Bangkok's Night Scene In Review
Fagin's Brat Pack
- A PROLIFERATION OF POCKET-SIZE PICKPOCKETS
Hypocrite Of The Decade
The Twilight Zone - New Bar Area
Pink Panther Down! - End of an Era
Ask Us (almost) Anything
A Thai Smile......
June's Nightlife Newsfront
GRAFFITI - Bangkok Style !
The MIDNITE HOUR first reported the problem of Bangkok's child pickpockets in our April 2006 edition <link>, and included a photo of a young 'flower seller' when he actually had his hand in my (empty) shirt pocket. (We have reprinted this photo immediately below). At that time we were not overly concerned, seeing that there were very few of them, and they apparently were entirely inept at 'artfully dodging' anything at all.
And although we likely are not the first to report it, there have been several others reporting on this same issue subsequent to that time, most notably Stickman <link>, and Asiabugle. From their reports, our recent observations, and additional recent reports from several of our readers, it is apparent the problem has gone from bad to epidemic.
The small pack of street urchins originally populating the dark stretch of Soi 4 near the Dynasty Inn, has grown, as has their territory. We have witnessed these children working Sukhumvit Road from Soi 4 down to the top of Soi 11, with mini-mobs concentrating on the outside clientele of Gulliver's on Soi 5, and the open-air Thai restaurants opposite the Bier Garten on Soi 7. They no longer just sell, or pretend to sell flowers, they also offer everything from chewing gum, to dark glasses, and shoeshines - anything to distract your attention. And be advised, nay, be warned, this is not just some group of kids who decided to organize themselves into a sidewalk Mafia - their 'handlers' are professionals.
These street urchins, variously called "Cambodians" or "Vietnamese" by the locals, have been very carefully groomed in how to distract the unsuspecting, but they are also told other little tidbits, such as, "Never let anyone take your picture." Their incentives are great - with the carrot being items such as their own mobile phone, and the stick being the stick - they are physically abused by their handlers if, for example, their 'legitimate' sales for the night fall short. -This from MIDNITE HOUR's own interviews (in Thai) with more than one of the little devils who were reluctant, but eventually willing to get into a conversation with this farang.
A friend of over twenty years, and longtime Bangkok resident recently contacted us with yet another account of these juvenile thieves. He was walking with his wife on the sidewalk between Soi 3 and Soi 5 Sukhumvit Road, when he found himself surrounded by several street urchins ostensibly selling flowers. They were tugging on his arms and clothing, when suddenly another farang coming from the other direction yelled out, "He's got your phone," - whereupon the brat pack scattered.
The two farang set out after the street urchin who had taken the mobile phone, and quickly apprehended him, only to find that the kid had ditched the phone in a tree planter. My friend was one of the lucky ones, he got his phone back. But this did not deter him from summoning Bangkok's Finest.
. While they waited for the Men In Too-Tight Uniforms to show up, they noticed that the apprehended child thief took out his own mobile phone and was calling for help. (No, we are not making this up.)
When the Men In Tan arrived, they made a quick assessment, and pronounced that there was no evidence - after all, didn't my friend have his phone back? And now for the kicker - as my friend was leaving, he saw the urchin thief laughing and joking over the incident with none other than those selfsame Men In Tan.
Enough is enough. It is more than obvious that calling the police on a case-by-case basis is entirely non-productive, and -as described above- there is a very great likelihood that some of the Men In Tan are already monitoring the situation to fit their own needs.
It's way past time - it really is. If the Thai authorities are truly concerned about their image abroad, they will immediately put a stop to this child abuse and thievery. We encourage anyone encountering these child thieves to not only report it to the police, but make contact with the Tourism Authority Of Thailand, giving them full particulars. You can contact The Governor, Tourism Authority of Thailand here <link>
PATPONG IThe Queen's Castle 1 has very prominently announced (via new neon) that they are now just plain Queen's Castle. And should we also note that the Queen's Castle III is now no longer making any pretense at 'renovations', we might likely assume that the King's Group is going to run with just the remaining two upstairs show bars (Queen's Castle II is still in operation just across the street).
The Kitchen X, mentioned last issue, did open in May as advertised, however when we went upstairs (next to King's Castle II) and let ourselves in, we had to wake the waiters up, because the bartendee refused to take our order. We're not sure we will ever understand what was going on, but we do know that we won't be going back to try. Good luck, gang - we suspect you are going to need it....
