Eighteen months after the first bar moved into a virtually empty plot of land, Easy Square
, has become Bangkok's
newest Night Entertainment Area
. This June, with the opening of the Thai Boxing Bar
and the Louis
bar, and with three other bars nearing construction completion, Easy Square
reached the elusive, illusive "Critical Mass"
, becoming a self-sustaining draw to Bangkok's
night revellers. But it hasn't been without it's trials, for nothing has been easy for Easy Square
, nor does it look like things will be easy in the future.
first came to our attention in October of last year (2003), and was the lead story in our November 2003 MIDNITE HOUR
. At that juncture, we noted that while they already had almost half a dozen bars, they were not yet a Night Entertainment Area
in their own right. The limited ongoing construction, and the promise and promises of new Night Venues
made it seem that they would cross the threshold at any moment, but actual growth never came up to the hype and the dreams of those there at ground-zero. At that juncture MIDNITE HOUR
also started keeping historical notes and made occasional follow-up reports on Easy Square
, based on the assumption that it would eventually grow, and not 'die on the vine' as many had predicted.
In February of this year, the land owners decided it was time to take the initiative (See our report in the March 2004 issue). They started a rather ambitious construction project, which would provide 34 'lok', or 3x5 meter areas for lease as bar beers or whatever. Construction raced far ahead of actual new lessees, however. The occasional new tenants each took two or three 'lok' to make larger bar beers. It was at this time that the first of two muay Thai
boxing rings was put up. This owner-sponsored construction project did not in itself constitute a new Night Entertainment Area
, but it did pave the way for long-term growth and it's eventual realization.
Each month we continued to see at least one new Night Entertainment Venue
; - at this rate, it was only a matter of time before Easy Square
would 'come of age', and be counted as a stand-alone Night Entertainment Area
's primary interest in Bangkok's Night Entertainment Scene
remains historical. In addition to recording the comings and goings of the more significant Expat Night Entertainment Areas
and the Night Entertainment Venues
within, we also, whenever possible, give the nod to the "seminal bar" - the bar that was the catalyst for the buildup that followed, and is representative of the type of entertainment found within the Night Entertainment Area
. The Nice Bar
is clearly Easy Square's
'. The Nice Bar
, having closed it's doors in Soi Cowboy
in October of 2002, began construction in it's new location almost immediately thereafter. It opened it's doors as a bar beer - pool bar
in January of 2003.
The Nice Bar
is, to this day, the nicest bar at Easy Square
. Not only was it first, it was the quite obviously the 'trend-setter', typifying the type of entertainment to be found at this Night Entertainment Area
But having classified Easy Square
as a "Night Entertainment Area
", we hasten to add that this is neither a guarantee of success, nor of longevity. It should be remembered that, as with virtually all of Bangkok's
bar beer areas, Easy Square
is an 'opportunistic
' Night Entertainment Area
. In that it, and all it's venues are built on land that was originally earmarked for a large, high-rise development project, they are, almost by definition, taking advantage of a limited window of opportunity to make a profit in the interregnum. As such, it should not be lost on bar owners that Bangkok
has seen two other opportunistic bar areas disappear over the last 18 months (Clinton Plaza
and Sukhumvit Square
). As earlier reported by MIDNITE HOUR
, the land beneath Easy Square
has already been deep-piled for just such a mega-project. Although the land owners deny that the mega-project will go forward (they claim the project was squelched by the 'Authorities'), the likelihood that such redevelopment has been put off for the long term is remote. In our eyes, and in the eyes of many would-be investors, it is only a matter of time before a project for 'permanent' development gets under way.
has other problems it must overcome before it can get comfortable with even a short-time future. The major obstacle being that of "location, location, location
" - something it most resoundingly does NOT
have. Located about halfway between Sukhumvit Road
and Rama IV Road
on Soi 22
, it is the only Expat Night Entertainment Area
not on, or next to a main thoroughfare and the Sky Train
lines. Although it is possible to walk to Easy Square
, it is almost a necessity to drive (fortunately, plenty of parking space). Talking with owners and others on the ground at Easy Square
, they are for the most part, just eking out an existence there, hoping the upcoming winter - and the concomitant influx of tourists- will turn things around for them.
