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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review



Night Scene Blues

01 May 2010
William R. Morledge

May's Nightlife News
Bangkok's Bars - 10 Years Ago  
A Smile in the Land of Smiles.
Ask Us ! - The 'Fish' Tank
Graffiti  -BKK's  Midnite Vandals - #57

         The Midnight Hour rarely takes an interest in Thailand's political matters - and then, only when these matters affect our local Night Entertainment Scene.    This month we report on the recent Red Shirt initiative and the extent to which it has affected Bangkok's nighttime activities.   Almost exactly a year ago, we discussed the Songkran Riots with our long-time contact 'Somchai'.   We renew and update our contact with Khun Somchai immediately below:
A view of Patpong I Road not seen since 1989, and not likely to be seen again.   As much as the local expats were delighted that the hideous tent city did not make it's usual appearance that night to sell their illegal "pirate copy" watches, fashion accessories, etc., a return to "business as usual" would be welcome by all.

         MH:   Have you been involved with, or have you been present at any of the recent Red Shirt riots, and what is your take on the degree to which the civil anarchy of the Red Shirts has affected, or perhaps not affected, the Bangkok Night Entertainment Scene?

         S:   I of course have been present at at least one of the Red Shirt occupied zones since their civil insurrection began.   This is a part of what I do.   But we should be clear that it would be impossible to separate out the Night Entertainment Scene from the rest of Bangkok as far as damage done to the various individual segments of the Thai economy.   The Night Entertainment Scene in general is affected in similar fashion, and to a similar degree that the other facets of the tourism industry are affected.   People are simply not coming to Thailand now, because they perceive that this is a dangerous place to be.
Military personnel provide security on a nearly empty Patpong I road following Red Shirt grenade attacks on the civilian population.

         MH:   On what do you base your conclusions?   Are there any hard data to support this view?

         S:   Well, in addition to my personal observations - friends from abroad who have notified me that they won't be coming to Thailand until such time as it is once again a safe destination, there are other easily confirmed data available.   The most obvious indicator is hotel occupancy rates; tourists are staying away in droves.   Not including the five-star and three-star hotels that have had to close as a direct result of the Red siege, those able to remain open are experiencing 15% - 30% occupancy, for the most part.   Many of the remaining five-star hotels are enforcing reduced workdays for staff - with commensurate cuts in pay.   When tourism has been reduced to this degree, it will, as I have mentioned, affect the Nightlife Scene to approximately the same degree.

An Army military transport vehicle poised at the Silom Road entrance to Patpong I Road.

         MH:      But aren't there some direct examples of the Red Shirt insurrection affecting the Night Scene, such as has been reported on Patpong Road?

         S:   Well, you have answered your own question.   Yes, Patpong I and Patpong II have been directly affected, Patpong I moreso than Patpong II.   While a large percentage of the bars remain open, very few have more than a couple of customers at any one time.   There is also a large security troop presence in Soi Thaniya, which seems to be contributing to the negative effect on those Japanese bars' ability to conduct business.   A walk down Thaniya late in the evening will reveal the gaggles of bargirls still curbside awaiting their Japanese customers, whereas in the past, they would have already returned to their respective bars, customers in hand.   Also, in the adjacent gay soi, Soi Twilight, although there are no soldiers within the soi itself, they are posted outside both entrances, and the soi remains very quiet.
Reporters, photographers and curious public straggle through Patpong I Road, which -for the most part- remained "open" in spite of the civil insurrection.

         MH:   So, then, in summary, do we conclude that this 'peoples revolution' has caused both direct and indirect harm to the Night Entertainment Scene in approximately equal measure to the harm it is causing Thailand's economy in general?

         S:   Yes, if I can repeat myself, this is the consensus.   However, here, again, we need to be clear on terminology.   The current Red Shirt insurrection, and their last year's Songkran riots, were not, and are not, in any way a "peoples' revolution".   It has only been late in the current Red Shirt insurrection that they have perceived an advantage in adopting the propaganda slogan and the pretense of a "Class War".   This is not a true 'People Power" protest, not by a long shot, and it is certainly not a "Class War" - it is a political power play, plain and simple.
The multi-storey parking lot behind Foodland on Patpong II provided the 'bivouac' area for soldiers on patrol for the Suriwong Road / Silom Road commercial area (including Night Entertainment Areas in Patpong I, Patpong II, Soi Katoey, Soi Twilight and Soi Thaniya).   Local establishments welcomed the military and provided toilets and showers in adjacent buildings, as well as generous donations of food and drink.

