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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review

A Go-Go  Bangkok

01 May 2007
William R. Morledge
Ask Us - The "R&R" Anachronism
A Thai Smile......

May's Nightlife News
Graffiti  -Bangkok's Art Vandals # 20


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The A Go-Go stage at the Erotica is typical - a long, centrally located chrome-poled 'runway', where up to three 'floors', or groups of dancers, rotate throughout the evening.

         Ever since MIDNITE HOUR published what may be the only complete History of A Go-Go <link> in February 2006, we have been getting queries and urgings from friends to do a piece on 'A Go-Go Today in Thailand' - or words to that effect..   

         Well, as ships passing in the night occasionally do collide, we have been talking with the Erotica Bar A Go-Go for the last few months about a 'promotion piece' for that bar.   Negotiations, if you could call them that, were interesting to say the least - we could not take any payment for the promotion, as it would sacrifice our independence as gatherers of historical entertainment.   Further, we explained that we weren't into 'sexploitation', and the 'promotion' would remain linked to historical aspects of the 'A Go-Go Bars' of Bangkok.
A couple of 'lovelies' pose between chrome poles.   If you are there for more than just the viewing, it's best and safest not to let alcohol get you out ahead of your headlights - sometimes appearances can be deceiving.

         Now that we've got all the CYA out of the way, we can make a long story short - the Erotica Bar were understanding of our position, and in fact were happier presenting this way than, say promoting 'ladies of the night', either directly or indirectly.   

         While most of this is 'old hat' to most of you jaded Bangkokians, we'll cover the bases for the newly-arrived and for our foreign readers.   A Go-Go kicked off in Bangkok circa 1969, with the Grand Prix on Patpong I being the first successful bar of that format.   Since that time, dozens of 'formats', thousands of 'costume' styles and dozens more 'music mixes' have been tried.   Neither being more nor less successful than the other, if you must know the truth.
An end view of the A Go-Go stage (no pun intended) as they change 'floors'.         As escort 'buy-outs' are frequent, the Erotica will have many more dancers in the early evening.

         The successful A Go-Go must understand why people go to A Go-Go bars in the first place.   People do not go to A Go-Go bars to see Hawaiian costumes or knee-length black boots, or to listen to 'Oldies' or rap or techno.   They do not go because the neon sign is a dazzler.   They go for only one reason.   They go because they want to watch young good-looking women dance, and to mix with the hostesses.   It's not rocket-science.   The survivors, like the Erotica Bar, have all found this out, either the easy way or the hard way.
Part & parcel of the dancers' working evening is sitting and chatting with customers, (many of whom are Asian), who will most often buy them drinks.

         Operationally, the Erotica Bar is typical of Bangkok's A Go-Gos, the dancers work for a monthly salary, and they make a little extra money when customers buy them a drink, the 'house' taking the rest.   Or if the hostesses or dancers accompany a customer as an escort out of the bar, the bar collects a 'bar fine' from the customer at that time, and the customer will pay the young lady for her additional attentions. It's been this way from the beginning, and it is not likely to change in the forseeable future.   Nevertheless, we feel it is worth recording for the historical record - especially as the forseeable future has never really been that long.

         All photographs above have been reprinted with the consent of the Erotica Bar A Go-Go.

            ERRATUM    (Ahemm...)

         Last month MIDNITE HOUR did a revisit to Sukhumvit Soi 5, reporting diligently on all the Night Entertainment Venues in sight.   Well, the word "diligently" is only relative, we guess.   We managed to walk right under the Roof Top Garden without bothering to look up (it's located just above the Foodland Supermarket).   Almost immediately, we got an email from the management, and some photos of their Nitespot (see below).   The Roof Top Garden is a spacious, under-the-awning day & night Pool Bar, closing most nights only as the rooster crows.   Keep on rollin'.

The staff of the Roof Top Garden pose for a group shot.

Interior photos courtesy of owner

 Historical Minutiae Dept.


"R&R" Anachronism
The Q & A

         I see a lot of conflicting info on the Bangkok bar websites and blogs.   A couple of websites say that Soi Cowboy was a popular R&R bar area during the Vietnam War, and that Patpong was mostly for tourists.   ...   I first went to Thailand in 1982, so what's the real deal?

         We've seen much of the same conflicting info on the Internet (but we take the good with the bad, don't we?)   We suspect those that said Cowboy was an R&R bar area probably meant the Golden Mile area on the then-called New Petchbury Road, which was the main R&R area.
         The US fighting men went home in 1973, after the Paris Peace Accord went into effect - all of them.   -No G.I.s, no R&Rs - end of story.   Well, almost the end.... Soi Cowboy's first bar opened in 1975; it was called the Gold Label Bar.   And, yes, this was a couple of years before Cowboy retired from the military and opened the Cowboy Bar.   So Soi Cowboy missed being an R&R bar area by a little over two years.   We know all this for a fact, as the Soi was part of our nightly stomping grounds back in the Seventies.   See our Thumbnail History of Soi Cowboy and other Night Entertainment Areas on other pages in this website.

