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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review


Bangkok's Nightscene Websites
FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY



Bangkok,
01 February 2007
William R. Morledge
 
Black Anniversary - Soi 10 !
Long Barfines - Q & A
A Thai Smile......

February's Nightlife Newsfront
Graffiti  -Bangkok's Art Vandals #18
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         In the beginning....there was only the Night Owl, Bernard Trink, who by his own account, began his newspaper Nightscene column in 1966.   It was perhaps only coincidence that Bangkok's Nightlife websites started popping up as the Night Owl started fading - from lack of support from the very newspaper that hired him.   (But cause-and-effect aside, pop up they did.)   After an unprecedented, and probably never-to-be-equaled run of nearly 39 years, Trink was put out to pasture, at least as far as coverage of Bangkok's Nightlife was concerned (see our Feb 2004 story here <link> ).

...all of Bangkok's Nightscene websites owe a greater or lesser debt of gratitude to the Night Owl.

         At first Bangkok's Nightscene websites were little more than Forums and web boards, but eventually they were becoming more and more dedicated - dedicated to an all-around coverage of the Night Entertainment Scene.   (We won't go into an history of Bangkok's websites by name, as it is not relevant at this juncture.   Suffice it to say, however, that all of Bangkok's Nightscene websites owe a greater or lesser debt of gratitude to the Night Owl.)

         The Internet, born of this generation, is often referred to as the Virtual Revolutionary Front.   It has allowed a billion people to express themselves and to access, almost without restriction, without censorship, anything their variegated hearts desire.   However, it was soon realized that too much freedom of expression was not necessarily a good thing.   The rise of pornography within the reach of young children, pedophilic websites -and the like- started a backlash of censorship to restrict or ban such fringe-type 'personal expression'.

         And while virtually all countries now have some restrictions on Internet access, it almost goes without saying that there are certain nations that have gone overboard in the restricting of personal expression, such as China, Vietnam, Thailand and most of the Middle Eastern countries.   Nevertheless, by and large, there has been an explosion of expression, an explosion of access, never before realized on this planet.   And as a result - and as might be expected- the Internet has seen the gamut of the intellectual spectrum, the gamut of political views, the gamut of useful and useless information, the gamut of genius and stupidity.

But this is what (the Internet) is all about : up to and including all the genius and all the stupidity.

         But this is what it's all about : up to and including all the genius and all the stupidity.   We as website users have an exponentially greater ability to access the growing spectrum of "the world out there".   We have that right.   And we also have a responsibility - to ourselves - to be critical, judgmental and selective of what we view.   In other words, if we don't like it, we can surf elsewhere.   The 'freedom to' and the 'freedom from' is right there in our mouse finger.

...you would likely not believe the absolutely ridiculous ... demands the Luddites out there insist you and your website adopt.

         This is not the first shock wave of the Information Revolution, but it is unquestionably the greatest.   And concomitant with the exponential catapulting of 'access' is the exponential expansion of 'freedom of expression' - in spite of the above mentioned backlash.   And yet, in this Global Village of which we are all an inextricable part, there are still many who haven't stepped aboard the train - many who just don't get it - many who, for whatever reason, are destined to perpetually tilt the windmill of progress.   If you are not a Nightlife website creator you would likely not believe the absolutely ridiculous and sometimes humorous demands the Luddites out there insist you and your website adopt.

         And, as Bangkok is perhaps the center of Night Entertainment activity in the world today, Bangkok's websites remain a prime target for these haranguing Luddite guardians of respectability.   To say the same thing another way, the world's e-whingers consider Bangkok websites to be their own personal doormat.   And while they are welcome to their opinions, these myopic and tunnel-visioned views of the outside world are contra to the entire movement towards greater freedom of access and greater freedom of expression.

They (websites) are not the Bangkok Post... they do not have to remain "politically correct."

