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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review


Racism & Prejudice

01 October 2010
William R. Morledge

October's Nightlife News
Bangkok's Bars - 10 Years Ago  
A Smile in the Land of Smiles.
Ask Us ! - Massage Roulette
Graffiti  -BKK's  Midnite Vandals - #60

         We recently received a query from a reader who wanted to know whether several specific Japanese bars were exclusively for Japanese - (or could anyone patronize these venues), and was there a law against racism in Thailand.   As we have received several similar inquiries, perhaps it is time to address the issue as we see it through our now-aging Bangkok eyes.
- File photo          

         The answer to the first question (can non-Japanese patronize those bars that are obviously "Japanese bars") is yes, and no.   From our experience, we have been denied entry to some Japanese Nitespots, while we were welcome at others.   In the cases where we were 'denied' entry, it was by request, rather than say, physical restraint by a bouncer.   In some cases, just to make the waters muddier, we have been invited into some Japanese bars very early in the evenings, or very late at night, when there were no Japanese customers present, so we could also legitimately answer the question with, "sometimes yes, sometimes no".

         It should be noted that the Japanese often prefer to go to Japanese style bars, and it follows that Japanese bar owners will have opened bars that cater to their customers' desires.   This establishing of venues which are exclusive to Japanese is done by various means.   The first tip is the sign is either in Japanese language, or it might say something similar to "Japanese Karaoke" in English on the sign.   Another technique to establish exclusivity is to make the Nitespot a "Member Club".

         Before we go any farther, it should be noted that Member Clubs are not in the private domain of the Japanese - Bangkok has many such Night Entertainment Venues, often exlusive to Thais or other nationalities.   And please remember - Member Clubs are popular in the USA and most other countries - for the same reasons.   It should also be rememembered that any Night Entertainment Venue has the right to refuse service to a given individual.   Although the management of said venue doesn't usually exercise that right, they do have the right.   

      Usually, a venue which refuses service to an individual has a legitimate reason, as in cases where the individual is drunk and disorderly, improperly attired, under age, and a long shortlist of other reasons.   And in the case of Member Clubs, you are required to be a member in order to gain access (duh).   There are legalities to be considered at this juncture, specifically, a Member Club is not a public venue by definition, however most venues are operating under licenses which say otherwise.   The term "Member Club", then, at least in most cases, is just a sign nailed up on the front, and the management will decide whether they want you as a customer at the time you arrive.   We have often walked into Member Clubs unaccosted by management - so I guess it looked like we weren't there to cause a ruckus, and our wallets looked fat enough.   This use of "Member Club" as a means of denying service, when used benignly, gives the bar owner, or manager a tool to keep out disorderly customers, and the like.

         But then, couldn't this Member Club ruse, and similar, be abused in a prejudicial manner?   Yes, it could, and yes, it is.   And again, not just in the Japanese bars.   We, personally, have been witness to denial of service to Indians, Arabs and Blacks in some of the bars on Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza.   It was more than obvous that this was done in a prejudicial manner, and that the race & nationality of the individuals was the reason.

         To answer our reader's second question directly, there is no practical way to outlaw racism, or for that matter prejudices of any kind, in that these are irrational preferences (for, or against) that swirl in the minds of individuals.   It is, however, possible to legislate against an overt preferential treatment based on race or nationality.   Keeping in mind where we woke up this morning, many laws are preferential, or exclusive, to Thais here in Thailand, and these laws are more than sufficient; they preclude the need for additional legislation relating to race.   Even if there were such additional "race" laws, these laws, along with traffic laws, laws against Bangkok's Finest taking bribes, laws against prostitution, etc., would continue to be ignored until such time as there was some fleeting political reason not to.

         Oh, and by the way, if you are an expat - it is not very likely you would find the Japanese bars your 'cup of tea' - they are somewhat devoid of the action we jaded Westerners have become used to, and they are (slightly to very much) more expensive - and often, you would be expected to 'buy a bottle' to keep at the bar for return visits.   Occasionally, you might be invited by a Japanese to go to a Japanese bar - and if you haven't been before, you should take advantage of the opportunity.   Otherwise, there is more than enough going on elsewhere - you won't miss a thing.

"The letter"  >>

         Dear Mr. Hartman,

         Can you please tell me if the following clubs in Sukhumvit Soi 33 & 55 (Soi Thonglor) are only for Japanese, and non-Japanese are not allowed to enter?   I was told that they treat the non-Japanese as "gaijin" (outsiders). 1. Kosu Mosu - Soi 33,    2. Fairy club,    3. Izakaya Hanagoyomi - Soi 7    4. Hoyo - Soi 9    5. Club Miyabi - Soi 55    6. Otome Japanese Club - Soi 13    7. Rejin Kan - Soi 9    8. Sala Club - Soi 55    9. Studio 982 - Soi 55    10. X Club - Soi 13.