(The above is one of several similar queries.)

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  •           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
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    - In the LAND OF SMILES -

             This month the MIDNITE HOUR awards the "Thai Smile" to the attractive 'meeter-and-greeter' at the Erotica Bar in Nana Plaza.   In order to view the smile, look about two inches above where you were just looking.

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    Many Thanks,
    William R Morledge

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

      PATPONG  I  
                As nothing of historical interest was happening on Patpong I this last month, we thought we'd take a couple of photos for the record.   After we got back to the salt mines, we saw something in one of the photos that we had never noticed before, even though we had walked past that venue a thousand times over the last several years.   It seems the rest of Pussy Collection's sign is on the overhead eve looking down at you....   So now we can at least report the full name: Pussy Collection Club.
    - File photo

      PATPONG  II  
                Let's welcome the Royal Salute back to the same old briar patch all over again.   Last we heard, the place was up on the auction block, but when we passed by last night the neon was once again gracing The Ramp's walkway.   But as Paul Harvey might have said, ''s the rest of the story'.   The 'Old Man', who three months ago, wanted to get out of the business and enjoy life, has decided to give it to the kids to run instead of selling it.   Always good to see a familiar face.


      SOI  COWBOY  
                Our Place, now one of the oldest bars on The Soi, has completed it's face lift.   Removing the outside bar and investing in new neon, things are looking up.   Inside - the same comfortable A Go-Go bar.   Let the good times roll.

     NANA  PLAZA  
               Spankys have done as they promised they would - they have taken the old Spankys and combined it with the old Hog's Breath Inn, and have reopened on schedule.   We are now happy that we made adequate photo coverage of those two single-shophouse bars before they faded into history (see our March issue), as the new Spankys looks nothing like either.   We would say, 'Welcome back,' but you were never really gone.
    Door Art Of The Month

               Without reservation, Spankys, on the second floor of Nana Plaza is a visual bonanza.   Our meager coverage only begins to tell the tale.   The group that also owns Deja Vu and others on Soi Cowboy has brought the age of LED lighting to the NEP.   Love it or hate it, the 'way of the future' is no longer in the future - mega-lumen Las Vegas lighting is here to stay.   Have a look at a couple more shots below.


                As we passed by the Silver Dragon last night, we were greeted by bright, shiny padlocks on darkened roller-shutters.   But keep a candle burning, they are going hammer-and-tong into a major renovation, and could be reopening as early as next month.   Let's wait and see - will they also adopt the Las-Vegasesque neon signage, or stick with the old?   (Smart money's on 'Las Vegas'.)

                Nightgods shall no longer be hectoring the Cat House.   Seems like what went around, came around, and they stuffed their last chit into the cup sometime last month.   We're not superstitious, but maybe if they had fixed their sign....   Greener pastures, gang.
    - File photo

                Some say Playskool should fix their sign.   Others say, "Nahh, let it ride."   We hear ya.   But whatever they do end up doing, don't let them fire the disk jockey.   Long live rock 'n roll.

    The Playskool "PR Girl" is one of the most energetic we've seen.   Thirty-two teeth - all in front; definitely a candidate for our Thai Smile...


      SOI  KATOEY  
                The Zygosis, open only this last December, is now somewhere downstream of their final check bin.   Early last month, they stuck their neon under their arm and walked on down the road.   Too bad, but then reality has always held higher cards than expectations.
    - File photo

                ERRATUM    (Ahemm...)

                Breaking news - 'The Grapevine" can be wrong.   Last month we published what we thought would be a 'scoop'. We said that we heard through the grapevine that Bobby's old Pool Boyz Club area was going to be renovated, and upstairs would become a 'short-time hotel'.   But our hot news item went from 'scoop' to 'spike' before you could say, "Foot In Mouth Disease".   In reality, Bobby is intending to open Bobby's Arms Pub and Guest House there in the near future, and let it be known far and wide that the guest house will not be offering short-term rentals.   We thank Chris for writing in and telling us to get our Shinola together.


                ERRATUM    (Ahemm...)

                We hope nobody dogs us anymore about this....   Last month we barked loudly that the long-standing Po Massage had gone out of business.   And while we don't make mistrakes, we will try to weasel out of it by saying they were just playing possum.   And as if that weren't bad enough, blind as a bat, we stated that the Po Massage had become the brand-new Pheeran Massage and Spa.   With our tails between our legs, we confess, that both the Po Massage and the Pheeran, next door to one another, are both alive and kicking like a couple of newly branded heifers.

