Bangkok's Night Scene In Review
Sukhumvit 1 Plaza 'arrives'
- CRITICAL MASS AND VARIETY
Soi Eden Breaks Out
Too Sexy For My Shoes
Rumor Of The Month
APRIL's Follies in review
Late last July, MIDNITE HOUR noted a hand-painted banner stretched across a building under construction near the top of Sukhumvit Soi 1. The sign was advertising (in English) "Bar-Beer for Rent", and they were calling themselves "Sukhumvit Soi 1 Entertainment & Plaza" (subsequently shortened considerably to it's present Sukhumvit 1 Plaza). And while we touted it in our August 2004 edition, we didn't have much faith in it actually developing into a 'draw' for the night prowler crowd - it not having that magical 'location-location-location'. Our lack of confidence was proven unwarranted - and gladly.
Sukhumvit 1 Plaza first opened it's doors officially on 01 November 2004, however by that time, five bars had opened early - the leader of the pack was the Sports Bar 2, which opened on 14 October 04 - and lands the kudos as the seminal bar. (It is still there today, but has changed it's name to Beaver's.)
Other bars that opened in quick succession in the week that followed, were there at the 01 November kick-off celebrations - they were:
Go Diva (Godiva)
The One Bar
However, five bars does not a Night Entertainment Area make. They were still just 5 bars, not really enough to form a nucleus of Nightspot Venues capable of attracting sufficient custom - not large enough to be considered a 'destination' by Bangkok's night-revellers. Or to say the same thing another way, Sukhumvit 1 Square was still quite far away from attaining critical mass.
But over the last five months, occupancy has gradually and steadily increased, some bars changing hands, some new bars. With the opening of Mini Bar, the Night Entertainment facility saw it's first upstairs bar come to life. This month, there are no less than four Night Venues in operation on the second and fourth floors. (The third floor, rumored to become the next late-nite Thermae-style coffee shop will not come to pass, however, as it is being put to other uses.)
This surge in new openings on the upper floors pushes Sukhumvit 1 Plaza comfortably into that (essential for survival) state of critical mass. The lineup of players on this date (for you history buffs taking notes) is as follows.
Beaver's (Seminal bar) - from 13 Night Market
Chemo 01 -from 13 Night Market and Sukhumvit Square.
Go Diva Bar (Godiva)
Night Night Joop Joop
Mae Mai Karaoke & Kitchen
Sexy Bar - formerly Bar Bie at Asoke Plaza
Smile Bar - formerly Chid bar Asoke Plaza
Josephine's Bar, Pool, Seafood
Morning Night II - a branch-off of Morning 2 Night, Nana Plaza.
The volume of business, however, still leaves a lot to be desired, as there are a lot of folk that have not yet heard of Sukhumvit 1 Plaza, or don't know where it is. To this end, we have provided the below locator map.
Sukhumvit 1 Plaza has a variety of lounges, Pool Bars, restaurants, bar beers, and a karaoke to keep resident expats and tourists entertained, and as construction on the upper floors continues, we can expect to see additional Nightspots opening in the near future. And while they are still struggling to "make a go of it", business is starting to pick up - last weekend, while not swamped, they looked quite busy. Sukhumvit 1 Plaza is Bangkok's second made-to-purpose Night Entertainment Area (following only Queen's Park Plaza on Soi 22) - and a break from normal 'procedure' in that it is our Capital's first Bar Beer Nightspot Area not to be "opportunistic" - i.e., built for short-term gain on land earmarked for further development in the near future. MIDNITE HOUR wishes both the Nightspot management team and the individual Night Entertainment Venue owners at Sukhumvit 1 Plaza a prosperous future.