That having been said, the number of Night Entertainment Venues
continues to grow, and the customer base, especially return Expat custom, is slowly on the rise. Barring a future 'change in the wind', Easy Square
could survive at least long enough to make a mark in the collective memory. For those of you with historian genes in your makeup, the following listing of Night Venues
is the "point in time" survey as it attained 'critical mass
' in June 2004 - in order of their arrival on the scene. (Listing does not show several bars that have gone out of business over the formative 18-month period.)
- Jan 03
- Jan 03
- ~~Aug 03
- Oct 03
Tawan Thong Karaoke
- Dec 03
- Jan 04
4 - U Bar
- Mar 04
- Apr 04
Easy Square Muay Thai Arena
- Apr 04
D & D Bar
Mem & Mem Bar Beer
- Apr 04
- Apr 04
- May 04
Thai Boxing Bar
- June 04
- June 04
HOW TO GET THERE - Map links -
Easy Square is located several hundred meters inside Soi 22. Going in from the Sukhumvit Road side, it is on the left, just past the juncture of Soi 22 and Soi Sai Nam Thip 2 - you won't miss the signs. You can go to our Area Map by
or go directly to our detailed Night Entertainment Map by
We wish Easy Square
continued successes, and will continue to cover their new openings, closings and activities, as well as provide updated maps and historical observations in our future editions.
Vice czar Governor?!
Chuwit's hat is in the ring
, the entrepreneurial brothel massage parlor baron and vice czar is currently running for Bangkok Governor
. This is the same Chuwit
that was involved in the shady midnight demolition of the Sukhumvit Square
tourist area under the noses of the local police in January 2003. Even before Sukhumvit Square's
demolition by Mafia
forces, the land on which it sat was embroiled in lawsuits between lessees and Chuwit Kamolvisit's
companies. After it's demolition, Chuwit's
links to these underworld goings-on (involving these and other related companies like Nickel
and Sukhumvit Stars
) was made perfectly clear in the Press
In addition, Khun Chuwit
has outstanding kidnapping charges against the National Police
, where he claims they kept him for days before throwing him out onto an abandoned section of highway. (He claims they kidnapped him and threatened him because he was implicating them in a massive bribery scandal.)
On another front, he was recently brought up on charges of hiring under-age girls in his brothel massage parlors, but was let free for 'lack of sufficient evidence' (in local parlance, he bought his way out of the charge), and most recently Chuwit
was indicted for falsely accusing the National Police General Sant
and his men of kickback blackmail - which he admits
he paid in order to keep his brothel massage parlors open - (or should we say they attempted
to indict him - Chuwit
further thumbing his nose at the legal system, just simply refused to appear in court). Cont'd below. . .
. . . .
Only in Bangkok
The spectacle of Chuwit Kamolwisit's campaign posters attached to the very "Wall Of Shame" his Mafia connections constructed around Sukhumvit Square as they pillaged it is the adding of insult to injury - the ultimate thumbing of one's nose at the Authorities. The passing populace seems oblivious to this grandest of ironies.
*Translation by Zootramp Publications
Further, other criminal charges had earlier been levied against Chuwit Kamolvisit
, closing all but two of his brothel massage parlors on a variety of infractions, from prostitution on down - these matters are yet to be resolved in the courts, and the offending brothel massage parlors remain closed.
In the sweetest of ironies, probably the only thing Chuwit
is innocent of is the charge of falsely accusing the police of bribery - they most certainly bribed him (demanded kickbacks) in order to let his brothel massage parlors stay open - and so certain were the Authorities that it was true, that when Chuwit
blew the lid off the story to the Press
, the Prime Minister
himself saw to it that police chief heads rolled, and transfers to far-away border towns were the order of the day.