Last question,
Is there no law against racism in Thailand?



          This month Midnight Hour "Thai Smile" goes to a young and talented masseuse.

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William R Morledge

 Historical Minutiae Dept.

Massage Roulette

Hello Sir!

         I am wondering if you can tell me where the massage parlors are in Bangkok - the Thai traditional massage parlors that offer a good massage and then a HJ.   Many places ask me if (I want) "specials", but I want a place where the massage is a teaser, and then I have no choice but to say yes to the HJ, and the HJ is really slow and good.   Can you recommend, and if not can you point me to someone that can?   

Thank you for your time!

Greetings, M,

         In a nutshell, you are looking for a massage parlor that provides a very specific service.   This is 'confusing the subject with the object' -- you are not looking for a parlor, you are looking for a girl.   But first a rundown of the types of massage parlors you will find in Bangkok - all of which can be found on Sukhumvit Soi 33 in greater or lesser numbers:

*    Traditional Thai Massage Parlors -   Thai massage and foot massage found here.

*    Thai Massage offering Oil Massage - Thai Traditional, Foot Massage, Oil Massage.   The hanky-panky usually starts here, esp for your stated desires.   Oil massages, if given in a private room usually mean hanky-panky.   This type of parlor often offers "call out services" to your hotel - which can include anything.

*    Massage Parlors offering Specials - you select from a menu and pick a masseuse, or you can follow the 'queue' and take pot luck.   Everything is available here, and in fact the girls expect more than massage.   Private rooms, usually with showers.

*    Specialty Massage Parlors - "Fashion" Massages, Korean Akasuri, etc,.   You select from a menu also, but the menu is more varied.   Private rooms - sometimes expensive for what you get.

*    Thai "Fishbowl" massage parlors - steam & cream emporiums, where you go in and select a girl from behind the glassed-in "fishbowl" - and go up to your private room with a shower.   These massage parlors are brothels.

         Your best bet is to look for the second type of massage parlor, the Thai Massage offering Oil Massage, and then search out a masseuse that you can communicate well enough with to express your desires.   You may not get there the first time; in fact, you may have to spend considerable time finding the right masseuse for you.   It will, at that point, be entirely up to you to let her know what you mean by "really slow and good".   This is something neither we, nor anyone else can help you with.

         Please also note, Midnight Hour does not make specific recommendations for Night Entertainment Venues of any kind, for the simple reason that people are wont to believe we are giving them "guarantees of satisfaction" and will often become abusive if they don't find themselves in 'heaven'.   No reasonable person would attempt to guarantee how another's experience will turn out.   Good luck on your quest.

'Boge' Hartman

  • Email 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.
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    Let the October 2010 Follies  begin...
    BANKOK EYES' Expat Night Scene.

      PATPONG  I  

    Door Art Of The Month
                   The King's Corner, technically closed for renovations during October, has still managed to pull down the Door Art of the Month accolade this month.   An outstanding job - the use of blue backlighting has entirely transformed the look of the old King's Group bar.   We will be most interested to see what the new interior will look like.

      PATPONG  I  

      PATPONG  II  

                Bobby's Arms Pub has been entirely gutted this time.   We thought they were almost completed on their earlier renovation, but now all that has been ripped asunder.   We'll keep an eyeball peeled and get back atcha.
      PATPONG  II  

                Two months ago we noted the closure of the Three Ladys up on The Ramp on Patpong II.   But that was then, this is now - they have shaken off whatever it was that was ailing them, and are once again full-throttle.   Welcome them back to partytown.

      PATPONG  II  

                Shock news, if we can use the term, this month is the Executive Lounge failing to answer the bell for the next round.   And to add insult to injury, by the time you read this, the entire structure will be rubble.   We snapped a couple of last-second shots of the interior (see below) to record for the historical archives - not exactly the Cistine Chapel, but certainly a flavor of the bars of old Patpong.   The Executive Lounge had been part of the scene for just on 20 years - greener pastures, gang.

      PATPONG  II  

      SOI  COWBOY  
                A quick shot of the Rawhide for the Midnight Hour archives - a former "Door Art Of The Month" bar.   A Go-Go remains the main event.
      SOI  COWBOY  

     NANA  PLAZA  
                Club Bunnies will soon be opening in the old Cat House digs on the second floor at the top of the stairs. From the sound of things, it won't be another bar beer........   Likely opening date: this coming November.

      NANA  PLAZA  

                Another one for the archives - the iridescence of the Red Lips neon is unmissable.
      NANA  PLAZA  

      SOI  KATOEY  
                When the rains come to Soi Katoey, out come the umbrellas and the awnings.   Nevertheless, the customers continue to stay away in droves.

