Thailand Nightlife Roundup
A few months ago, I decided to close the dean-barrett-thailand.com site and open this one. That one had lots of broadband (and when it got popular and I went over my allotment it cost me money), this one will have some broadband, but more text. The purpose of this site is not to compete with such informative and excellent sites as Stickman or Baron Bonk, etc., but to offer rants, tirades, opinions and discussion about books on Thailand, give an overview of nightlife in Thailand and, yes, to provide a few news items which might not appear elsewhere. And to have some fun.
Bar, club and restaurant owners who would like to send material on their special events, birthday bashes, anniversary parties, etc., are welcome to do so but please remember men in Thailand are a bit jaded so if you’re just going to offer the usual free gourmet food and free full band entertainment and free beautiful and eager-to-please women, well, the lads have been there, done that. So do try to offer potential patrons something special. ;-)
There will be a contest every two weeks when this column appears (effective 1 Feb. 2005) and the first to answer the question correctly will receive a free book written by myself and other prizes. But be patient: I don't even know what the question is yet. I do know that the prizes will build up in case anyone doesn't win it immediately so the bonanza for the eventual winner could get quite interesting.
The Cave Bar, the S&M bar on Sukhumvit soi 33, has changed its name to Demonia "The Fetish Club." Whatever it calls itself it has been open now for, what, maybe three years? Time passes, whips and handcuffs need to be replaced, spike heels on boots wear out, customers needing to give or to take punishment leave town, subs and doms move on and new ones have to be trained. Things were apparently getting wild upstairs before the police raid closed the upstairs entirely (“I gave commands – all smiles ceased altogether” - Robert Browning).
Fortunately, the bar continues on and the folks running it – French, I believe – have opened the Castle Bar on third ring road in Pattaya. Can’t find it? Just ask a motorcycle driver on Walking Street to take you to the popular Buffalo Bar. Have a drink at the interesting Buffalo Bar and then mosey over next door to the Castle. Same as the Cave – ring the bell, don a threadbare black jacket, agree to pay 900 baht for the first beer, and in you go. Don't let the sound of whips cracking put you off.
The thing I don’t understand about the Cave Bar, sorry, I mean, Demonia, is its advertising in the Bangkok Post and in the Nation. It says “the first fetish bar in Bangkok.” OK, fine, although Chateau Jade was and still is the real thing when it comes to a House of Domination. And it says “The place where you can dream, invent, and fantasize.” That sounds more than a bit like the Bush White House but never mind that. But then it lists “The Mistress Night” and “The Corset Night.” But what does that mean exactly? If I go on The Mistress Night does it mean there will be no women wearing corsets? And if I go on The Corset Night does it mean there will be no Mistresses? Is this either/or?
The other thing that puzzles me about Demonia is that when I walk past (which I often do on my way home) the guy who sometimes sits outside waves to me like I am his best customer. I only made two visits to the Cave Bar in three years and if I recall correctly things were pretty tame when I was there. But I can’t help wonder if I was a bit drunk or more than a bit and forgot all that I did. I wrote to a friend about this and his reply was: “Oh, so you’re the guy who was behind the screen with the chicken.” Hmmm.
So I spoke to the manager of Demonia (by phone) and was told they changed the name of the bar on Christmas day, 2004. Hmmm. When pressed as to why they changed the name she finally said it was for luck in the New Year. Sure. Whatever. She assured me the Castle has not changed its name and both "sadeet" clubs will give the same professional service, and the times - 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m - remain the same. It's good to know some things never change.
The Thai word "sadeet" seems to cover both sadism and masochism or else the Thais are simply not into masochism and have no word for it. I'll figure it out one of these days when I have enough time on my hands. But don't hang by your thumbs until I do (pun).
It was around 9 o'clock in the morning of December 26th when a fellow at breakfast asked me if I'd felt any earthquake. He had practically been thrown out of his bed. I figured he'd had too much Christmas cheer but I guess I was the one who had had a bit too much because I never felt a thing - and there sure had been an earthquake.
As of mid-January, the Red Cross still needs RH Negative blood group for the tsunami victims. Anyone having that type of blood and who would like to help please call (in Bangkok) 02 256 4300.