MIDNITE HOUR presents the NEWS on the Bangkok Night Scene; - the 'history-in-the-making' for all major Night Entertainment Areas - for the month ending 1 APRIL, 2005 :
Appropos last month's comments re the Twilo Live's influence in keeping street vendors away from both the side and the front of their establishment, it seems that they conveniently park vehicles in Soi Superstar (at the side) day and night, as a sort-of 'proof-of-claim'. Nevertheless, the rest of Patpong 1 may be following suit later this month - see our Rumor Of The Month this month, just above. PATPONG I
Both the Bua Luang Target, and the upstairs IT Room closed down for renovations this last month (March). The Bua Luang Target is back, full-throttle, but the renovations on the IT Room won't be finished until the 4th of April, at the earliest. Pool Bar remains the modus operandi for both Nightspots. PATPONG II
The Morning 2 Night, as earlier rumored, will have it's current lease expire in the very near future. One embellishment to the rumor has it that they are having their rent raised from 100,000 baht/mo to 300,000 baht/mo, so they are not going to renew, and will move over to their new Morning Night 2 in Sukhumvit 1 Plaza, lock, stock, and barrel. But our "person-in-the-know" at the Plaza says that this is probably not the case - in that they gross over a million baht a month at Nana, the rumored increase in rent only represents a bump in the road. The more likely scenario, says he, is that the owner wants it back so he can make the cool million + every month. Hey, if you were the owner, what would you do.....? NANA PLAZA
Opening only last October, Pussy Cat's Bar has been shut down for sign and licence 'inconsistencies'. While they were shut down, we noted that they had their rap samak duan signs taped to the front - usually indicating an impending reopening. And that is exactly what happened - just as we were getting ready to write them off entirely, they opened on 31 March, but with a different name. They are now called, in both Thai and English the Farang Connection. If that name sounds familiar, it should -the original Farang Connection closed in April of 2001, selling out to the Angel Witch. But apparently the licenses in that name were 'kept alive', and are now finally being reused. The owner apologized for no A-Go-Go, and said he would have his chrome poles back next week, as well as the girls' bikinis (they were dancing in skirts and shirts last night). Another way of saying his dancing license would be reinstated next week. Shake it, don't break it, guys, you know how Bangkok's Men In Too-Tight Uniforms can get, even for the smallest infraction...
We've also heard two stories, the first that all the above was brought about by 23 million baht changing hands, the second story was that it took 28 million. In either case, it is quite a sobering reality-check to see what the bigger bars are selling for these days. Renovations already proceeding at a furious pace, the wall between the two bars has been torn down and both bars stripped, as construction crews start from scratch on what is tentatively named Rainbow 4. They are aiming for a 1 May opening....well, maybe.
The above mentioned single-shophouse Rosemary Bar deserves special mention. Back in 1982, before Nana Plaza was Nana Entertainment Plaza, and there was only a small bar beer in the driveway (Luck Lukes), three bars from Sukhumvit Soi 16 closed down due to road construction and moved in. These three were the Three Roses Bar, the Rainbow Bar, and the Rosemary Bar (-which combined the Rosemary 1 & 2 bars). These three seminal bars set the tone for what was to follow in the coming decades. Yet it was only in January 2002, after a run of 20 years (and a couple, three owners) when the Three Roses closed it's doors for the last time -- selling out to Spanky's, which opened in March of that year. Now that Rosemary Bar has been bought by the Rainbow Group, that leaves only the Rainbow Bar as the remaining seminal bar.
In contrast, the Rainbow Bar has grown since 1982 from a single shophouse to a double shophouse A-Go-Go, and in August 1997 took over the XXX Tacy (also known as the XTC), renaming itself the Rainbow II. In November 2001 it took over part of the Nana Guest House short-time hotel and opened yet another venue, the Rainbow III. Alas, the Rosemary Bar's fate wasn't so auspicious -after a run of 23 years, it finally stuck that last chit in that last cup. We at MIDNITE HOUR would like to wish them a final 'adios' -- and hope they find things more to their liking a little further on down the road a piece. NANA PLAZA
While we are on the subject of Lucky Luke's, it also has a new owner (yes, the individual it was rumored to be), and if the other night was any indication, business is looking good, indeed. It's new owner confirms that not only do they not have any affiliation with the New Lucky Luke's on Tobacco Road (Soi Zero), he didn't even know of it's existence.... Hopefully, that will settle the outstanding discussion on this one. NANA PLAZA
Now back in action, last month the Hog's Breath Saloon was arbitrarily singled out by Lumpini's Men In Tan for a 30-day 'holiday' (an alleged previous month's display of various shades of pink on the dance floor).The Powers-That-Be just don't seem to understand that this egregious dispensation of street-justice is an affront to Rule Of Law, and an order of magnitude greater than any of the perceived 'sins' they are 'cracking down' on.These arbitrary closures do not require that the Men In Too-Tight Uniforms provide any evidence, nor are the alleged violators offered the opportunity of appeal, and until this changes, these Rambo cops will continue to take the law into their own hands... NANA PLAZA
And now the other shoe drops: - the Naughty Girls-to-be also will be absorbing the next door neighbor, the Five Star II, becoming the Soi's next two-shophouse-wide bar. The Five Star II intends to keep on operating, however, even when they tear down the wall between them and the former New Crazy Cats - this we gotta see...
