This month the Midnight Hour will attempt to catch up on our very old promise to review the "lesser Sukhumvit sois". In that Soi's 18 and 20 have an connecting soi and large hotels with exits on either, we thought it best to cover both in one sweep. We had done preliminary visits in the past to each of these Soi's however it was a number of years ago - and, we find, we had a lot of catching up to do.
We first surveyed Koi in 2006 - not long after it had opened. Very little has changed - it is still a popular multi-venue, and still attracts a number of single, fair-haired mem-farang.
SOI 20 - (Sukhumvit)
As with other Lower-Sukhumvit sois having a selection of hotels of various sizes (and these days, which DON'T ?), most of the Night Entertainment Venues on Soi 18 & Soi 20 are Massage Parlors.
And, as can be anticipated, most of the Nitespots can be found closer to Sukhumvit Road than deeper in the Sois. But this is not always the case (see Map above).
The Butterfly Massage is located on Soi 18 about half way down, on the left, and offers the standard 'ambiguous' format.
SOI 18 - (Sukhumvit)
Naturally, we at Midnight Hour were keeping an eye toward whether Soi 18 and Soi 20 could be considered Night Entertainment Areas, either singly or together. However neither the quantity (critical mass) nor the distribution (contiguous) of the Nitespots indicated these sois were capable of sustaining, or encouraging, a steady stream of expat night revellers. The Nitespots on these two Sois are, for the most part, patronized by nearby hotel guests and residents, and the occasional long-term expat resident.
The Smooth Touch Thai Body Massage is located deep into the Sois, and is in a relatively new structure on the small soi connecting Soi 18 with Soi 20 (refer to Map). The Smooth Touch is a more 'legitimate' massage parlor, and (for the most part) serves the hotels and condos / apartments in the immediate vicinity.
SOI 18 - 20 - (Sukhumvit)
Both Soi 18 and Soi 20 are a mix of types of Nitespot Venues, and with the ever-increasing tourism in Thailand (over the long view) it will be incumbent upon us to keep an eye, periodically, on this area of Sukhumvit. However it is unlikely either Soi will become an independent Night Entertainment Area in the immediate future.
The English sign reads Zen Thai (the same name as another massage parlor deep in Soi 18), however, the Thai name reads 1 Zen Thai Massage. It is located in the little side-Soi at the top of Soi 20 - and as can be seen from the Map, directly behind 2 Zen Thai Massage. Both reliable establishments.
SOI 20 - (Sukhumvit)
Nevertheless, if you are looking for a change of pace - to something a little quieter than many of you are used to, a visit to the several Soi 18 & Soi 20Nitespots - not to mention quite a few excellent restaurants - is well in order.
Shag Bar 2 is, of course, the sister bar to Soi 22's original Shag Bar (still in operation). It is also located in the dog-leg side soi at the top of Soi 20. Also in that same side-Soi is yet another branch of Top Secret (photo not displayed). We were surprised at the number of people who patronize the Nitespots in this side-Soi.
As a keen reader of your site, I wanted to introduce myself. I'm R. from London and am currently in Bangkok, my favourite place in Asia.
I am also writing a book (yes, another one hopefully for the shelves of Asia Books). ........ The first few drafts are finished but I'm currently rewriting it and was wondering if you knew anyone here that would be willing to have a chat with me to give me some insights into the more depraved goings on of Patpong, Nana, etc. over the years.
Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.
Thanks for reading and for writing in. First of all, wish you luck on writing the book. However, I feel we would first have to get a handle on what your personal definition, your perception, of "more depraved" is. Most of Bangkok's "old hands" here don't see what goes on in the bars or the Nightscene in general as depraved, however, stay-at-home North Americans and Europeans would see a lot of what goes on as depraved.
For example, many see homosexual prostitution as depraved, while many see themselves as "enlightened" and see nothing wrong with homosexuality in any form. Most would agree that pedophilia is depraved. Many do not see consensual prostitution as depraved, however virtually all see forced prostitution as depraved - as well as illegal : a form of slavery, rape and kidnapping. Many others see any form of prostitution as moral and social depravity.