Again, this is Chuwit Kamolwisit
, the very same man who is now running for Bangkok Governor
, and promising an 'honest' run of things. It could only happen here - so sit back and watch the show. (For full background stories, click HERE
*CLICK* on thumbnails below to view additional ' Chuwit ' & other campaign posters -
The Pattaya Run
Walking the Walking Street
Although MIDNITE HOUR
is primarily dedicated to the Bangkok Scene
, we occasionally take a look at what's going on further afield. Bangkokians
sooner rather than later, get the feeling that their home stomping grounds are not the 'be-all, end-all' to Night Entertainment
, and decide to get out of town for a change of pace. The "Pattaya run
" (the two hour run to Pattaya
) is the most commonly chosen form of escape - certainly because it is the path of least resistance - the nearest large Night Entertainment Area
outside the Capitol
and the most bang for the buck.
We chose to focus on South Pattaya's Walking Street
for a couple of reasons. First, it is the historic center of Pattaya's Night Life Scene
, dating back to the R&R years (early '70's). The list of memorable Night Venues
from that 'early' slice of history is long, however no recounting of its past glories would be complete without mentioning the Fantasy Club
on the beach side of the road, a place that could only be described as an all-night al fresco
' - open at the front and open to the sea at the rear. There was also the Sand Box
, similar in format, that eventually introduced Muay Thai
boxing for male and female pugilists (real, blood-letting bouts, not the show bouts of today). Across the street from them on the 'inside' was Dino's
, which was Pattaya's
first show bar and A-Go-Go
, it's time to admit that it was not the Tahitian Queen
). Next to it on the uptown side was the single-shophouse Harbor Light
, also an A-Go-Go bar, and nearby was Hank's Hideaway
, which was a sprawling affair, and also later had a couple of small A-Go-Go stages in operation. Historically, South Pattaya
was the center for great restaurants, as well, with the Nang Nual
leading the way for seafood (still there today), and the original Dolf Riks
for continental cuisine and his famous ristaffel (Dolf
later moved his restaurant to North Pattaya
a few years prior to his death).
The other reasons for our focus on the Walking Street
is that everything typical of Pattaya's Night Entertainment Scene
can be found there, and that the 'walking street' concept works
- at least from the customers' viewpoint (we should add that several Night Venue
owners have their own thoughts on the matter).
on a Pattaya run
are quickly reminded of Pattaya's
"openness", it's free-wheeling 'anything goes' atmosphere. A not-so-subtle reminder that this was the way Bangkok
once was, prior to the current Autocratic Regime's
authoritarian attempts to micro-manage Night Entertainment
- and everything else they have summarily lumped into their imagined "prostitution" and "face-breaking" categories. Each of us experienced a large slap-upside-the-head of nostalgia - it wasn't that long ago that Bangkok
also had that 'electrified' feeling of freedom. And our thoughts raced to the possibility that this is what Bangkok
could be once again, if left to saner management and managers. But let's get on with the show...
Lam On The Lam?
South Pattaya's Blues Factory is a respectable, respected blues bar - and it didn't take them long to get a reputation - what with great gigs from the likes of the Soi Dogs, and others. So we were naturally delighted when we saw the hand-written signs taped to their door advertising Lam Morrison and The Bastards (actually, The Bastards got top billing). Some of you long term residents and return visitors may remember Lam Morrison from the '70's and '80's as one of Bangkok's first home-grown rockers. We were looking forward to seeing him perform again, if only for nostalgia's sake - after all we are talking almost 30 years here. But alas, it wasn't to be - we went into the Blues Factory and waited not once but twice -no Lam. Not giving up entirely, we stuck our heads in a couple more times that evening and, again -no Lam. All was not lost, however, as The Bastards, a youngish white group, were fair rockers in their own right (no blues while we were present, however).
Pattaya, June 2004
A Garland of Reds and Greens
Having taken care of the "Pay bar, pay bar," Gae slips her street clothes on over her bikini, and she and her john depart from the Amazon Girls A-Go-Go and walk outside into the light monsoon shower. Before they are halfway to the hotel, a girl clad in a blue satin mini-robe and three-inch platforms darts from the doorway of yet another Walking Street bar to intercept them. Unperturbed by the gently falling rain, long-time friends Gae and Ying have a lot of catching up to do - they haven't seen each other since they worked a nightly lesbian show together in one of the now-defunct Diamond Arcade bars.