                There have been Good Times, and there have been Bad Times.   But right now it seems the Bad Times hold the edge, as the Good Times-Bar has recently fallen on it's sword.   But even before the body got cold, the 52 Club had moved into their digs, taking over lock, stock and chrome barstool.   A quick spruce-up and some new neon, and they kept on keeping on.   Welcome to partytown.

                When we were looking the other way, The Silver Dollar Bar went and took over the shophouse just to the right of them.   The new double-wide Silver Dollar looks good, the Tex-Mex is definitely good, and they have a solid coterie of hostesses.   What's not to like?

                We guess it had to happen....a Russian Pool Bar.   The Belgian Dog Bar, which occupied the digs just previous to this could, it seems, rev the engine, but just couldn't pop the clutch - so they did the next best thing, and sold to The Penguin.   The young Russian couple who manage The Penguin are pleasant and energetic, so here's hoping Fate's gnarled hand will roll them more sevens than nines.

    - File photo

                The Sweetheart Bar is once again in the wind.   We know not where.   We do know that when we passed by two nights ago, they were showing one and all the cold steel of their roller-shutters.   They are making a habit of doing this - makes us wonder if they will once again return to duty.   We'll put a marker down on this one and get back atcha.

      SOI  EDEN  
                Soi Eden, a relative 'new kid' on the Night Entertainment scene, seems to be proving itself in a couple of significant ways:   -Firstly, they are getting enough custom to sustain themselves, and secondly, there is very little turn-over of bars - so it looks like everyone is eking out a living.   

                This particular gentleman in a Too-tight Uniform was browbeating a bar manager at ten minutes before 01:00 a.m. because he had not closed at 01:00 a.m. as he should have.   But you ask, "If it's not even 01:00 a.m. yet, Bangkok's Finest can't do that, can they?"   To which we reply, "You haven't been here in Thailand very long, have you?"   The more things remain the same, the more they remain the same....

      SUKHUMVIT  1  PLAZA   
                The late-nighter Black & White (rooftop), closed down last month due to failure to remember how many heads of the tan-uniformed piyanak they were supposed to feed.   But never mind - that, too, has passed.   Note that Black & White don't have a sign at this juncture, so if you are planning a visit, just walk up and push open the door.   Welcome them back to the vicissitudes.
              -File photo

      SOI   TWILIGHT  




    Official Destroys Artwork

          An Australian politician who painted over a mural on public land as part of an anti-graffiti do-gooder stunt was told beforehand that the outdoor mural was a commissioned work of art by a renown artist.

          A local spokesperson stated that Steve Pratt, a Liberal politician, was advised of this before he embarked on his four-hour defacing binge last Saturday.   Pratt persisted in claiming that the artwork was graffiti, and could not be convinced to cease and desist from defacing the art work that that was commissioned for a cemetery wall in the suburb Woden.

          But Pratt's photo-op publicity stunt quickly backfired on him.   Chief Minister Jon Stanhope yesterday confirmed the mural was not illegal graffiti but an artwork paid for by a local sporting club.

          Nevertheless, Pratt persistently denies doing anything wrong - this in spite of the testimony of a spokesman for the ACT Community Art program, who said Pratt was told last week that the mural was a commissioned artwork.

          The ACT Community Art spokesman was asked directly if Pratt's office had contacted them, to which he replied, "Yes, that's correct."   The spokesman further revealed that they, at that time, had advised Pratt that the work was "a commissioned artwork".

          The ACT Government has called for a police investigation, saying Pratt should make a public apology and pay $3000 compensation to the artist.   Pratt, in spite of evidence to the contrary from his own office, has refused to apologise.   "I do not regret my actions or what I have done," he proclaimed, perhaps somewhat redundantly....

          Apparently still uncomprehending of the facts as determined beforehand by his own staff and the officials from the ACT Community Art program, he stated further, "I cleaned that graffiti off for a very good reason.   It was the most offensive piece of work that I could identify that had been neglected for a very long period."

       Apparently attempting to 'red-herring' the issue, Pratt continued, "I don't mean offensive in the art sense, it may be judged to be good art or bad art, but where it was located."

          Mr Hargreaves bluntly accused Pratt of trying to destroy community art; "At the end of the day this is artwork, not graffiti," he said.   In the final analysis, it appears that Pratt's spraycan rampage was the 'graffiti', and the mural was not.   The case remains unresolved as at this writing.

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

    Graffiti #134
    Last Tag Standing
    6 ft high x 12 ft

    Graffiti #135
    Pig Riders
    8 ft high x 13 ft

    Graffiti #136
    Fone Home
    8 ft high x 12 ft.

    Graffiti #137
    8 ft high x 7 ft

    Graffiti #138
    8 ft high x 9 ft

    Graffiti #139
    One-Mile Block Symphony
    6 ft. high x 32 ft.

    Graffiti #140
    6 ft. high x 5 ft.

    Graffiti #140-A
    17 ft. high x ? ft.

    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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