13 NIGHT MARKET
SOI DEAD ARTISTS
Opening right about ...now ! is the Karaoke Sakura 33, just upstairs from the Oliver reeDs cluB. If the name wasn't enough to give you the hint, orientation: Oriental, although the comely lasses below say gaijin also are welcome. Welcome to the night circus, orientation be damned.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS
The venue furiously abuilding last month between the Monet Club and the Santana Club was a restaurant (Akado Restaurant), and not a Night Entertainment Venue, per se. And while we will not be carrying them on our rolls, we wish them prosperous night-adventures, just the same. SOI DEAD ARTISTS
Historians note: the Cafι 4 has at last nailed their 'final' neon shingle up -- and it reads, "Cafι 4 Bangkok". So be it. All else remains unchanged. SOI KATOEY
The third floor of the Sukhumvit 1 Plaza building, once rumored to become the next late-nite "Thermae-Style" coffee shop is going to be no such thing. The entire third floor, having been divided up into individual rooms with baths looks suspiciously like a short time hotel - that is to say, they look suspiciously like what we have heard short-time hotels look like... SUKHUMVIT 1 PLAZA
The second floor has blossomed with three new bar beers this last month, with two more abuilding.
The Sexy Bar is the first of these, staffed with what we thought were some familiar faces. And we were correct, but we were thrown off the trail -- this new Sexy Bar has no connection to the Sexy Bar that closed down a month ago in 13 Night Market. Instead, this is the reincarnation of the Bar Bie Bar (Barbie) from Asoke Corner. (Some of you will recall that Bar Bie was the seminal bar at Asoke Corner some 5 years prior.) Good to see that old entrepreneurial zeal. They still have a lot of interior work to do, but the place looks clean and bright (perhaps too bright?) Welcome back to the briar-patch.
SUKHUMVIT 1 PLAZA
Smile Bar, located in the next loc over, also had a couple of familiar faces behind the bar. You guessed correctly if you guessed 'Smile Bar from Asoke Corner'. They, too, have moved over, and are giving it another try. (Many of you may remember them as the Chid bar - which was their name up until quite recently.) Good to see they've popped back up out of their coffin. Let the good times roll. SUKHUMVIT 1 PLAZA
The new kid on the block, tucked waaaay back in the back is the Junk Bar. This bar is very well appointed, and very comfortable, if a little small - but their problem is they are almost invisible - when we visited, we were looking for new Night Venues, and we almost didn't see it as we started back down the stairs. You got good neon, guys, but you need to hang it out a little. Welcome to partytown.
SUKHUMVIT 1 PLAZA
Downstairs, the seminal The Sports Bar 2 which recently changed to Beaver's has hung a small sign off their big Beaver's sign which reads, "Sports Bar". We thought it was the Metropolis' Sign Gestapos at work again, but this time we were wrong - the owner, now having moved full-time over from the closed Sports Bar at 13 Night Market, was fearful that some of her regulars might not get it right when they came to visit her at her new digs. SUKHUMVIT 1 PLAZA
The rumor that three of the staff of the Chemo 01 bar beer had died in an auto accident is, unfortunately, not a rumor. Travelling upcountry to vote, the van they were in was involved in a single-vehicle accident. The driver, at least as drunk as the eleven passengers, passed out and swerved off the road at high speed, hitting something and rolling the van several times. The driver and the three girls in front were killed outright, and the other 8 passengers, while injured seriously, recovered in the hospital, and were able to recount the infinite joys and benefits of drinking while driving. Khun A, after assisting with the gruesome details, came back to Bangkok to remove her property from her already closed down Chemo 04 at 13 Night Market, and reopened the Chemo 01 on 1 March. Keep on Rockin'. SUKHUMVIT 1 PLAZA
This being the final curtain call for both the two bars, and for Easy Square itself, the MIDNITE HOUR has made a note for the historical record, and our final Thumbnail History will follow at a near-future date - once we are reasonably sure neither of the two bars above pries their way out of their crypt and attempts to reopen. (This remains a distinct possibility, by the way, as the Hang Out has yet to receive it's deposit back, and just may, out of spite, remain open for the remainder of it's one year contract, or the arrival of the bulldozers, whichever comes first...)
--- Datzit Fernow
William R. Morledge
Copyright © 2005, BANGKOK EYES / bangkokeyes.com