As for donations and charities, I will not list any on this site as TV, radio, newspapers and other websites have them all over the place. The only advice I can give is to try to donate to a charity in which most of the money goes directly to the people not to administration costs and salaries or for advertising the charity. If the charity you contact will not give you a breakdown as to how the money is spent, you may want to give to a charity that will.
Here's hoping the folks in Phuket and elsewhere recover as rapidly as possible. Stories from bargirls in Bangkok's nightlife areas include those who had decided (fortunately for them) to work rather than go to Phuket, as well as those who have friends in Phuket who had to run for their lives. One girl at the Bus Stop restaurant on soi 4 told me the 40-year-old "Holland boyfriend" of her friend was killed and the traumatized girl herself is now back in Essarn. The Mandarin Bar had a box ready for customers to donate to the needy folks affected by the disaster. Their altruistic spirit made up for the fact that there weren't enough girls that night so none were dancing on the second level.
Pattaya's oldest and largest Expat meeting, the Pattaya City Expats Club, meets every Sunday from 9:30 - 12:00 for an international breakfast buffet and helpful advise and information for expats with a question and answer forum and interesting guest speakers. Everyone is welcome. Admission is free (although I think you pay a bit for breakfast). I'll be the speaker on Sunday the 30th of this month at about 10:30. So if you are in Pattaya, come over to Henry J. Bean's restaurant at Pattaya North right on Beach Road. Should be fun.
Some of the names of the massage parlors advertising in local English-language papers do make me drool a bit: Yoko, Maya, My Angel, Good Lady, Leena, Yuki, Honey, The Discreet Entertainment and Wonderful. The wonderful thing about living in Bangkok is that in an emergency you are never far from a massage parlor. Not only that but it seems as if whoever designed the underground (subway system) planned the exits to come up near some entertainment area. Good man, whoever he was.
I will from time to time make some comments on individual bars especially if they give good service and especially if they are ripoffs but readers should understand that sometimes within just a few months the bars change from good service and good value to lousy and back again. For example, a year ago I was in the Electric Blue in Pattaya and found it one of the most exciting bars in Pattaya, especially the sexy dancers upstairs. Over the Thanksgiving holidays I was there again and each of the three women dancing upstairs was, alas, waaay overweight, and the women downstairs were so listless in their dancing that I have seen better and more provocative movements among female straphangers on the Skytrain. But by the time you read this, they may have sexy dancers up there again and may have improved on the music so the dancers can dance to it. So the moral is don’t write any bar off. Just try it again in a few months.
I sometimes wonder why bar owners and managers hire so many dancers that the former ricefield workers literally have no room to dance! A perfect example of this is the Baccara Bar on Soi Cowboy. It has a glass ceiling and upstairs cute young things in outfits designed to resemble school uniforms dance while revealing quite a bit but not too much. White blouses, pleated black skirts, white socks, sneakers. Quite nicely done. But downstairs the stage is sometimes crowded with girls none of whom seem to know how to dance even if they had room which they don’t. If I were a bar manager I would ensure that the girls I hire understand they are not there to shuffle and chat with their neighbors but to actually dance. Or is that too much common sense for Bangkok? Still, not to dump on the Baccara Bar. I like the place, they just need to work on the downstairs dancers. If only they could match some of the enthusiasm of the vibrant young things dancing over their heads!
Speaking of Pattaya, the same folks who own the Peppermint on Walking Street also own the Happy a-go-go. I confess Happy a-go-go is my favorite and has been for years. The girls are great and actually know how to dance. Something about the place really rocks. The Peppermint is certainly not bad either and it was fun to first, get frisked at the door, and then get waiied politely by about a hundred employees before I even reached my seat.
While in Pattaya, I noticed a sign in a small restaurant that said they had rooms upstairs. When I asked about it, the owner said, “Yes, but you should know there is a fan in the room.” I said, “Thank you, but I would prefer to select my own lover.” She said, “No, I meant fan in English, not Thai.” Oh. OK, linguistic confusion.
As I’m sure you know, the Pattaya scene is far less inhibited than that of Bangkok as the seaside resort falls in a different district geographically and is on its own planet in many other ways. So if you prefer your dancing topless, etc., head to the seaside resort. Lots of fun to watch the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans gawk at the ladies with very little on in the shows.