         Having communicated with a good number of other Bangkok Nightlife websites, we are more than ever convinced it needs be said (in fact it is way overdue) - Bangkok Nightlife websites are not the Bangkok Post, they are not Public Radio, they are not The Nation newspaper.   They do not have to maintain a "family newspaper" look and feel, they do not have to remain "politically correct" and they do not exist to please everyone, or even a greater percentage of everyone.   We won't attempt to speak in detail about other Bangkok Nightlife websites, but we can say that this is particularly true for Bangkok Eyes.   If the pockets of self-anointed lifestyle priests out there feel the need to vent their negative thoughts and feel the need to force their twisted and myopic agenda upon us, we hope it gives them immense release, however they should understand that they will be ignored by us, just as time itself continues to pass them by.   (A caveat to this : occasionally a real wingnut will write in, and in such a case, we reserve the right to post that missive on our website and to exploit it's humor content in any way we see fit.)



RECENT HISTORY
Black Anniversary
SUKHUMVIT SQUARE OUTRAGE
REMEMBERED

         A few days ago we saw the passing of the fourth anniversary of Bangkok Night Entertainment's blackest day.   In a surprise predawn raid on 26 January 2003, approximately 400 men in "military style" uniforms conducted a coordinated swoop on the Sukhumvit Square entertainment complex located on Soi 10 Sukhumvit Road.   Truckloads of men and heavy construction equipment were off-loaded shortly after 04:00 hours.   They immediately cleared the Night Entertainment Area and adjacent public sidewalks of hired security and other personnel before commencing with the premeditated and willful destruction and /or removal of all structures, properties and personal effects within.
The above photo taken from an apartment building behind Sukhumvit Square, looking toward Sukhumvit Road with the Sky Train in the background, and Soi 10 at the right.   A large part of a city block was completely devastated in the dead of night by known 'Mafia elements.

         It was never any secret : Khun Chuwit Kamolwisit, the owner of the land on which Sukhumvit Square Night Entertainment Area was built, contrived through his Mafia connections and shadow companies (Nickel, Sukhumvit Stars) to send in marauding paramilitary types to destroy every structure on the compound (approx. 150 tourist-oriented businesses).   Sixty of these structures were Pool Bars, A-Go-Go Bars, bar beers, lounges and specialty bars that comprised the Night Entertainment Area.

         This lightning strike, abetted by traffic police units, commenced at 4:00 a.m. and was completed before dawn.   A major ancillary component of the blitzkrieg operation was the convoy of heavy construction equipment, materials, welding sets, generators and lighting tower sets as well as hundreds of massive concrete and steel sections of 'gulag wall', which were escorted through the streets of Bangkok while other National Police units looked the other way.   Immediately subsequent to that, half of Sukhumvit Road was cordoned off of for three hours by yet another group of Police, while the destruction was in progress.

      Blitzkrieg mastermind Chuwit in less happier circumstances - in the hospital after being kidnapped by Bangkok's Finest for three days, then unceremoniously thrown out onto a deserted stretch of highway.....but that's another story....

         The public were outraged, and the Press kept the story on the front page for weeks.   The world-wide coverage gave Thailand a black eye vis-a-vis international investment and tourism : many potential tourists becoming apprehensive about travel to this 'lawless Thailand'.    It had once again become painfully clear that the Rule Of Man had trumped Rule of Law, and that money, influence, patronage and corruption were the real motive forces in the land.   "Rule-Of-Law" was but a proper-looking facade for the outside world to see if they cared to look deeper, to look behind the tourism and the smiles.

This photo of the Sukhumvit Square destruction was taken the following morning looking down from the Sky Train

         The then Prime Minister Thaksin swore justice would be served; that no Mafia would operate on his watch, and that heads would roll.   It was his first major political blunder - even he, an ex-Cop was unable to penetrate the closed societies of Thailand's Institutional Mafias.   And although never spoken aloud, we knew at that juncture that Thaksin was no more than just one more in a long string of manipulative power brokers to sit in that particular chair.