         MH:   Nevertheless, there is a very impressive turn-out of people showing up at the Red Shirt rally points.   There is obviously a very large following.

         S:   Yes, the turn-out at rally points is large indeed.   However, many of these, at least in the early days of last month, were 'followers' coming from local shops, etcetera, who would don their red shirts in the evening after work, and join the crowds just to see it and say they were part of it - and back to work on the following morning.   Many of those were in fact there because of newly awakened political feelings, but most saw it as an exciting and sanook outing - laughing and yelling back and forth, clapping their foot-clappers in camaraderie as they passed each other in pickups, motorcycles and on foot.   Many went to these rally points to take it all in and to take photographs.   As with any of these gatherings, the entire crowd was included in the estimates of participation.   You will note that their numbers are greatly reduced these last few days, however.
Army personnel direct and control vehicular traffic entering Patpong II Road - any such vehicles as might be using the multi-storey parking facility at that location are carefully screened before being allowed to enter.

         MH:   Although we have observed the same thing, we note that there are a great many 'permanent' protesters at these Red Shirt occupied zones.

         S:   Yes, those who are there long term are the UDD members.   These people are paid daily for their 'spontaneous' participation.   Although the current government hasn't emphasized this point, it has come out in the Press, and I have observed it myself on a daily basis.   But the support to these UDD types isn't only money paid to UDD members - they have a monstrous, deep and wide logistics system - all paid for by Thaksin, through his support groups.   The other daily expenses - vehicles, fuel and transportation, sanitary support, and providing food and drink- are enormous.    Just the bottled water costs per day are in the thousands of dollars.   Those of us on site in the occupied Red zones see several truckloads of bottled water being delivered each morning and each evening.   Then there are the broadcast costs - the TV station and radio stations around country, the hundreds of vehicles with drivers/announcers outfitted with expensive public address equipment.   And add to that, the provision of "red shirt paraphernalia".   All this I have seen with my own eyes.   The stages, barriers, chairs, awnings, the lighting and electrical wiring and generators, along with more transportation and handling, the huge and ubiquitous signs, and other massive amounts of printed propaganda - including trademarking the "Truth Today" logo.   All paid for by, again, Thailand's fugitive ex-Prime Minister Thaksin.   The cost of this very-much staged, so-called "Class Uprising" would easily have long ago soared into the hundreds of millions of baht.
An earlier shot of the newly forming anti-red "No-color Shirts", or "Many-Color Shirts" taken at Victory Monument.   The day after this photo was taken, this group was hit by four Red Shirt M-79 grenades on Silom Road, resulting in death and injury.   This new group has appealed to cessation of mob protests due to the damage being done to the Thai nation as a whole.

         MH:   You mention Thaksin as the source of this support.   Isn't Thaksin now denying any linkage to the Red Shirt insurrection?

         S:   Yes, of course, Thaksin is denying that linkage.   Now.   However this is only a recent propaganda ploy of his, just one more out-and-out lie.   You will recall he has made several radio and television broadcasts to "his" pee-nong UDD supporters at their various rally points, and has used these broadcasts as platforms for his propaganda.   It is only recently that he has found political advantage in denying any linkage.   Of course, in addition to the obvious - that there would be no other source for such a mega-million-baht putsch and propaganda assault - the money trail, the transfers, have been tracked long ago.

         MH:   We would be interested in a prognosis of what this red-shirted civil insurrection might have in store for the Night Entertainment Industry for the long term.   With Thaksin supporting the Red Shirt street mobs, it doesn't look like they will be ruinning out of funds any time soon.

         S:   It looks like the situation in Thailand is slowly cooling - not because of lack of funding to the Red mob, but because the Red Shirts are starting to be perceived as the bad guys.   Taxi drivers who once had their Thaksin radio stations blaring in their taxis are now crying the blues; they are only making a couple hundred baht a day - no longer able to afford rent, fuel, or feed the family.   The Red Shirt debacle at Chula hospital has turned a large sector of the public against them.   The Red Shirt "Men In Black" military arm pumping four M-79 grenades into an innocent civilian population - these people are sociopathic murderers and terrorists -in the true definition of the words- randomly killing and maiming other innocent Thais.   Thaksin can add these deaths to his personal list of murder victims; that list already containing those approximately 2,500 persons he extra-judicially terminated while supposedly cleaning up the "drug problem" while he was in office as Prime Minister.   Whatever the Red Shirts' intentions are, and regardless of whatever their propagandists are saying, they have only succeeded in one category - hurting Thailand.   The Red Mob's true colors are coming out.   Their propaganda is sounding more hollow by the day.