In Bangkok, however, most old hands don't see blow-job bars as depraved, or having short-time rooms upstairs in the bars as depraved. But they do see underaged prostitution as depraved. But this gets tricky: in spite of a very specific Thai law governing this, you would be surprised at the wide range of definitions of "underaged" various individuals in Bangkok harbor. Some say 14 is too young, some say 15 is too young, some say 16 is too young, etc, etc. - often, depravedly speaking, depending on the age of their own daughters....
The current buzz-word here in Bangkok, as well as a large part of the rest of the planet, is "Human Trafficking" - and anything having to do with this (relative to the sex trade) is now considered by many to be depraved.
Many consider Bangkok's S&M bars as depraved, others see the S&M bars as a form of interactive show bar, and nothing to write home about.
Let me know more specifically what approach you might be taking to which subjects, and I will try to comment further as to where and when it occurred in the Bangkok Nightscene over the years.
The upstairs show bar Show Girls has, by virtue of an invitation they couldn't refuse, reverted to their correct name : Queen Bar (Queen's Castle I). It is unlikely they wll be getting any new neon, however....
Last month we noted that the upstairs Night Bar was likewise required to revert to their registered name, Queen II (Queen's Castle II). Below, as promised, is a photo of their current signage - hopefully only temporary.... Note: an interesting spelling in Thai : "Queen Clastle 2". Second note: The black and white sign at the lower left says they only allow members - obviously meant only for keeping Thais out.....
A photo for the archives ; an update of the signage of the Asia Herb Association spa. Note the pricing - likely to discourage the steam & cream crowd....
We earlier noted the Angel Witch 2 had closed (June 2014) and reopened a month later - but what we didn't know was - there was a new lessee, and a name change in the cards. This month the new neon has been nailed up - and everything looks just fine..... London Calling is the best of the best, sign-wise, this month.... Welcome them to the neon jungle.....
Last month the Voodoo became the Hoodoo (see last month's photo). However the Hoodoo was, for whatever reason, stillborn. This month, it's back to "Voodoo". We will let you know what it is next month..... Welcome them back to the fray.
Last month we noted the ex- Lone Star Saloon A-Go-Go on the 3rd floor was under the hammer and saw, prepping for what appeared to be a reopening. We noted that it looked like it might be either one, or two new bars based on the new partitioning wall. This month we noted yet another partitioning wall - so it leaves open the possibility of three separate venues (!?)....again, we'll just have to wait and see.....
We noted last month the closure of the Melodies U K Bar, and we were concerned it would be permanent. Fortunately for all regulars, it has reopened - status quo ante. Let the good times roll....
The M Bar is down but not out.... Located in Soi Big Mango. They have posted a sign out front advising they are currently renovating. We'll keep an ear to the ground and advise on their reopening.
The After Dark, closed in April of this year, has been sitting idle, the chattel within poised for a reopening. Located in the Rajah Hotel compound. This month we note that the Paradise has taken over the reins and should be opening right about....... now.
The Balcony has for some time "possessed" the sidewalk across the soi from their venue (in front of the old Rome Club), however now they are also occupying the downstairs portion of the interior of the building. They keep adding on like the Hearst Castle......
Cheers has gone the way of the Pelagornithidae. It had not done well after the building owners dropped a 'facade' over the top half of their venue, making it almost invisible from the street. May they find greener pastures....
SOI 22 - (Sukhumvit)
Just across the street from the Imperial Queen's Park Hotel is a small commercial complex - currently under construction. It appears that there will be Night Entertainment Venues with upstairs balconies for your entertainment pleasure. Let's see what they are doing this time next month....
SOI 22 - (Sukhumvit)
Po Thai Massage has closed up shop, however we suspect they will be reopening in the near future. We'll keep an eyeball peeled and get back atcha.....