*Click Here* to see the only surviving map of Sukhumvit Square Night Entertainment Area.
   (Courtesy Zootramp Publications)

         Out of embarrassment, more than anything else, the Government felt compelled to conduct a show trial, and a little more than two years later, the courts found Chuwit, his puppet companies and key military figures to be innocent due to lack of evidence.   ("Lack of evidence" is, in the vernacular : "wealthy and influential intervention".)   The more than one hundred shop owners were never compensated for their losses (although at one stage, one of Chuwit's puppet companies offered them from between 5 cents to 10 cents on the dollar, most of the owners felt this only added insult to injury, and told them where they could stick it).

This is an old Google satellite photo of Sukhumvit Square taken only months before demolition by Mafia forces.   Text and white outline added by Midnite Hour.

         The Sukhumvit Square Incident is but one of many travesties and miscarriages of justice, many of which have befallen Farang businessmen over the decades.   Nevertheless, for the most part it has, in these last four years already faded from the collective conscience.   Rest assured, however, that there are those who remember....   And maybe if enough people remember, and enough people are willing to speak out, and if enough people make up their minds to do something about it, and if...




            
 Historical Minutiae Dept.

 ASK US (ALMOST ANYTHING 


Wife Quest
The Q & A

PB:      Looking for a wife, can you help?

MH:         No.

Long Barfines
The Q & A

RS:      I will be visiting Bangkok for first time next month.   My question is to whether it is acceptable to barfine a girl longtime from an A Go-Go bar if you're basically just looking for a dance partner to take to a club?   I enjoy dancing but being that I'll be a lone traveler, I think that I'd feel awkward heading into a club on my own.   I don't know if it makes any difference, but I am 27 years old and considered by many to be attractive.   Any suggestions?   Thanks!

MH:         Yes, it is acceptable to barfine a girl for any length of time (any number of days).   As you will be here for a couple of weeks, don't rush it.   Talk a few of them up - there are many attractive girls with original personalities and you will soon find one where the "chemistry" is right.   Make sure she understands how long she will be barfined for, and that she agrees beforehand (she needs to agree, not the mamasan, as she is free to go, or not to go, with whomever.)

         If you are just going dancing, let her know beforehand, or if you expect more than that, let her know beforehand.   There is a monetary implication here, in either event, as she will not be making her money off the barfine (she gets 100 baht of the 500 to 600 baht per night from the barfine).   She will be expecting some remuneration from you whether you are 18 years old, Leonardo DeCaprio, Angelina Jolie, or 80 years old.   Might be best to barfine her for one night first, just to make sure your original assessment of the "good vibrations" was correct.

      It can be a big turn-off to talk about money with dancers you are taking out, but it could save many very serious headaches and/ or ugly scenes later on.   There are many ways to broach the subject indirectly of course, so let your imagination be your guide.


? ASK US (ALMOST) ANYTHING !
  • Email bangkokeyes@gmail.com and "ASK" - -   Click Here
  •          We can answer virtually any (reasonable) question on the Expat Night Entertainment Scene in Bangkok - be it Historical or very recent.   Send us an e-mail and we will do our best to answer you soonest.
    'Boge' Hartman
    Historical Research
    * Zootramp Publications




                

    - In the LAND OF SMILES -


             This month the MIDNITE HOUR awards the "Thai Smile" to a friend of Suzie's at Sukhumvit 1 Plaza.




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    Let the February 2007 Follies begin...
       MIDNITE HOUR presents our monthly recap of the   
    NEWS on Bangkok's Expat Night Scene.   

      PATPONG  I  
    MAP
                The Tip Top (the other one; the one above Kings Corner on Soi Bookstore) has changed their sign yet again.   A very minor change to be sure, but it will perhaps help differentiate between this one and the one on the main drag.   So for the historical record, let's make it official : " Tip Top Thai Asian Dining & Grill ".   Also, just for the record, they are a comfortable, low-key Poolbar Lounge.   Let it roll on.
    PATPONG I

      PATPONG  II  
    MAP
                The Royal Salute Cocktail Lounge was one of the 'pioneers' of The Ramp above Patpong II, making it's debut some twenty, or so, years ago.   In spite of what their sign taped to the front door says (below), we have it on good authority they have given up the ghost.   We are sorry to see them go under, but the Darwinian Imperative plays no favorites.