                We have featured this as-yet unnamed bar before, speculating WTF all the while.   This time around, things have gained a modicum of clarity - a "For Rent" sign now appears on the door; the facility was renovated on spec.   Prospective bar owners, (or should we say lessees?) take note.


                The Saikai, having stuffed its last chit in the cup and having said it's final sayonara's, has faded into the shadows.   There in it's place, after a brief, but rather extensive renovation is the new Bongo, and is, as was it's predecessor, a Nippon-centric Nitespot.   Welcome them to the machine.

                We've mentioned the impending birth of Hookers a couple times previously (last month being the latest).   However, this time it looks like they are getting down to the short strokes.   Look for them to open sometime this month.   Below; a couple sneak-prieviews of their soon-to-be switched-on neon.


                The Tip-Top Restaurant, previously located near Soi 22 on Sukhumvit Road, has found new digs at the bottom end of Soi Pan Pan on Soi Dead Artists.   Although well-appointed and clean, we didn't see any customers.   The Tip-Top people are not amateurs - there is certainly nothing we could teach them about location, location, location........

                The Vincent Van Gogh has long since taken it's rightful place in the annals of Soi Dead Artists history.   However, on those hallowed premises, the hammers and saws are now a-flying - it looks like there will be a new Nightspot opening there before the New Year.
    - File photo         

                This a for-the-archives shot of Sazanka Massage, a specialty massage of long standing - they must be doing something right.   

                Yet another "archives" shot of the Queen's Park Plaza - the obelisk at the left is, itself, a history of the Plaza - as most of the bars shown there have long since fallen headlong into the abyss.
       QUEEN'S  PARK  PLAZA  - SOI  22

      SOI  EDEN  
                The long-standing Down Under, closed last month when we passed by, were just playing 'possum (we were pretty sure they were - the TV wasn't removed indoors).   This month they have reopened with a flourish, and it looks like they picked up some new front-side neon in the interim.....   Let the nightgames continue.
      SOI  EDEN    SUKHUMVIT  SOI  7/1

                The Supermodel Host Bar and it's doppelganger, the Domon Club have quietly folded tent, disappearing as quietly as they appeared.   They were located 3rd floor, above the J Hong - the J Hong still doing a thriving business.

    - File photos         
      SOI  EDEN    SUKHUMVIT  SOI  7/1

                The small locs which were located adjacent to the long-renovating Future Boys have been removed, and the area is being prepped.   Unofficial word on the Soi is, the area is being developed into one or more outdoor bar beer(s).   -- However, as you know, these verbal rumors aren't worth the paper they are written on.....


    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  :
          Ten years ago, the Suzie Wong reopened after a one-month 'renovation'.   It is still operating at that location today.
    SOI  COWBOY -   2000

          A decade ago the Obsession closed for renovations.   It would eventually reopen, and remains at that location today.
    NANA  PLAZA -   2000

          The Icy Hot opened it's doors to the public a decade ago.   They took over from the Deeper, which closed a month earlier.   Those digs are now being occupied by the Bearbie.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4) -   2000

          A decade ago this month, Speed reopened, after a month in the sin-bin at the request of Bangkok's Finest.   It was located where today's Bearbie / Spanish On 4 are now located.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4) -   2000

    ASOKE  PLAZA  /  ASOKE  CORNER - (previously Cowboy Annex) - 2000

    Asoke Corner / Asoke Plaza
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( March 2000 - February 2005 )

                 New on the Nightscene this month, ten years ago, was the U-Turn bar beer, usurping the then defunct Tup Tim.

                  The Night Fever bar beer rolled the red carpet out over the ashes of the Lucky bar beer a decade ago, this month.

    ASOKE  PLAZA  /  ASOKE  CORNER - (previously Cowboy Annex) - 2000

    CLINTON  PLAZA   - 2000

    Clinton Plaza
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( November 1998 - 7 June 2003 )

          The White House A Go-Go bar, (Clinton Plaza's fourth) commenced operation this month, a decade ago.

          Ten years ago, the Doll House A Go-Go bar, (Clinton Plaza's fifth A Go-Go) rolled out the red carpet for the first time.   It would eventually open a second venue of that same name in Soi Cowboy, which survives today.

          The Candy Store, A Go-Go took over from Flowers A Go-Go , this month, ten years ago.   Flowers was Clinton Plaza's first A Go-Go.

          The Saloon Bar, located upstairs on the 2nd floor of the main building, called it quits ten years ago, this month, in Clinton Plaza.

    CLINTON  PLAZA   - 2000

    TOBACCO  ROAD   - 2000

    Tobacco Road (Soi Zero)
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( ~ October 1988 - 9 June 2006 )

          Ten years ago, Nui Lucky Bar bar beer appeared on the scene, after having changed it's name from "Lucky Luke" because of a conflict in names with the bar of that name in Nana Plaza.

    TOBACCO  ROAD  - 2000



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