But the main topic of conversation is Ying's birthday - which is today. It is then that Gae notices the long creamy-white doc mali garland around Ying's neck, which hangs almost down to her blue satin sash. And stapled to that flower-studded strand are several one-hundred baht and twenty-baht notes. Gae reaches for her purse and pulls out a crisp, red one-hundred baht note and gives it to Ying, whereupon Ying crooks her arm through Gae's and pulls her into the bar. Now at the cashier's corner, Ying reaches over the bar for the stapler. Carefully folding the new red over the fragrant jasmine-bud garland, she staples the ends of the banknote together. Another friend wishes Ying happy birthday. and with an almost imperceptible wai, gives her a bright green twenty-baht note - which is promptly fastened in like manner next to Gae's red.
The garland of reds and greens will defray some of the cost of the beer, local whiskey and sodas that Ying has shelled out for as birthday offerings to one and all - as long as stocks last. Gae politely takes a rain check on a Mehkong-Coke, telling Ying she'll be back before closing time. She returns outside to the bright neon, glittering now in the cool midnight mist - and she and her customer, hand-on-arm, continue on their way.
Pattaya, June 2004
Heavens Above !
The sign at the back of Diamond Arcade reads Heaven Above, and next to it a freshly painted stairway topped with beckoning hostesses. Other than it seems to be too brightly lit, nothing out of the ordinary, so far. At the top of the stairs, you are invited to kindly remove your shoes, not to scratch the new white floor tiles. Two large Sports Channel TVs catch the eye, but are not turned up to the point of aural shock, thus remaining bearable. You are given your choice of where you would like to sit - the long white sofas or the beds which have been pushed up snugly against two white upholstered walls. Having, probably, taken a page from Bangkok's The Bed restaurant, they have taken it to its more logical extreme - the earlier mentioned hostesses are more than willing to frolic playfully on the beds with the customers despite the well-lit surroundings, although heavy hanky-panky is reserved for after the 'pay bar' at another venue of your choice. Some of our frolicking friends become so engrossed in the novelty of their new surroundings, they are not even aware until too late that the Heaven Above serves great tacos. But they should have known - could it possibly be Heaven without tacos?
Pattaya, June 2004
"Rumor Of The Month"
"Rumor" is defined as "no-fault confabulation, chain-reaction speculation...." Nevertheless MIDNITE HOUR again presents the most outrageous / prevalent rumor to cross our desks this past month:
"The Sukhumvit side of the Ambassador Hotel, now being used for a night market, beer garden and traditional massage parlors will be converted into a bar beer Night Entertainment Area. "
MIDNITE HOUR includes as part of our Rumor Of The Month an ongoing evaluation as to the accuracy of said rumors since the inception of the award.
As of 01 July 2004, the Rumor Accuracy Quotient remains at - 0%
See our Archived Rumors at their worst : click HERE.
presents the NEWS
on the Bangkok Night Scene
; - the 'history-in-the-making'
for all major Night Entertainment Areas
- for the month ending 1 JULY, 2004
PATPONG I .
On hearing, and not believing for a moment that Patpong 1 was mending it's bad habits, and had gone back to offering undiluted Night Entertainment, we decided nonetheless to give it the acid test. We chose King's Castle II, which has had one of the worst reputations for mercenary hostesses, aggressive street louts, high prices and rumored to have short-change scams operating from time to time. We are pleased to say we found none of the above. The bar was packed to the ceiling, both with A-Go-Go dancers and customers. Our soft drinks were 80 baht (not happy hour), and the hostesses/A-Go-Go girls that joined us did not ask for drinks -ever- and we were not hassled or hustled in any other way - even our (correct) change came promptly. A very positive sign indeed, and although our visit represents only a single data point, it would indicate that Patpong is listening to it's myriad critics of the last seven years. And although we will be taking other samplings before we come forward with any positive recommendations, for now, keep on keeping on.