    The sign reads: "Closed for renovation and repairs since 1 December 2006 onwards," however, we noted the lights were on and the sign wasn't there on 31 Dec (?)
      PATPONGII

      THERMAE  
                The M's Bar, opened a little over a year ago (June 2005), was darker than a poisoned well when we passed by last night.   A 'friendly' from Bush Garden Coffee Shop downstairs advised they reeled in the red carpet just after New Year's Day.   A spacious pool bar, it might have succeeded if they had lowered the volume of the techno a couple hundred decibel.   Greener pastures, gang.
      THERMAE / THERMAE ANNEX

      SOI  COWBOY  
    MAP
                Going almost unnoticed (at least by the beer-glazed Farang) are the dozen or so food carts plying their stuffs on the Soi each evening.   When we passed through last night we saw one of the vendors give the flower urchins a plate of kanom chin to share among themselves.   Surely this generosity will be noted in the Kharmic Ledger somewhere....
        SOI  COWBOY 


                A gaggle of Farang playing "Survivor" in front of the deep-fried insect seller's cart.   The grasshoppers went down quite well, but those little black ones looked waaay too evil....
      SOI  COWBOY

     NANA  PLAZA  
    MAP
               
    Door Art Of The Month
    Award

         As most of the local expats have already heard by now, the Hog's Breath Saloon has finally winked out. But not after almost exactly twenty years' worth of happy hours, chits in the cup, and crazy A Go-Go dancers.   It was bought by the same people that own the Deja Vu, et al, on Cowboy.   Oh, and it's 'official' : the Hog's Breath and the next door Spankys will be joined into a double-shophouse A Go-Go - just as was rumored all along.   We just had to give it the Door Art Of The Month Award - if for no other reason than 'time in grade'.   We hope they find things more to their liking a little further on down the road a piece.
    SOI   COWBOY

                Of course, anyone who has been in Thailand more than two weeks will remember this traditional folk-dance classic.   Nevertheless, while it is on the tip of our tongues, we just can't seem to place it....   Driven by throbbing guitars, he was dancing up, and acting up, a one-man gig that wouldn't quit the other night out in front of the Alibi bar beer.
    NANA   PLAZA

                See?   It says so right there on the banner.   The Lollipop will be celebrating their 10th anniversary tonight.   ...Not.   The Lollipop has been pumping for way longer than that, gang.   Hint : you would have been a little closer to the mark if you had said fifteen years, thereabouts....   Who is doing your books?   But don't let that stop you, rock 'n roll is the name of the game.
    NANA   PLAZA

      SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS  
    MAP
                Club Fushicho goes back - waaaay back.   It started out as Nana Plaza's (not a typo) first -and only- Japanese club (where the G-Spot now stands).   It, however, has been on Soi Dead Artists for years, doing a solid business the whole time.   Not too long ago, they lost a battle with Bangkok's Sign Gestapos and had to fall back to using their full name; Fushicho Plan Co. Ltd..   They now have some new portable (thus under the radar) neon which just reads 'Fushicho'.   ....And the artwork is noteworthy.   They are located in the Peep Inn complex.
    SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS -  SOI  33

                The Chi Haru Karaoke Club is no more, having caved in this last month - and immediately selling out to the La Vogue Club.   The La Vogue wasted no time rolling out the red carpet and unlocking the liquor cabinet - their soft opening only about two weeks ago.   Too soon to have their new neon nailed up, but we did score a business card (below).   Welcome them to the nightgames.
    SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS

                The Arsom Sabai Thai Traditional Massage is giving it another shot.   We noted in last month's issue that they wouldn't be answering the bell for the next round....   It seems, however, that they weren't really dead, just playing 'possum.   They are located down at the far end, back in Sub-Soi 5.
    SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS

      SOI  KATOEY  
    MAP
                Last month we noted that Luminous had had their soft opening, but that they hadn't had time to get the neon shingle nailed up.   But that was then, this is now - their new signage is, well, luminous - it cannot be looked at directly without damage to the retina.   Keep on rockin'.
    SOIKATOEY

                The street between The Balcony and the Telephone Pub, Lounge & Restaurant has effectively been arboured with light strands.   An unusual, colorful and, we are willing to bet, a soon-to-be copied idea.
    SOIKATOEY

      QUEEN'S  PARK  PLAZA  
    MAP
                The Cupid Bar, opened only last month, has succumbed to the miseries.   Last month the owner mentioned she was hoping to lease the mini-bar beer to the first person in the door with a fifty thousand baht nut, but we guess that hasn't yet happened....?   
    QUEEN'SPARKPLAZA

                We knew the Kangaroo Bar bar beer had been sold, but we weren't expecting a name change...   The new owner has settled on The Belgian Dog Bar.   He is currently in a running gun battle with the Sign Gestapos, who won't let him have an illuminated sign, and come to think of it they won't let him have a neon sign, and they won't.... well, you get the idea.   He says it's only a matter of time before he gets approval (that is, if you consider the old adage, 'time is money').
    QUEEN'SPARKPLAZA

                It was as we suspected; the Top Secret was closed last month for a few days on New Year's.   It was not out for the count.   The rock still rocks; the roll still rolls....
    -File photo
    QUEEN'SPARKPLAZA

      SUKHUMVIT  1  PLAZA   
    MAP
                Last month MIDNITE HOUR noted the soft opening of a brand new Poolbar on the second floor, and mentioned that they were so new they hadn't decided on a name, let alone put up any neon.   Well that was then, this is now.   The Lynx has in fact nailed up their new neon shingle - you won't miss it at the head of the stairs.   We wish them constancy.

    The new Lynx aims to please - attractive pool sharkesses and attractive prices - happy hour until 8:00 p.m. - all drinks Baht 55.
    SUKHUMVIT  1  PLAZA

                What long ago was The Sport Bar in the now defunct 13 Night Market (Thermae Annex area) became the Sports Bar 2 when it pioneered it's way into the history books as the first bar to open in Sukhumvit 1 Plaza.   Last year, it changed it's name to Beaver's, only to change back to just plain old Sports Bar again last month.   Same friendly Poolbar.   Roll with the tide, you gotta roll with the tide.

             -File photo
    SUKHUMVIT  1  PLAZA

                The Sexy Bar Poolbar has been embellishing it's neon as well.   Looks much better, no?
    SUKHUMVIT  1  PLAZA

                As the air conditioned Only She Bar was swallowed up by Fate's dark waters, so floated to the surface the bright new Angel Bar.   (No relation to either of Soi 22's long-standing Angel Bar bar beers.)   Poolbar remains the modus operandi.   Welcome them to Bangkok's neon circus.
    SUKHUMVIT  1  PLAZA

                Last month we had planned to do a "thumbnail" on Suzie, the bar owner / mamasan extraordinaire, and include some of her New Year's Eve party photos.   Well, the road to Hell (and anonymity) is paved with good intentions - we dropped the ball.   Suzie is probably one of the last of the old-time mamasans (although she owns her own bars).   She knows how to handle the new girls, she knows how to handle the shrewd old crones that would like to keep their hand in it.   She knows how to deal with the few katoeys and transgenderites that work for her.   She knows how to keep one half of one eye on the cash register.   She knows how to wrangle the customers, be they first-timers, or old-timer sugar daddys.   She knows how to deal with Farang who would be 'partners' with her in the bar owners' merry-go-round.   More importantly, she knows how to deal with landlords and the Men In Too-Tight Uniforms.   And lastly, she continues to shake it, not break it (she would have done Mukda proud).   Hats off to Suzie, one of a unique breed.

