Ever since the Hawaiian Islands became a get-away holiday destination there has been an active Night Entertainment Scene. And as with any other city on the planet, the Night Entertainment in Honolulu self-segregated into 'uptown' and 'across-the-tracks'. In Honolulu, the 'across-the-tracks' Nitespots tended to center around Chinatown. As the world's 'Chinatowns' go, perhaps the first and seminal "Chinatown" (outside of China itself) was Honolulu's very own, having first been called by that name in 1870. (Singapore and Penang the possible exceptions.)
Bar 35, although having an unnoticeably small sign, is one of the more popular old bars in Old Chinatown.
Honolulu's Chinatown, however, had its growing-pains, and a number of times throughout its history it almost didn't 'make it through to the other side'. It was decimated by the bubonic plague, and nearly burned to the ground - not once, but twice. But its most severe 'ravaging' was at the hands of U.S. servicemen during and just after the Second World War. During that time it became the focal point of Honolulu's red-light district, offering all that conceivably could be imagined - to include caves being re-purposed as underground (no pun intended) opium dens - oh, yes, they thought of everything. ('Law-and-Order', as it was, was co-managed by head-busting Shore Patrol - Military Police joint-patrols, and the local cop shop), Should you want to gamble, Chinatown was the Islands' gambling den (and was likely solely responsible for gambling -of any sort- being outlawed in the State). As such, Chinatown was not Honolulu's 'Poster Child' for Night Entertainment, and it is no surprise the area's structures would eventually begin falling into disrepair.
Chinatown's history is rich, complex and fascinating, and a full account of its often peculiar, often humorous twists and turns is far, far beyond the scope of this undertaking. Nevertheless, while in recent times, enlightened Metropolitan management has endeavored to preserve much of its history, there are a few other less savory historical items which also cannot remain unreported : > > >
Rarely seen in Honolulu's history books, Smith Union was (for the uninitiated) not a Chinatown union. It was a cluster of buildings overseen in its wildest days (out of a 75 year history) by a Madam Mamie Stover and had a sole purpose - to 'service the fighting man'. Yes, you understood that correctly. Smith Union employed on average 200 women from (so say uprighteous Hawaiians) 'The Mainland', who worked these brothels - taking home US$40,000 a year. The mamasans (I guess they call them 'madams' here in Hawaii) made on average US$150,000 - or at least that's what their income tax returns said... *Yes, they paid taxes on earnings - decades before Nevada ever thought of legalization of such activities...
A billboard in Chinatown provides an insight into the large and diverse Entertainment Scene.
Nevertheless, when the ladies-of-the-evening at Smith Union began thinking that they were a 'Union', they got their heads together and began demanding $4 a pop (up from $3). Management, of course, refused, and in August of 1942 they went on strike for 22 days. The Police Chief finally had to step in and nip all that in the bud, stating firmly, "The price of meat is still $3." The ladies did, however get the OK to roam outside the Chinatown area to ply their trade.
Above, we noted that Chinatown survived the bubonic plague and two separate razings by fire. The second, in 1900, was initially 41 separate 'controlled burns' started by the Honolulu City government to rid the suburb of the bubonic plague. High winds took care of the rest, and after 17 days of holocaust, 38 acres of Chinatown were toast, accounting for the destruction of over 4000 homes. (Later, 14 additional, more closely monitored, fires were lit to clean up loose ends.) - And it worked ! - no more plague.
Today, renovations and restorations continue; a part of Chinatown has even been designated the Historic Area. A number of historic buildings are now designated 'heritage sites' complete with their own historic bronze plaques. But there is more going on than just the city government stepping in : an equal amount of local entrepreneurial investment is going into refurbishing and opening new Nitespots and restaurants. Honolulu's Chinatown is paralleling big-time Singapore's 'revitalization' of its Clark Quay / Singapore River areas.
Honolulu Metropolitan authorities have flipped the paradigm - they have employed a number of graffiti artists to create murals to 'liven up' (as opposed to cheapen down) the East Chinatown / Kakaako area - and it is working... Next month Bangkok Eyes will give full coverage to this 'graffitification' (the local's term...) in our Graffiti section.
While Chinatown won't eclipse the Night Entertainment Scene in and around Waikiki / Ala Moana any time soon (Ala Moana Shopping Center currently lists 30 Nitespots within the shopping area alone), it is rapidly gaining in popularity with the locals. But (no surprise) visitors are also now 'discovering the scene'. It is too early to say how far the Chinatown revitalization will go. But should development stop in its tracks right this minute (it won't) Chinatown is already 'on the map' again, and visitors to these balmy shores should plan, at least once, to 'Get Down Tonight' when the sun goes down.