Don't blink, or you will miss it. The smallest bar on Patpong I, or anywhere else we can think of, doesn't have a name. This bar beer is a very narrow shophouse wide, and about one meter deep - using the sidewalk as it's serving area. It offers about six kinds of beer, and that's it. Nevertheless, it has it's share of custom. They are located past King's Corner, nearer to Surawong Road. Welcome them to the free-for-all.
The big news this last month was the closing of the venerable Bar & Pub The Pink (which has been the real name of The Pink Panther A Go-Go since the January 1997 crackdown). The 'Pink Panther' was the last of the "old" A Go-Go's on Patpong II - literally the end of an era. Closing along with it was the upstairs bar, which, when the authorities were looking, went by the name The Pink La Panthera, and when they weren't looking, went by the name "The Pink Panther", however this was no great loss -basically a less than savory pay-for-show bar- (who needs it?) We should note that the recently completed bar beer in front is still in operation, and it -so far- has gotten away with calling itself The Pink Panther.
Not often are we pleased to announce the closing of a Night Entertainment Venue, but there is the occasional exception. Located immediately next to the now-closed 'Pink Panther', the Screw / Boy / Go Go Bar has closed, and immediately started undergoing demolition. Good riddance - they were one of the bars that continually had door touts out on the sidewalk physically harassing passers-by. Judging from the extent of the renovations going on there and next door, one wonders if a new, combined super-Venue might be in the works....
PATPONG I I
The interior of the Plaza Massage & Turkish Bath has been completely gutted by fire. However judging by the fact that they still have active door touts, and the occasional girl sitting out by the front door (pointing at the short-time hotel across the street), they haven't completely shut down operations. They will be finishing renovations in about a month. -At which time, they intend to carry on where they left off. They are also known as Plaza Onsen and Plaza Zone.
PATPONG I I
Last month we announced the opening of Vegas Member Club, and mentioned that we would get back to you with details. Well, the 'details' are, after wandering around inside without being noticed, is that it is an office. Apologies for the 'false alarm'. Scratch this one from the rolls.
PATPONG I I
We at MIDNITE HOUR haven't given enough emphasis to the "Internet cafes" that have become a permanent appendage to every Expat Night Entertainment Area in Thailand. Invariably, a large part of an Internet Cafe's steady custom is the Night Entertainment employees themselves, coming in to check email from their sometimes-formidable list of gig Farang, or to go online with the webcam to someone in Denmark, or Germany, or you name it. 'Hello My Big Big Honey' has gone totally electronic, no question about it. 'Supplemental income' remains the name of the game.
PATPONG I I
SOI COWBOYA couple of dancers from the Five Star A Go-Go Bar share a barstool out in the Soi. The one behind in the white satin robe awaits her next set, while the one in front is on EWR. [ EWR, or Early Work Release is actually Angeles City (Philippines) bar terminology for "Pay Bar" here in Thailand - which we thought to be an interesting turn of phrase. (Courtesy JC & The Gang at Margarita Station) <link> ]
It looks like Tony's is flashing us some new neon. Looking good - keep on keeping on.
NANA PLAZAWe had not expected the Pretty Lady to resurface any time soon. This is one time we are glad we were wrong. It looks like they sorted out whatever legal problems they had and they are back - Rock 'n Roll A Go-Go remains the modus operandi. Welcome back to the sideshow.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS(Soi 33)The fat lady sang quite suddenly last month at the Shamrock Irish Club. Opening only in October of last year, they had a very brief run at it, indeed. -And before anyone could take note of their sudden departure, the CK's Sports Bar, under new (Finnish) management, had popped up in it's place. With no shortage of neon, it shouldn't be hard to spot - just across the street from the Renoir Club. May the Fates smile as they cast their lot with the rest....
The Koi Gokoro Club and Karaoke up and did their final sayonara this May, shoving the last chit in the cup and rolling up the red carpet before month's end. Open since February of 2004, they never really got ahead of the power curve. The premises are up for lease (see lower photo), interested parties can call for info.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS
The time has come to call a spade a spade - and to bid adieu to Degas Club, one of the "founding" Dead Artists Bars. We can no longer take their 'renovation' sign seriously. Open in 1992, they were only the fifth Nitespot there, following the Renoir Club, the Vincent Van Gogh, the EA Manet Club (closed) and the Monet Club. Historians take note; the Degas Club' actual date of closure was February of this year.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS
All that remains of Lucky Luciano's (closed in January of this year) is this slightly incongruous shot of pop-icon Marilyn Monroe in her most famous, most copied pose. - Even the bar's "For Sale - 17 Million Baht" sign has been taken down.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS
SOI KATOEYThe Telephone Pub & Restaurant has now added "Lounge", becoming the Telephone Pub, Restaurant & Lounge. Whatever turns their crank... They remain one of the busiest Night Venues on the Soi, as the below curbside pic might indicate.