    Suzie started in Clinton Plaza with Suzie & Crazy Bar, then moved over to the ill-fated Sukhumvit Square where she owned two Suzie Bars.   Then she had a place at the equally ill-fated Asoke Plaza before moving over to "Soi 6".   When she sold out over there, she came here to Sukhumvit 1 Plaza.

    Suzie and friends.
    SUKHUMVIT  1  PLAZA

      SOI   TWILIGHT  
    MAP
                Several months ago the Screw / Boy / Go Go Bar disappeared from Patpong II (located next to the old Pink Panther).   One of the original owners stayed around, however, and opened the Bangkok Bar, which is currently doing well there.   But he had other plans - last month he opened the New Screw Boys A Go Go Bar just upstairs from the Ha Dao (Five Star) on Soi Twilight.   But that's not all - after 01:30 a.m. the "other half" of the venue opens up as the $BM Discotheque (just say, 'Black Market').   They stay in high gear until the sun comes up.   Both are gay venues.   Welcome back to Bangkok's briar patch.
    SOI  TWILIGHT

                The old (closed) Bar Lover Shot Bar would like to reopen in the worst way - as the X-Love A-Go-Go-Boys, however, as their sign reads, 'anyone interested in partnering, enquire within'.   It may, or may not, be opening soon - we'll believe it when we see the whites of their eyes.
    SOI  TWILIGHT



    NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS DEPARTMENT
      WASHINGTON  SQUARE  
    MAP
      SOI  EDEN  
    MAP
    (No News !)




    VICARIOUS ART CRIMES    # 18

    MIDNITE HOUR's

    GRAFFITI IN THE NEWS

    Banksy Strikes Again
    MUSEUM DISPLAYS FAKE CAVE ART

          The British Museum kept on display for three days an obviously fake 'cave art' rock carving before noticing it's blunder.   The piece went unnoticed because it was so close in style and form to legitimate pieces that it blended in almost seamlessly.
    The piece was described thusly; "This finely preserved example of primitive art dates from the Post-Catatonic era.   Early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds".

          The placing of this faux primitive pictograph in the museum was the latest art prank by the well-known graffiti writer 'Banksy' (real name unknown).   The piece of fake prehistoric rock art depicted a caveman with a shopping cart (see photo above).   A spokesperson for the British Museum admitted the rock was "in keeping with the other exhibits; the explanatory text was quite similar".   She added, they were "seeing the lighter side of it".

          The 'cave art' piece is now back in Banksy's possession and slated for exhibit at his new show, Outside Institute, which will have opened by the time you see this in print.   It will have a sign saying it is "on loan from the British Museum".

          The British Museum, in keeping with the spirit in which the prank was intended, have stated, "We have loaned the rock to Banksy but we are still in the process of deciding what to do with it".

          Banksy, in addition to 'authoring' many well-known graffiti writings, has hung many bogus art pieces in various famous art galleries in Europe, England and North America.   A recent 'addition' to the prestigious Tate Gallery is shown below.

          MIDNITE HOUR has covered some of Banksy's earlier humorous outings - click here to see our July 2006 Graffiti issue.





    - And now to Bangkok's own brand of Graffiti....


    Graffiti #113
    Elephant Burial Ground
    8 ft. high x 27 ft.


    Graffiti #114
    Child's Play
    8 ft. high x 12 ft.


    Graffiti #115
    Tail Of The Dog
    6 ft. high x 20 ft



    Graffiti #116
    Dragged Anchor
    6 ft. high x 20 ft.


    Graffiti #117
    Nicoteenager
    6 ft high x 5 ft


    Graffiti #118
    Goosed Turtle
    8 ft. high x 12 ft.


    Graffiti #119
    King Of Cans
    8 ft. high x 12 ft.



    GRAFFITI ARCHIVES :
    Graffiti, graffiti , and more Graffiti - Bangkok's original and ONLY graffiti Site !


       The M IDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman .

    (Boge's photo, above, is not a graffiti per-se, although there are those who have insinuated....)    


           
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                   William R. Morledge



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