Hi Guys, A friend of mine has been to Hua Hin recently and mentioned me the WTF Bar as being a great club. Do you know where it is located and what kind of bar is it? Thanks.
Greetings and thanks for writing in. On receiving your email, we realized that it had been two years since we had been to Hua Hin. (Much too long). Hua Hin has two major bar areas : Soi Bintabat (and surrounds), and Soi 80, (see our 2017 maps here <link>). As of our last survey, we did not come across the WTF Bar, however it will most likely be found in one of these two areas, both of which are worth exploring. Good luck on your quest.
I came across your Bangkok Eyes site again after a long time, and it brought back memories. My first time to the 'Big Mango' was in 1999 or 2000 on a business trip, and was last there recently in 2016. The articles on your site, like the '50-year roundup' <link> in 2019, are quite informative. I will doubtless be spending quite a few hours going through selected archived articles, and area maps.
Many thanks for the support. We find that a large percent of our readers are previous visitors / residents now living outside of Thailand. We hope to create a permanent archive of Bangkok's 'ongoing Nightlife history'.
I still love your site, tell everyone there to keep up the good work! One thing though; I don't have Internet service at my apartment and I don't like to use my smartphone to view your monthly blog (very small screen to view very big subject). What I normally do is save an instance of your webpage as a single archive file in MS Internet Explorer. I then carry to my place on a thumb drive and download it from there. Since you copy protected the pics, I can download a file but the images are gone when I download to my computer.
This (and similar queries) is/ are becoming a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) - since last month when we put reminders up that Copyrighted material is not in the Public Domain. -Note- we, however, do recommend downloading for personal use - as also explained last month. (Or write to us, and we can send individual photos for personal not-for-profit use). The easiest way to make a copy of Bangkok Eyes site is to highlight the entire site, or part that you want to copy, with the mouse. Then right click and select 'Copy'. 'Then Paste' this into an email to yourself and send it. Make sure you have first configured your browser & email (Gmail, Yahoo, Internet Explorer, etc.) to specifically allow for downloading of photos / graphics, as this is not a 'default' setting on many platforms. This, then, can be copied by whatever means you are using to get it onto your memory stick.
The above photos of Howie were submitted by him, who we regret to report, is wandering through the streets in Jesus-sandals, the kind with tire-tread soles, a tattered Reyn-Spooner Hawaiian shirt and a backward-pointing MAGA baseball cap. ...No wait, that's me... Howie, on the other hand, pens the world's primo English language Internet boxing column, bar none, and haunts high places in Las Vegas.Copyright : DartsThailand.com.
Couldn't sleep so up at 3:15 a.m. to check out Midnight Hour. Saw that my short question on Trink got answered. You mentioned the first Thailand Darts Open 1984. I missed that but played in Thailand Open II in 1985. A gentleman named Bill Marsden was behind it providing the money. It was held at the best hotel in Pattaya with less than 30 people. Bill would die in 1985 after closing "Yow Coffee Shop" on Soi City Hall (Pattaya) which is now Soi 6. Bill's wife "Yow" was an excellent dart player and, with Suree Bizell, made frequent trip to the USA to play. Those tournaments were run by Dave Bizell and Tom Penn who were military advisor's assigned to the US Embassy in Bangkok. The other photo, below, is of our four person team - me in front (but of course), the late Dick Park (Phoenix, Arizona), Richard Halewyck (a Frenchman, who at the time owned Net Bar in Pattaya, and now lives in Mācon, France, where he judges wine tastings), and the late BJ (Bobby Joe) Clark who passed away a few years ago living in Southern California. The above photos are from the last Thailand Open I attended and ran in 2010. Knew you'd like the attire - more class than Pattaya deserved. Oh yes, and I got stiffed for my fee...
Really appreciate your writing in - this is a seamless continuation of our last month's write-up on the beginnings of 'darts in Thailand' - which we confess we have ignored for far too long... Many of the long term residents and returnees to these shores will recall the colorful characters in your missive and photos. As the contributor noted last issue, the 'darts scene' provided many an expat the opportunity to see Thailand's Night Entertainment in much greater scope (not that they didn't do their share of prowling when they weren't playing darts...).