Pool Boyz Club (meant to be a gay Pool Bar) has fallen under the jackboot after only a six-month run for the money. But it hasn't phased Bobby in the least - he will be making the front portion into Po' Boy Cafe (which should be opening right about......now), and the back portion will become the Hideaway. In actual fact, the Hideaway Pool Bar is in operation already, it is just awaiting some new neon. The Po' Boy Cafe will be an open-fronted Thai (Central & Isan) restaurant. Let the good times roll.
TOBACCO ROADThe new fence, which we thought was a security measure for the future parking lot at Tobacco Road (Soi Zero) is actually an attempt at 'beautification' - meant to hide the eyesore that is Tobacco Road from the foreign dignitaries here for the 60th Anniversary of the King's Coronation celebrations. The bars within continue to operate on a day-to-day basis. No one is sure when "D-Day" is - most are worried that the last day of business for the bars within will be within the next few days. MIDNITE HOUR will be keeping a finger on the pulse, and will advise.
Gone, but not gone, the Emu Bar has popped back up out of it's crypt this month, and had an active crew watching football (soccer) on the teev when we passed by the other night. In other words, business as usual. Welcome back to the big uphill.
QUEEN'S PARK PLAZAOpening last month, the Cho Cho Bar 2 got their new neon up - as promised (see our last month's issue). Business seemed to be cooking along when we visited last weekend. Keep on truckin'.
The X-Bar has, also as promised, done a name-change to Cho Cho Bar I. That, however, was the only change - same friendly service. As mentioned last month, and as might logically be expected, both the Cho Cho's are owned and managed by the same people. The beat goes on.
SUKHUMVIT 1 PLAZAThe Junk Bar (second floor) will have a surprise for those who haven't seen it in a few weeks. It has gone from a single loc open bar beer to a double-wide air-conditioned disco-lounge. We arrived just in time for their "reopening party", and the place was jumpin'. I spoke with the owner, whom I have known since the Easy Square days (she ran the 4 U Bar), and she said the official-looking Man In A Too-Tight Uniform was on hand that night to insure the Junk Bar didn't stay open one minute later than 06:00 a.m. in the morning (that's not a misprint). Looks like Josephine's on the roof has some competition. We wish them all best - these late-night Nitespots have to walk a very tenuous line between being 'popular', and too obviously flaunting the official closing times. Shake it, don't break it, gang.
SOI EDENSomebody is doing something right on Soi Eden. Last month, we covered the opening of the downstairs-upstairs The Ring Bar / The Ring Fashion Massage. This month, the (French) owner has expanded not one but two shophouses into the Soi in preparation for opening the Magic Table. It is anticipated that Magic Table will open mid month (June 15th), at which time The Ring, both upstairs and downstairs, will revert to all Fashion Massage, and the Magic Table will be a lounge-pool bar. We'll lay a marker down on this one and get back with full details.
OTHER NIGHTSPOTS OF NOTE
There was a time when Woodstock was King at Nana Plaza - at it's peak, it was the hottest A Go-Go there, with arguably the best sound system (not to mention an enormous library of 'classic' rock music). Somewhere along the way, it reverted to a 'Rock & Roll Pub & Restaurant' - but even that was not all bad - with one of the best menus on the Soi.
But then in February of 2005 it closed down - selling out to the Rainbow group, paving the way for construction of Rainbow 4 A Go-Go. Rumors were flying as to whether or not they would reopen, and if so, where. And, eventually, they finally reopened - in the Side Soi 13 off of Soi Thonglor (55) Sukhumvit.
The new place, now officially known as Woodstock Bar & Grill, seems smaller, as it is spread out on three floors. The ground floor is the bar / restaurant with the same great menu - they must have brought their chef with them. The second floor is a snooker table and a small bar. The 3rd floor is a Sports Bar-Lounge, with large screen TV.
SOI 13 OFF OF SOI THONGLOR (SOI 55) SUKHUMVIT ROAD
NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS DEPARTMENT
WASHINGTON SQUARE(No News)
SOI TWILIGHT(No News)
--- Datzit Fernow
William R. Morledge