         MH:   What sort of timeframe do you envision for a winding down of the current situation - and specifically for the Night Entertainment Scene - and for things to return to normal?

         S:   It appears as though a partial meeting of the minds will occur, and that there will be a new election before the end of the year.   I do not profess any inside information, neither do I have a crystal ball, however, I suspect there will be a slowly diminishing Red Shirt presence in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand up until the particulars of the new election have been set in concrete.   It is likely that the Night Entertainment Scene will recover along with the rest of Thai tourism to the extent that, and in proportion to, the Red Shirts not appearing in the news.   We should be able to look forward to a typical 'winter' tourist season here in Thailand.

         MH:   Midnight Hour would like to thank you once again for your insights into the current civil insurrection.



          This month's Thai Smile Award goes to .....

? Old

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William R Morledge

 Historical Minutiae Dept.

The 'Fish' Tank

Hello Boge,

Pawing through .... old photos I came across a couple shots of the "Mermaidium".   These photos were taken in either 2001 or 2002.   I remember they had girls skinny-dipping for coins that the customers would throw in.   Do you have any idea if this place is still open, or has it been closed down?

Sign Me:
'San Diego Kid'

Greetings S.D.,

There has been only one such bar in Bangkok to our knowledge: the Lollipop Mermaidium in Nana Plaza.   Definitely one of Bangkok's landmark bars.   It closed down for renovations in August 2002, and reopened in November of that year as just Lollipop.   The Lollipop is still open, however it does not have the skinny-dipping activities of old - the glass 'fish' tanks were removed during the 2002 renovations.


'Boge' Hartman

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    Let the May 2010 Follies  begin...
    BANKOK EYES' Expat Night Scene.

      PATPONG  I  
                Radio City is closed down - we believe this is a temporary condition brought about by the current Red Shirt anarchy.   We will be keeping an eyeball peeled and advise all of any change in status.
    - File photo      
      PATPONG  I  

                Lucifer Disko (upstairs from Radio City) is likewise closed.   We expect this venue to reopen once the civil insurrection of the Red Shirted street thugs subsides.
    - File photo      
      PATPONG  I  

                Twilo Live has also shut it's doors - again, it is thought this is a temporary closure brought on by the lawless Red Shirt mobs.
    - File photo      
      PATPONG  I  

                Yet another bar, the Pussy Collection A Go-Go has closed - we are not sure if this is because of the siege of the Red Shirt mobs, or because of business reasons - note the staff have transferred (we hope temporarily) to the SuperStar.   We will keep keep a finger on the pulse, and get back atcha.
    Ha Ha Ha Is Not So Funny

      PATPONG  I  

      PATPONG  II  
                The Spanky's 3 A Go-Go opened on schedule at the beginning of this April.   This is not so much a change of owners as it is a new partnering arrangement involving a name change.   Yes, they are related to Spanky's in Nana Plaza - even though it does beg the question - if this is Spanky's 3, then where is Spanky's 2?
      PATPONG  II  

                Bobby's Arms is undergoing some major renovations - and will end up giving patrons the option of indoor-outdoor eating.   The menu is being expanded (and no, it did not close down during renovations; they are still serving.   Next month, we will endeavor to bring some new photos to the table with us.   Keep on keeping on....
      PATPONG  II  

                The Royal Salute Cocktail Lounge has tanked yet again.   They have made several attempts to get up-and-running over the last couple years, but, hidden up on The Ramp - there just doesn't seem to be enough passing foot trade to keep it out of the red.   We are certain that, in time, they will reopen, and when they do, we shall so trumpet.
      PATPONG  II  

      SOI  COWBOY  
                The Tilac A Go-Go is in the running for a "Door Art Of The Month" award - however, this month we inlcude it as an archive photo.
      SOI  COWBOY  

                Another photo for the archives - Soi Cowboy in all it's neon glory - the moniker 'Little Las Vegas' all the more apropos.
      SOI  COWBOY  

     NANA  PLAZA  

             Last month we noted that the 3rd-floor A Go-Go bar that was previously the Hollywood Strip was being renovated.   This month renovations are nearing completion, and it looks like they will (eventually) reopen under the same name.
      NANA  PLAZA  

      SOI  KATOEY  
                This month the Sphinx have spanned their indoor premises on the right hand side of the soi with their outdoor area on the left.   They have done so with the creation of a 'virtual ceiling' of lights and banners.   The beat goes on...