Last month Shenanigans put out the word that their Flares Disco had their 'soft opening'. We faithfully went down, and saw the wraps had come off the new Nitespot, and it appeared to be fully decked out ready to do battle, but... the doors were locked. We saw no signs indicating hours of operation, no signs up saying they were hiring staff. Well, OK, give them the benefit of the doubt. But that was a month ago, this is now - and we have seen no change. The doors are still locked - and we see no signage indicating they are open. If and when it opens, really opens, we'll give you a come-back.
The gay Sweet Bannana, having opened its doors only in April of this year, have already tanked. They were closed up like Alcatraz when we passed by the other evening. It seems the boy bars are not doing well on Patpong 1, however they seem to have carved out a piece of Patpong 2, and apparently are doing well.
Because the 2nd level Shenanigans Sports Club can be accessed by a small spiral staircase from Shenanigans Pub, we assumed it was an adjunct to the pub itself. Nope, it is a separate Nitespot, and the entrance is on the other side of the building, and most easily accessed from Patpong 2. On another note, seeing all those blue pool tables, we couldn't help but wonder if they were left-overs from the Red Parrot from a few years ago.... May they continue to roll.
Not much going on in Nana Plaza since the flash opening-closing of New Voodoo over the last 2 months. Which, by the way, where the New Voodoo sign was previously nailed up - is now a very conspicuous black space. Hmmmm... A pic 'For The Archives'.
The tiny Lannana has sprung from its crypt after a month's absence. -But with a change: it was a lounge bar, and now it is a bar / snack bar (but still keeps few lively hostesses) (?). Welcome them back to the neon jungle...
The Starlight Bar has rung up its last 'check-bin' - if those on the street know what they are talking about. They were located on the ground floor of the Rajah Hotel outbuilding. Hey, look on the bright side, maybe they found a way out from under it all... It doesn't look like there are any new tenants rushing in to fill the void... There is a lot of vacant real estate in the Rajah compound, and the place has not been filling up with shops and bars - some say the Rajah has unrealistic expectations regards the value of their rental units...
The Dive Massage has taken over lock, stock and KY from the Sensual Massage. May they continue to slip and slide. Located deep in the Lemongrass sub-soi just past the Marriott Hotel.
The NangMery Massage & Coffee has taken over the reins of the very-short-lived Big Man Bar & Cafe. Well, at least it appears they salvaged the coffee pot... We wonder if the NangMery is any relation to the old NokMery's that populated Cowboy Annex and then Queen's Park Plaza? May the NangMery be dealt all aces and faces...
Gone, but not gone, The Connection Bar was just taking a short holiday last month, but now they are back, pedal to the metal. Y'all can come back now...
What was originally Miss BJ Massage became Miss BS Massage. Last month it also went down the drain, only to be replaced by Miss Beauty. (Its still a 'massage' - at least in part.) Welcome to the Big Uphill.
The Thai Candy Massage has been absorbed by its next door neighbor, Absolute Bangkok Massage. Located in Sub-soi Hana (the second small soi past the Marriott..) Just more Musical Chairs in these back sois... the massage parlor names change monthly...
The Longhorn BJ Bar & Massage is nearing completion in Sub-soi Lemongrass
. They should be fully operational by month's end... We'll keep an ear to the ground, and get back atcha.
Veteran soi-crawler (now semi-retired) Joe H. (you know who you are) was first off the mark - the first to 'put a label on' a relatively new Nighttime phenomenon - "The Instagram Girl". Below is our mutilated recollection of his revelations...
Oh, those'Instagram Girls' !
ITS THE NEW MOTHER NATURE TAKING OVER *
"Soi 11 is becoming a real 'Party Soi'. The Oskar being a prime example - it has a goodly number of lady customers, to include its fair share of those recently-minted semi-riep-roy part-time up-market freelancers, looking for that well-heeled farang that will take them to Singapore or elsewhere for a few days. They stay in nice hotels, and go to nice places, all the while providing opportunities for those "Instagram Moment" selfies in the Shangrila Hotel gardens, etc, etc, that they post up to their girlfriends - and the rest of the world..."
* Credits, somewhat out of context, to "The Guess Who", of course
Last month we noted that the Market Rooftop was about to open. This month they are open and serving beer and food, and what-else... Located upstairs (2nd level) at the Hemingway. Welcome them to partytown.
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
The Yadong Potion bar beer has taken over the reins from the Ice Bar (formerly and originally The Vagabond). Welcome to the trail of tears... Located at the end of Soi Havana Social. BTW, if you are new to these alluvial plains, feel free to drink their booze, but you would do well to avoid their ya dong...