PATPONG II .
As mentioned in our earlier issues, Club Electric Blue
's confrontation with Bang Rak's Finest
(and their extended exorcism of the ghost of the Rififi
) left them out of action for a full two-month count. And in the process, they lost their right to call themselves a "Club
" - which apparently violated someone's registered name and/or copyright. They have reopened - on schedule - this 12 June, and the beat continues as if it had never stopped. We welcome them back to the sharkpool, this time as just plain Electric Blue
We could hardly believe our eyes as we passed the Foodland
and looked down the normally dark corridor going to the car park. Above a familiar old doorway we saw brand-new neon advertising the reopening of Mike's Place
. Residents and return visitors may well remember the Mike's Place
of the '80's, where every Friday and Saturday night was SRO. We regretted it's passing into history in June of 1996, when it's German owner finally gave up the fight (he also owned the Butterfly
until he sold to the King's Group
who renamed it Camelot Castle
On entering, we were more than a little disappointed that the rock'n'roll videoteque and A-Go-Go of old had been replaced by a Pool Bar
, but once we got over it, an interesting story unfolded. While the big sign outside read only 'Mike's Place
', the business cards had the added word "Spanky
". There are two "Spanky
" groups going at the present time - one in Nana Plaza
and the other in Cowboy Annex
- was this new bar somehow related to one or the other of these? We spoke with the owner, Lek
, who alluded that she was in fact Spanky
of Cowboy Annex
, and that yes, this was her newest bar. (Two of her three Spanky's
are still up and running in the Annex
.) Her only complaint, now that she has moved 'uptown' is that the rents are outrageously high (70,000
baht/mo.). We wish her well as she casts her lot with the uptown big dogs. PATPONG II
Closed and hidden from view is the indoor-outdoor Blue Sky
bar beer - lounge, as renovation works proceed at a frenzied pace. We look for them to open, perhaps with a new name, by the end of the month.
NANA PLAZA .
We noticed the Lollipop
has removed it's wall-to-wall neon sign from the marquee out front. Is there a name change in the wind, or is this just another unneeded renovation project to keep someone's uncle-brother in new shoes?
A flurry of activity on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors of the old Vixen's / Rock Hard
would lead one to believe they are planning to open sometime in the near future. Inasmuch as we have seen all this before, not once, but twice, we'll believe it when we see it. Rumor has it that this will be another "Mandarin"
SOI COWBOY .
Gone but not gone, the Cowboy One
have completed renovations (albeit two weeks late) and reopened in a bright eruption of color. Which, by the way, seems to be the trend these days - between them, the Spice Girls Pink Cadillac
and the Cowboy Two
, they have enough neon pumping to light the National Stadium
. A-Go-Go remains the format, and the last we looked, there was a whole lotta' shakin' goin' on - welcome back to the fray.
" The 'Boy "
Many visitors' first view of Soi Cowboy
cracking her whip above the taxis crowding around the Soi Asoke
The After Skool
now seems to want to be called Sunshine
again, and has some new neon up to show for it. Since the name-game crackdown of December 2002 they have been showing both names to their public, emphasizing one, then the other. This latest 'Sunshine'
sign (the legally registered name) was most certainly inspired by a visitation from Thonglor's Finest
, nevertheless, it is a definite improvement over the old neon. One would almost suggest that they leave it that way, and stop trying to 'sneak' back to the 'After Skool
' moniker. Shake it, don't break it, guys - unless you enjoy tweaking the tiger's tail, leave well enough alone - it's either that, or spring for the 50 thou for a formal name-change.
COWBOY ANNEX .
A Garden of Eden
The MIDNITE HOUR
door prize (for best 'door art') for this month goes to the Toi Bar
on Soi Cowboy
The Oh !Yes
Pool Bar has failed to answer the bell for the nest round. When we passed by a couple of nights ago, it looked darker than a poisoned well - their staff having moved next door to the new beauty parlor (see our next item below).