                The Pheeran specialty massage has reopened after a temporary closure of less than a month.   Welcome them back to the slippin' and a slidin'.

                The Monet have completed their new facade / neon upgrade - all is well.   Let the good times roll.

                The Ran Maru Men's Spa was looking darker than a poisoned well the other night.   Their lease has been picked up by an old Soi Dead Artists type, and he will be reopening under the moniker, "Hookers" in the very near future.   We'll keep an ear to the ground, and when it opens, we'll get back atcha.
    - File photo      

                Rumors over the last year of the Hutthasat 2's closing (relocation) have proven groundless.   They are still at their original location - one of the entirely legitimate traditional massage parlors in the area.   The adjacent Hutthasat 22 (for foot massage) is also hanging in.   We wish them constancy.

    Door Art Of The Month
                   The long-time standing Hideaway takes away the Door Art Of The Month award this month - colorful and making good use of reflections, they present a most interesting facia to the public.
    QUEEN'S  PARK  PLAZA  -  SOI  22

      SOI  EDEN  
                The Ring Bar - Magic Table are going full torque while renovations proceed.   They currently have doused their topside neon - giving rise to the possibility of a name change.   (You will remember a couple months back, we noted that the owners told us the new name would be 'Geisha'.)   Time will tell it's tale.....
      SOI  EDEN    SUKHUMVIT  SOI  7/1

                While there are no soldiers currently patroling within Soi Twilight (as may be found in Thaniya, and the Patpongs), the men in green are posted just outside the entrances to the soi.   There has been a very definite drop-off in customers in the 'Twilight Zone', as can be seen from the photo below.

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    Bangkok Eyes jumps back in time to have a look at who was new - and who was through.   We'll be willing to bet that many of you "Old Bangkok Hands" will be reminded of some bars you'd almost forgotten.   (We also will be willing to bet you WON'T EVEN REMEMBER an even greater number....)
    10 YEARS AGO  :
          The King's Garden reopened after a temporary one-month "renovation" a decade ago.   It is still at that location.
    PATPONG  II -  2000

          Likewise, the Le Bouchon Restaurant & Pub reopened after a temporary one-month "renovation" a decade ago.   They are still at that location.
    PATPONG  II -  2000

          Ten years ago the Moonshine Joint (Whiskey and Go Go) bar closed down temporarily for renovations.   They are still at that location today.
    SOI  COWBOY -  2000

          A decade ago, in the newly formed Cowboy Annex (would become Asoke Corner / Asoke Plaza), several bars changed locations within, jockeying for more advantageous real estate.   In the process there were a couple of changes;

             - Sakura bar beer disappeared without a trace.

             - Asoke Beer House bar beer came into being (took over the reins from the Blue Bird bar beer).

          Ten years ago the Angel Witch Rock Dancers opened their doors for the first time.   They took over the Agogo 2000 digs, which was located on the 2nd floor where the Mercury is now located.   They would later move to their current location.
    NANA  PLAZA -  2000

          Ten years ago the Fantasia closed down for renovations.   They would reopen at that location a few months after that.   They are still at that location.
    NANA  PLAZA -  2000

          The 2nd floor Space Pub gave up the ghost a decade ago this month.   It was located next door to the Telephone Pub - which is still at it's original location.
    SOI  KATOEY  (SILOM  SOI  4) -  2000

          In the now defunct Tobacco Road Night Entertainment Area, the U & I Beer Bar closed ten years ago, this month.   It was not to reopen.
    TOBACCO  ROAD  (SOI  ZERO)  -  2000

          A decade ago, the 33 Center massage reopened after a brief closure.
    SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS  -  2000

          In the now-extinct Clinton Plaza, the following changes took place ten years ago, this month;

             - The Love Scene Bar & Restaurant opened it's doors for the first time.

             - The Maya bar beer closed it's doors for the last time as Maya moved her crew to an outside location.

             -The Wind Mill bar beer closed it's doors yet again - it eventually would reopen in conjunction with the Kangaroo.

             - The unnamed beer bar located inside the warehouse at the back was finally named B.J.s Bar Beer.

             - Much to everyone's relief, they removed the tawdry boxing ring from Clinton Plaza that month.
    CLINTON  PLAZA  -  2000



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    William R. Morledge

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