The Nyan Nyan Massage has closed up shop in the S 33 Compact Hotel and moved across the street into the recently closed Baron / The Club digs. Keep on keeping on.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS - SOI 33
L B Club Mitu is readying itself to occupy the former New Club Fushicho - and looks like it could open it's doors this month (barring the usual tradesman headaches). Located on the ground floor in the S 33 Compact Hotel.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS - SOI 33
The Lookie Lookie Gallery Bar, located in Soi Wall Street, has closed it's doors for good. It opened originally in November of 2003 (having taken over the reins from the Mondrian). It will, according to our sources on the street, make way for the extension of the Wall Street Bar.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS - SOI 33
The Ikemen 33, on the 3rd floor and the downstairs Japanese Karaoke (at the rear of 33 Complex) have closed and are looking for new tennants. May the fates deal them a better hand next time 'round.
The Wax Late , being a late night venue (10:00 pm - late) felt the pressure of the curfew and took advantage of the downtime to make extensive renovations - lasting almost two months. They have now reopened, having jumped back into the action, so to speak, with the same club /disco format. They are also bringing in 'name' disc jockeys on the weekends. Let 'er rip, then, gentlemen....
The brand new Hand Out has taken over where Crossed Pistons Saloon held court (up until this last month). We can expect the Hand Out to have some new neon nailed up before month's end..... Welcome them to partytown.
The Sip Song Bar has added some new neon to their facade - which is easier to see from the top of the Soi. Let the rock continue to rock.... (For you Thai speakers, this Sip Song does not equal 12......)
Bangkok Eyes goes back in time to see
Who was new - And who was through
in the Expat Night Entertainment world.
How many of these old 'oases'
do you remember ?
*Max's Bar opened up in the then-recently closed down Yellow Bar. Located on the 2nd floor, above today's Thigh Bar. Today, those digs are home to an unnamed rip-off bar.
* The upstairs (2nd fl) Suzie Wong expanded it's name, becoming Queen's Castle 2 - Suzie Wong - ( no relation to Soi Cowboy'sSuzie Wong). Located adjacent to, and above SuperStar, the Queen's Castle 2 still remains (after numerous brief closings and reopenings).
* No changes that month / year.
* The Long Gun officially took over from the Lucky Star a month previously. However, the authorities apparently caught up with them, so they changed it to Lucky Star - Long Gun. It currently still operates under both names.
* No changes that month / year.
Soi Katoey(Silom Soi 4)
* No changes that month / year.
Buckskin Joe Village(~ March 1988 - 9 June 2006)
(Also known -originally- as Tobacco Road or Soi Rot Fai, and later as Machim [Thai] and Soi Zero)
[ Having just reached Critical Mass 20 years ago, Bangkok Eyes first included this Night Entertainment Area in our monthly survey. -ed ]
Sexy Night Det 5
Cedar Bar (Closed?)
Up Country Bar
Shopper Bar (sic - Chopper - )
Havana Restaurant Bar
Graffiti, almost as ubiquitous as outdoor advertising, but not nearly as repulsive, is nearly everywhere you look. And if you have perceived an increasing wave of graffiti in recent years, you would be correct. - And the tide is still coming in.
The video outtakes shown here and below are from Spray Daily (spraydaily.com), a pro-graffiti website. The seven-minute video is of heavy graffiti activity in and around the train yards in Italy.
While graffiti has been with us since the cave man, the last few years have seen an exponential explosion of graffiti. With it, there has been an exponential gushing of publicity and opinion. And in this modern day and age, this tsunami of publicity and opinion on all things graffiti comes primarily from 3 sources - newspapers, television and the Internet. And most of what comes to us through newspapers and television is recapped on their own newspaper and TV Internet sites. The difference, of course, is that graffiti, or news about graffiti, which ends up on the Internet will stay there indefinitely, where yesterday's TV news (or feature), and yesterday's newspapers are, well, 'yesterday's newspapers'. The Internet has unquestionably become the 'force multiplier' when it comes to publicizing so-called 'street art'.
But the newspaper and TV Internet sites are not the only graffiti sites out there in this, our etherial wilderness. There are enough independent dedicated Internet graffiti sites out there to choke a horse. The Midnight Hour not included. And we have noticed that the various Internet sites, all inclusive, fall into three basic categories : Anti-Graffiti websites, the so-called Graffiti Reporting & Features sites and Pro-Graffiti sites.
