he 1960's, 1970's and 1980's were simpler times - Bangkok's Expat Nightlife came and went in distinct, definable phases. Up until 1976 it was the "G.I. Era". Followed immediately by the "German Invasion Era" - when that nation first 'discovered' the Bangkok (and "P'taaaya") Nightlife Scene. That era was quickly followed by the "Arab Invasion" era lasting into the early 1980's. The Soi 7 Bier Garten was an early pioneer of the German Invasion in the late '70's.
The Bier Garten closed down for the final time, still showing both old and new signs.
The German Invasion wasn't just measured in numbers of tourist visas, they brought with them innovations that are, today, part and parcel of the Thailand Night Entertainment Scene. First, and most ubiquitous was the Bar Bier(Bar-Bier), which swept Pattaya before it became popular here in Bangkok. Only later came the anglicized spelling, "Beer Bar". Secondly, they introduced / popularized the Bier Garten (also later spelled, 'Beer Garden'). These Venues were, in part, actual outdoor gardens - the first BangkokNitespots to offer seating outdoors to enjoy the evenings and, of course, the 'passing parade'.
Latecomers to the Bangkok Scene have noted that the Soi 7 Bier Garten wasn't in fact a 'garden', however it was only in later years that the Bier Garten extended the roof from the rear kitchen area out to the frontage at Soi 7. There was also a second renovation which made the front area substantially shorter, moving the kitchen area forward. (Did we fail to mention they had a superb German menu? - Our choice being the roast pork with sauerkraut).
Few will deny the secret to the longevity of the Soi 7 Bier Garten was that it became, very early on, a freelancer favorite, where ladies of the evening could come in, and for the price of a drink (or not) find a companion for the night. This in turn, (no surprise) attracted more foreigners. In this regard, the Soi 7 Bier Garten was in direct competition with the Grace Hotel and the Thermae, although according to most punters, the Bier Garten freelancers were of a lower 'desirability'. According to those self-same punters, the late night Soi 7 Beer Garten (after the kitchen closed) was often referred to as "The Poor Man's Thermae".
From the '70's going forward, there were a number of Bier Gartens in Bangkok - as covered elsewhere in our issues, but the Soi 7 Bier Garten was the last-man-standing, the last of the real German Bier Gartens. Today, there are of course several Beer Garden style Venues, as well as some Venues calling themselves Beer Gardens, but are in fact beer bars. Conversely, the bier bars themselves have proliferated, to include a number of variations-on-theme - some bring in small pool tables, some bring in large TV for sports, and some will have live music, or even an A Go-Go girl dancing in a corner. But, regardless, the 'outdoor' experience in Bangkok's Night Entertainment Scene can be laid at the feet of the German Invasion of the '70's...
"Rick's Café Américain" from the set of Casablanca. Photo may be copyrighted.
READER :Been meaning to drop you an email for some time. Now is the time. My favorite movie is Casablanca. I always wanted to own a place like Rick’s Café, wear a white dinner jacket while rubbing elbows with interesting people as I romanced beautiful women. After my first trip to Thailand (1984), I decided that Land of Smiles was the place for such a venture. My second visit dispelled me of that dream. When you include photos of “Nightspots” from back in the day I realize that had I visited LOS 20 years earlier a Rick Café was a possibility. Then Thailand (Bangkok & Pattaya) was full of CIA types and just run of the mill spies, as the Vietnam War was in full swing. Thanks pal, look forward to each and every column.
MIDNITE HOUR:Your 'Rick's Café' comments are spot-on. Bangkok in the 50's and most the 60's was a (pre-A Go-Go) time of dinner-lounge-bars and live entertainment - often featuring well-known entertainers from abroad. It seems there were two levels of Nitespots with entertainment - the first tier was Venues like the Bamboo Bar at the Oriental, and Cesars and Sani Chateau at Gaysorn, and the Cafe de Paris across from Patpong, where one might in fact attend in a white dinner jacket. The second tier was Venues like Domino at Gaysorn, and the Keynote Club and Aladdin on the then-expanding Patpong, and Champagne Lounge, & The Balcony, and Garden Cafe in New Road. I saw some of that 'Old Bangkok' when I was here in '67, but (as it was with you) when I got back from Viet Nam in '75, there was a brand new, much changed Bangkok waiting for me... The 'Rick's Café Era' had surely passed into history.