“You’re as old as the woman you feel.” – Groucho Marx
The upper level bars at Nana Plaza have been feeling a decided pinch in the pocketbook for some time. It could be a number of things or as the pretentious university sophomores would say, we must apply a multi-factor analysis. So, is it the attitude of the dancers; the 125 baht price for a beer; the competition in Bangkok and in much more daring Pattaya; the 600 baht barfine; the fact that only the most tame shows can be put on during the crackdown?
I find the girls quite friendly, the beer not that overpriced, the barfine only a bit excessive. So I would put my finger on the moralistic crackdown (particularly the 1 a.m. closing rule), especially on farang-owned establishments, as well as the competition in so many other areas. Needless to say, I like Nana Plaza (What's not to like watching pretty young women in skimpy outfits dance?) and wish it well, and I sympathize with the beleaguered bar owners, but dropping the price of a barfine might be a good start to better business in the New Year.
Reprobate that I am, I tend to cut out and save clippings from newspapers if the clipping is about sex and if it is absurd or funny. Some are a week or two old, some are months old, but to me all are timeless. In Hong Kong emergency services were called to a brothel after a 60-year-old customer dropped dead shortly after taking off his clothes. He died of a suspected heart attack as he prepared to have sex with a prostitute. What interested me was that the report says she was a Thai prostitute. I find that hard to believe she was Thai because it says “the prostitute rang emergency services who took the man to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.” If she were really a Thai prostitute wouldn’t she have, like Thai bus drivers and truck drivers in an accident, “fled the scene?”
Discovered that your bill in a soi 33 "art bar" has been padded? It may not have been. When that pretty young thing behind the counter asked if she could come from around the counter to sit with you she should have made it clear that it would cost you three drinks. If she didn't you have the right to complain for whatever good it does. In the Renoir the other night a lovely young thing did make it clear and I did have her sit with me and I did pay her 500 baht to pay to the bar so that she wouldn't have to work the next day and could cavort with me. Why pay over one thousand baht to take a girl out of one of those bars when you can set it up for the next day for 500 baht? (Unless, wealthy stud that you are, you just can't wait.)
Finally, while on Hong Kong, a woman attempted to commit suicide but landed on a car and damaged it. She survived but the car owner is suing her for damage. She refuses to pay because she said she has lived on that block for ten years and she knows the car was illegally parked. Stories like this remind me of a wonderful quote by Edward Young: “Historians…may be considered as satirists, and satirists most severe; since such are most human actions, that to relate, is to expose them.” (Of course, in America, no doubt the woman would have got a clever lawyer and sued the car owner for interfering with her suicide plans.)
The Australian scholar Marc Askew speaks fluent Thai, loves to chat with bargirls and when in town hangs about the bars in Washington Square. Marc is always good company. And I thank Marc for this tip: When a girl in a bar (or elsewhere) asks what it is you do or are, just tell her you are a wiraburut hongnorn (“Hero of the Bedroom"). Thanks, Marc, problem is sooner or later they may ask me to prove it.
The Texas Lone Star at Washington Square had a good New Year's Eve turnout for its free lunch. And Soi Cowboy was really rocking on New Year's Eve well into the early morning hours with the boys from Nanapong whooping it up upstairs at the Dollhouse. Nana Plaza was crowded with merrymakers and all in all it was a very good night for revelers, punters and bar owners alike. Not to mention for the ladies themselves. And by now many of the ladies have drifted back to Bangkok from Pattaya and elsewhere and much has returned to normal. Or, at least, as normal as Bangkok ever gets.
And please note that the old Hollywood Two at Nana Plaza is now Hollywood Strip. So the Big Bar is Hollywood Carousel and the Small Bar is Hollywood Strip. You wanna see the new sign as well? OK, click on it.
In the next Roundup I'll sort out the truth from the fiction regarding the future of Washington Square. Don't believe all the rumors.
Good grief, don't forget the Bangkok International Film Festival this month 13th through 24th. Some interesting films! Check out their website: Bangkokfilm.org
Got feedback to this column? Got information on Thailand you would like to share? Happy as a dung beetle to be living in Paradise? Been ripped off? Just write me at email@example.com.
That's all for this fortnightly column. (Official Start 1 February 2005) Drop by again. Meanwhile, as the girls used to tell me during the 1960's: "You number one, GI!"
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