The Anti-Graffitisites are virtually all the same - each warning that graf vandals are law-breakers - and punishment could include stiff fines and possible jail time (true). There is always the hint, the implied warning, that graffiti is gang-related and is spread by immature, maladjusted youth, and is the primary contributor to their urban blight. And then, there are the outrageous claims of costs to the various municipalities to clean up graffiti. One documentary recently stated that London, England spends 1 Billion Pounds Sterling per year to clean up graffiti. We are not saying that the Administrators in the capitol city of London are full of a common barnyard material commonly used to make plants grow, but we hereby make a counter-offer to the city of London - we will clean up your graffiti for 100 Million Pounds Sterling per year, and we hereby guarantee we will do a better job. OK, then, over to you, London.....
Graffiti Reporting & Featureswebsites, as mentioned above, are for the most part the Internet arm of either newspapers or TV stations / cable news outlets, and usually toe the line on the evils of graffiti vandalism, with an occasional feature on graffiti being put under the gavel at a major auction house, or being shown at a prominent art gallery, or political graffiti deemed newsworthy in some war-torn nation somewhere on the planet.
However, the lion's share of graffiti websites is of the Pro-Graffiti ilk, and they come in all flavors. Graf websites, in addition to displaying the latest spraycan vandalism in their own districts as well as elsewhere on the planet, are also involved in direct marketing : selling spraycan paint, sometimes in bulk, along with various nozzles to fit on those spraycans. Also for sale are graffiti coffee table books, zines, graf posters, items of silk-screened clothing -usually T-shirts and hoodies for the hip-hop crowd (this is a partial list only). Not to mention the publishing of personality profiles of local and international "graf stars". They solicit photographic contributions from graffiti artists (show us what you got), and advertise upcoming graffiti-related 'street events'.
Further, running just below the surface, and this is what has been going unsaid, GRAFFITI HAS GONE COMMERCIAL - and we are not speaking here of those 1% who are able to sell their pieces -or reproductions of their pieces- at auction houses, or show their pieces in respected museums of art. Reproductions of graffiti pieces marketed on the Internet appear on a wide range of street paraphernalia, such as skateboards, et al. They inspire tattoos (which, commercially, only benefit the tattoo artist). There are organized big-money events sponsoring graf crew spray-down competitions, with winning crews receiving various and substantial prizes; there are sponsored mixed graffiti/ skateboard/ modern-breakdancing 'events' drawing thousands of competitors, wannabes and spectators........... Many 'legitimate' artists are now seeing the commercial advantage in 'admitting' that they were, or still are graffiti artists, while, contrarily, many graffiti artists are now being contracted to produce their brand of 'street art' as part of legitimate advertising campaigns. As mentioned in our earlier articles, many townships in North America and Europe are now providing "legal walls" for graf artists to spray their hearts -and venom- out (which, in theory, would save the various municipalities big bucks on clean-up activities). Several major newspapers have created "Graffiti In The News" categories for graffiti and graffiti features - Googleable, of course. Graffiti artists are now being brought in by virtually all the major film studios to produce their 'urban blight' at strategic filming locations. -And where, curiously, the movie moguls are requiring graf artists to sign copyright waivers- hey, when in doubt, follow the lawyers....
Like it or not, art's red-headed stepchild, that in-your-face love/ hate thing sometimes referred to as art brut, street art, or 'the withered arm of modern art', is becoming more 'legitimate' by the day.....
- And now to Midnight Hour's own brand of BangkokGraffiti ....
7 ft high x 22 ft
8 ft high x 9 ft
6 ft high x 9 ft
8 ft high x 17 ft
6 ft high x 18 ft
6 ft high x 13 ft
6 ft high x 19 ft
Graffiti,Graffiti , and more Graffiti -
Bangkok's original graffiti Site !
The MIDNITE HOURGraffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor"Boge" Hartman .
(Boge's photo, above, is not a graffitiper-se, although there are those who have insinuated....