreneurial opportunism".   A little harsh, don't you think?   Restauranteurs aren't out to capitalize on the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, only journalists stoop to that sort of thing....
Making Waves

         The Tsu Nami is located in the Mariott Hotel at the top of Soi 2 Sukhumvit Road.


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