Nutz & Booze, the tiny bar beer adjacent to the Baan Beer is no more. The Baan Beer knocked the dividing wall out and expanded into their digs. With all the expanding and renovating the Baan Beer is doing, its almost like they hadn't heard all the renewed rumors of impending closure of the QPP... Come to think of it, we haven't heard much about it this month, either... Hmmmm..
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
The White Bar, unquestionably the best bar beer in the QPP has pulled the plug. Greener grass, ladies...
The 33 Club, closed for a couple of months now, remains in darkness, but we did notice some furious daytime renovations going on. We don't want to get out ahead of our headlights on this - definitely a "wait-and-see" item...
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 ?
* The King's Castle II was closed for renovations. It is still at that location today.
* The open-sided live music venue Muzzik Cafe opened newly. It is still at that location today.
* No changes that month / year.
* The Dubbel Dutch opened newly in the just-closed Big Blue 1. (How many of you long-term residents and long-time return visitors remember either of those two bars?) Those digs are currently home to Fanny's.
* The second level open-fronted Beer Conner Pub Karaoke (sic) 'closed its doors'. Today Straps occupies those premises.
Soi Katoey ( Silom Soi 4 )
*Body Star Pub & Restaurant, while remaining open, was no longer a pub or a restaurant.
* The Japanese NitespotEdoya closed. Today those digs are occupied by The Adam massage.
* The long-running Helene's Place closed its doors for renovations. Today those digs remain unoccupied.
Buckskin Joe Village (~ December 1988 to December 2006)
(Also known -originally- as Tobacco Road or Soi Rot Fai or, 'The Tracks', and later as Machim [Thai] and Soi Zero)
* The U & I Bar closed for renovations.
*Species Bar & Internet opened newly next door to yet another 'new bar beer' yet unnamed.
Washington Square (~ April 1999 to April 2014)
* No changes that month /
(Was ''Entertainment Plaza'')
[ February 1999to May 2003 ]
*Tonwa Bar - NEW (ex: Porn Tory) - Against main bldg.-
''13 Night Market'' Entertainment Area"
(Was 'Old Thermae Compound')
[ October 1999 - February 2005 ]
We note the dual Copyright on the photo - artist & photographer. Well done...
This is an "Almost Rags-To-Riches" story - 'Stik' started his graffiti days and nights in 2001 operating out of a London hostel for the homeless, dodging the authorities while he spraycanned and brushed his unique style of vandalism onto London's public and private surfaces.
Obviously this is not the work of local midnight vandals - public murals posing as 'graffiti' are at once attractive (at least, much of the time), and slightly pretentious - as they attempt to 'cash in' on the 'edginess' that connotes actual graffiti.
Stik's original spray can outings were largely confined to his home territory of Hackney (East London), during which time he honed his unique artistic style, which would, of course, include the adoption of 'socially conscious' themes - not uncommon among graff artists past and present.
The mini-mural of the sleeping child at a local London hospital has received much acclaim.
As time passed, he found that some of those chasing after him were not trying to arrest him for vandalism, but instead, commission him to paint murals. Many of these commissioned pieces were not only outside of Hackney, but outside of England - patrons were paying him to travel abroad to put up his unique stick figure murals. This meant, 'hard money'; this meant no more homeless-hostel living...
A typical example of a Stik mega-mural in an urban setting.
But, as they say, "Business is business"... While Stik refuses to talk about his earlier life on the street, or to take off his dark glasses, he is now an entirely commercial enterprise-of-one(although to retain street-cred he also claims to throw up the occasional 'unauthorized' piece). He has even adopted the full-blown artsy-fartsy bloviatings of the 'artiste'; "The dots (I use) for eyes show the vulnerability of the human condition...". Hey, whatever puts food on the table....
Life has been good for Stik, and not only by way of his commissioned non-aggressive stick figures which currently dot the urban landscapes of our planet. He now has his own studio in his hometown where he teaches youngsters the ways of 'graffiti art' (and, perhaps, how to monetize it...). And has aligned himself with a number of graff organizations and art galleries. His most recent piece brought in a whopping £150,000 at auction (Watch out, Banksy!), and he (and his works) have been featured in a number of mainstream publications. ...Goes to show you never can tell...
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered, under current legal precedents and
prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original artwork and photographs resides exclusively with the creators.
12 ft high x 11 ft (top+lower)
Red Baron's Boy
6 ft high x 6 ft
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered,
under current legal precedents and
prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original artwork resides exclusively with the artists.
Bangkok's original site !
The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman.
(Boge's photo, above, is not a graffitiper-se, although there are those who have insinuated....