Enjoyed "The Blues" post a couple of months back. I noticed you didn't include Pattaya, but then why should you, since you were doing the Bangkok scene? Offhand do you remember a great blues bar in South Pattaya from about ten years ago? Can't remember the name? Is there any chance it might still exist?MIDNITE HOUR:You are undoubtedly thinking of the Blues Factory on Walking Street. We found an old film photo (pre digital photos) in our cardboard boxes from 2015 - see above. The Blues Factory, a favorite of ours, often had well-known Bangkok rock bands (rocker Lam Morrison's, for example) playing there on weekends. It has, unfortunately, long ago closed it's doors.
The owner of the new Kinky Girl's A Go-Go (previously the The Strip Bangkok) asked if we do promotional work for bars. She was interested in letting the world know the Kinky Girl's was now open. I said we don't do commercial work but if she were to send us something, we could publish it in conjunction with our standard announcement of new Bangkok Venues. She sent us the below (and a lot more we couldn't publish...). Many of you may remember the new owner, she was previously the mamasan of The Strip Bangkok. Let the good times roll...
Video clip filmed by owner and forwarded to The Midnite Hour. Permission obtained to republish on Bangkok Eyes for promotional purposes only. Copyright remains with owner.
The young ladies took a black-light 'group selfie'... if that isn't a contradiction of terms...
The Octopus Fetish Club, having recently taken over from the crackdown-closed Bar Bar Fetish, now has signage announcing their whereabouts They may want to invest in a larger sign, though, this one's a bit hard to spot... Shake it, don't break it, gang...
When the Deja Vu closed down in February 2020 (a little more than a month prior to the Covid crackdown), they were 3 shophouses wide. When they reopened in September 2022, they gave up one lot on the left hand side - which remained vacant until this month. We were waiting for a new bar to eventually open in that real estate, but instead, this month the Kana Pure cannabis shop rolled out the red carpet. Smokin'....
The left half of what was once the Rawhide Lounge & Bar has been making attempts to renovate for last few months. This month, it looks like they've made some real progress. Too soon to know their name, but from the photo, it looks like "V"-something... We have tentatively called it V Bar (until the real name be known...)
It appears the Lighthouse will definitely not be returning - although smaller signs had previously been nailed up, a large sign now floats, and waves in the breeze in front of the establishment advertising for a new occupant.
A colorful photo of the always-busy Nana Plaza showing the entranceway, top-to-bottom, to include the roof (now handy in the current rainy season). Rock on...
We hit the Angel Witch the other evening, and were fortunate to have a brief chat with Joe Delaney. The bad news is the previous Delaney's on Patpong 2 won't be reopening. The good news is he has eventual plans to open another Delaney's, "But not on Patpong...."
The B.K. Bar, closed since the very beginning of the Covid lockdown has sprung from it's crypt and continues to march as if absolutely nothing has changed.... and it hasn't - all is status quo ante...
SOI NANA - (SOI 4 SUKHUMVIT)
Last month we noted that the Red Hog Bar had opened in the previous Blackout digs, but we were on the ground too early to get a pic of their new signage. Therefore : new signage photo below. ...Let the four winds blow...
SOI NANA - (SOI 4 SUKHUMVIT)
After a long Covid-induced break, the Asia Herb Association massage has reopened. For the time being, they are closing early in the evenings. Rub-a-dub-dub...
There were no new openings or closings on Soi Katoey (Silom Soi 4) this last month. It's 'Walking-Street' format has proven perpetually successful - they are often busy when other Night Entertainment Areas are quiet. This month we noted a number of Asian couples on the Soi.
In Sub-soi Lemongrass the Kiss Bar has replaced Kiss Bangkok massage, if in signage only. A 'wait-and-see' as to how the Nitespot will function on a day-to-day basis... Welcome them to partytown...
The Bebop Bar, opened newly last month, was closed when we passed by the other evening. It did have some new signage up (see below) but lights were out... We'll check back next round and get back atcha....