Last month we mentioned that The Richiy Bar Pool
had not reopened, and that in its place an "office-like" structure was nearing completion. The "office-like structure turned out to be the O.S. Salon
- a beauty parlor for women. And by day, it serves that purpose, however, after the sun goes down, the chrome barstools come out to the front porch area, and it transforms into a bar beer. Welcome back to the maelstrom.
The Latifah Bar
has ditched the loud Arab music for (slightly quieter) rock'n'roll, and has hired some dek pool-sharks, and has actually picked up a few customers because of it.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS (Soi 33) .
Running behind schedule, the macro-karaoke abuilding next door to Mojo's
did not open today, 01 July, -as promised- but the construction crews, still piling on the overtime each night, can pretty much guarantee they will meet their new 15 July deadline.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS
TOBACCO ROAD .
Last time we looked (yesterday) the Hello Bar
had pulled up stakes to move to higher ground - wherever that might be. Only the cold steel of it's roller-shutter greets the passing night-creatures.
TOBACCO RD (Soi 0)
EASY SQUARE .
Reopening in the old Friend Ship
digs is the brand-new Louis
bar beer/Pool Bar. A few nights ago they claimed we were their first paying customers. Their front bar and other items still under construction, they look set to take some of the overflow from the boxing crowd. Welcome them to the dogfight.
The new Thai Boxing Bar
has, not surprisingly, moved in cheek and jowl with the Easy Square Muay Thai Arena
. They have a couple, three pool tables and a lively staff of pool sharks. The Thai Boxing Bar
is owned by the same hoon
that put their heads and pocketbooks together to form the 4 U Bar
just across the driveway. Welcome to the punch-up.
Another mini-building boom is underway in the center section, next to The Basement
. Two large bars and one medium-sized bar are about 75 percent complete as we go to press. The Japanese
bar will be the first totally indoor (i.e., air conditioned) Night Venue
at the Square
. The other large bar next to it will be Portuguese
, and the construction crews say it is so big, they will be having bullfights within (it's big, but not that big). We have no info on the third bar at this juncture other than it already has a lessee. We should be laying down historical markers on these three Night Venues
on or before the first of July. Also, another strip of foundations connecting the center section with the rear section is being poured, which will provide for even more bar beer type Night Venues
- and we have heard through sources on the ground there that these new areas have already been spoken for.
QUEEN'S PARK PLAZA
We're keeping an eye on the Happiness
, an indoor Pool Bar of long standing located on the back row. It was closed the other night when we were surveying, but friends and neighbors on the ground there said they were just taking an employees' day at the beach.
QUEEN'S PARK PLAZA
, renovations now complete, is about four times it's original size and has been done up like a proper pub. It has transformed from a hole-in-the-wall to a comfortable place to have a pint or two. Welcome back to the rough-and-tumble.
QUEEN'S PARK PLAZA
Now you see them, now you don't - the Sweethearts
bar beer originally thought to have gone out of business this June has only changed it's name to Paddy's Irish Bar
. All else remains the same - keep on rocking.
QUEEN'S PARK PLAZA
THERMΖ & "13 NIGHT MARKET" .
The Mic Chokdee-Bar
have reopened this month as quietly and as quickly as they closed down last month. Welcome back to party-town.
THERMAE & 13 NIGHT MARKET
The New Ther Maι Coffee Shop
--- Datzit Fernow
Copyright © 2004, BANGKOK EYES / bangkokeyes.com
(yes, that's what it was called) has had an official name change
to Thermae Bar & Coffee House
. And only very few noticed. Or cared...
But what went entirely unnoticed was they got back their original Thai spelling for "Thermae
", and with it, bragging rights going back to 1965
- historians take note
THERMAE & 13 NIGHT MARKET
WASHINGTON SQUARE .
The Crystal Bar
has died on the vine yet again (it's most recent resurrection being last July). But since it has a habit of doing this and then popping back up out of it's coffin, we won't write it off just yet.
The No-News-Is Good-News Dept.