The Ola Ola located deep in Sub-soi Titanium (opened September 2022), has apparently been visited by the grim reaper. No signs of life. Wishing them greener grass...
The long-running Angel Bar bar bier at the top of the Soi has unceremoniously called it an evening. While we will keep an ear to the ground in the event of a reopening, for the present, we have deleted them from the inventory...
To allay any misunderstanding, 'Don't Be A Dick' is not the name of the bar. No one would name a bar that.... The name of the bar is Piss Stop. ...OK, on second thought... maybe Don't Be A Dick isn't that bad of a name for a bar... (We note it is a very popular mini-pool bar run by Big B.)
The RIP oral services bar had recently changed it's name to Rup when someone explained to them the meaning of RIP. But it didn't stave off the eventual visit by the undertakers. Located on Sub-soi Pan Pan. May they rest in peace...
Annie's World Famous Massage (or, perhaps 'infamous'?), recently reopened in Soi Eden after closing down in the Rajah Hotel (Soi 4 Sukhumvit) in February 2018. She had been in business there since 1972. This month we note she has expanded to two units and has spruced up the facade, to include some much needed exterior lighting (which also benefits the Soi in general.) May they continue to party.
As Bangkok'sNight Entertainment Scene continued to expand in the last half of the 1960's. it quickly became known internationally, attracting entertainers of note from the U.S. and other countries. Although there was less emphasis on the "other bar scene", it was also expanding at exponential rates, as could be seen on the Patpongs and New Petchburi Road.
The Sani Chateau brought Patti Page in from the U.S.A. for a single evening. A pop & country music artist, she was the best-selling female artist of the 1950's, selling over 100 million records over a career spanning 6 decades. ( Gaysorn Night Entertainment Area )
TheTropicana Club at the Rama Hotel, Silom Road, continued to be one of the more popular venues for live entertainment from abroad. Lucio and Rosita were "modern stylists" of Latin rhythm, popular in the U.S. in the 50's-60's when Calypso was all the rage.
The New Champagne Room continued to be among the popular "big"Nitespots featuring live entertainment in the New Road Night Entertainment Area. November 1966
November 1966 welcomed the opening of the upscale Cesars in Gaysorn. Note the "Jackets Please"... Headlining was Maurice Rocco on his return to Bangkok from extended gigs in Hong Kong. (Maurice was formerly the 'resident' entertainer at the Bamboo Bar (at the Oriental Hotel).
The New York Turkish Bath & Massage and the Progress Night Club were located at the far end of Petchburi Road Night Entertainment Area near the Soi Ekamai intersection. We surmise that for a few Baht more, they would have been able to retain a proof reader....
The Silver Star hosted Del Davidson & The Westernaires (also known as The Westernaires Orchestra) - a popular Country & Western group. This little-known Nitespot did not survive for long, being too far from the then-centers of Bangkok'sNight Entertainment.
Narcing Aguilar, one of 3 Aguilar siblings entertaining on the Bangkok circuit, was the 'house musician' at Domino, a popular Nightclub - Restaurant in the Gaysorn Night Entertainment Area. November 1966
The Aladdin continued to be one of the Patpong 1 live entertainment mainstays through the last half of the 1960's.
Although the soon-to-open Velvet Hammer wasn't a Bangkok Nitespot, it advertaised heavily in the Bangkok media.
a year previously in 1965, the Thai Room was one of the earliest live entertainment spots on Patpong 2 Road. (The other being the Other Office). Both of these Nitespots were located in the Plaza Hotel (now Pavilion Hotel). The Thai Room physically still exists, signs and all, but closed a few years ago, before Covid.
ACCTV camera photo-grab showing 3 females suspected to be involved in the recent tagging of over a half-dozen homes in Westfield, Massachusetts. The graffiti was spray-painted over a single weekend night. The female at the center of the above image appears to be carrying a can of spray paint. [ A female graff crew?!What's the world coming to...? ]Westfield Police are requesting assistance in identifying the culprits. (Photo courtesy MassLive.com)
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 photographs or artwork resides exclusively with the creators.
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 creators.
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....