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Soi 26 - Too Far ?

Soi 26 - Too Far ?

01 August 2007
William R. Morledge
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August's Nightlife News
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Photo Essay : Sukhumvit Soi 26

Karaoke girls wait on the sidewalk in front of one of the many Japanese Nitespots on Soi 26.
SOI  26

         The Nitelife history of Soi 26 is, on the one hand, quite long and on the other, not that eventful.   It would probably be most accurate to say that Nightlife at this locale, at least for the Expat, began in the early 1970's.   On the completion of the Chokechai Building at the top of the Soi, many of the office units were let out to foreign businesses and US Government-related activities (this was the peak of the Viet Nam Conflict, and the American presence in Bangkok was heavy, to say the least.)   The Chokechai Building (at that time, the tallest in Bangkok) was an 'exclusive' address, and in spite of the awkward architectural layout - and in spite of the fact that the building started to 'list' to the East, the building filled up quickly with Farang.

         Tokyo Joe's has successfully made the switch from it's old digs just down the road a piece on Soi 24.   The blues bash was, needless to say, a total success.
SOI  24

         Then, as now, wherever there was a confluence of Farang activity, 'Night Entertainment' was quick to follow.   There were several small, single shophouse lounge bars that opened in the area over those years, but with few exceptions, none did too well.   Two of the exceptions, however, should go into the 'Bangkok Bar Hall Of Fame' - if there is such a thing.   

         The Soprano House is an exclusive membership club.   We know because we asked.   And because we looked in the parking lot.   Nevertheless, their neon is as remarkable as it is pretentious.
SOI  24

         The first was the Harbor Light, which was an on-again - off-again A Go-Go bar, and the dancers there were not only real A Go-Go dancers (shake it, don't break it), but all were very attractive - often making late night stops at the Thermae if things were slow at the Harbor Light.   This bar was no relation to the Harbor Light in South Pattaya, which was open during the same period, and one of Pattaya's original three A Go-Gos.   

Door Art Of The Month

           Tucked away on a side-soi (see map) Anna's Karaoke has been done up bright and modern.   If they don't make a go of it, it won't be for the lack of bright neon and clean design.

SOI  24

         The second memorable Soi 26 bar of that era was The Trolley.   The Trolley was one of those bars where decor and attitude - and food - were always just perfect.   As an aside, many of the hostesses from The Trolley went on to work at a bar called the Gold Label in a small soi off of Soi Asoke (later to become Soi Cowboy) - but I digress - that's another story - from another place and another time.

         Is this the same "Angel Massage" as found in Washington Square?   You bet.   Same friendly, unambiguous service.
SOI  24

         As the density of US businesses and other activities waned in the late 1970's, the Chokechai Building ceased to provide a source of revenue to the surrounding Night Entertainment Venues.   And while there would be the occasional new attempt to open a Nitespot in the area, the number of bar closures always managed to keep up.   It became a matter of location, location, location in reverse - the location of course hadn't changed, but as often happens, Soi 26 found itself overtaken by 'demographics'.   Soi 26 was all of a sudden a little too far out, too far away from the other newer, bigger, brighter Nitespot Areas, and never quite big enough to become a 'draw' in it's own right.

         The Ayame Club is a Japanese karaoke - or did that go without saying?
SOI  24

         It seemed for all the world that Soi 26 would be relegated to virtual expat anonymity.   But over the last four or five years, since the single-shophouse massage parlor revolution, Soi 26 has undergone a minor facelift.   It is probably no exaggeration to say that the population density of massage parlors (of every concievable permutation, color and flavor) is nowhere higher than at the Sukhumvit side of Soi 26.

SOI  24

         And while there are a few other Night Entertainment Venues on the Soi (most notably Tokyo Joe's -a live blues bar & not Japanese- and a few Japanese Karaoke Bars), for the most part it is home to massage parlor after massage parlor after massage parlor.

         The Rynda Massage, while ambiguous, also tries to attract customers in innovative ways.   For example, while you are getting a foot massage, they will wrap a long "bean bag" of rice and herbs around your neck after having heated it up in the microwave.   Sounds weird, but the heat is long-lasting and very relaxing.
SOI  24

         Unfortunately there is no earth-bound congregation of massage parlors great enough to become a Night Entertainment Area in it's own right - it is a contradiction in terms.   Nevertheless, one can never tell what the future may hold - as Bangkok continues to grow, and as Nitespots continue to 'pioneer' their way into Soi 26, it is well within the realm of possibility that the scene could change into yet another Bangkok Night Entertainment Area.

         In the running for 'Best Door Art' of the month, Garan The Wine Bar seems to do a reasonable business, despite being different in character than the other Night Venues on the Soi.
SOI  24

         Below are more photos of the Nitespots on Soi 26 to round out this month's photo essay.

         We suppose one could refer to this as Invasion Of The Body Masseuses - take a quick count of the number of Massage Parlors - the mind boggles....
SOI  24

SOI  24

The Eid Ko Club seems to be a disco oriented mostly for locals - but not all.
SOI  24

         No, those eyes aren't related to the Bangkok Eyes logo, but, then, here's looking at you, just the same.   The Happy Massage is one of the growing stable of the Teen Massage group - same format as well....
SOI  24

         The large picture window tells the story - the Harmony Massage keep busy throughout the afternoons and nights despite being located almost all the way down to the beginning of the Soi 26 dogleg.
SOI  24

         The Koko Massage & Beauty is the farthest into the Soi : you have to go down to the dogleg, turn left and continue on for another 100 meters.   The masseuses often work quite late.
SOI  24

         The Menthol Massage may just be the only massage parlor in Bangkok that is a Tiger Balm outlet.   The establishment appears to be a 'Tiger Balm' massage parlor - and as far as we could tell, just a straight massage.   (We can't see a happy ending with a masseuse using Tiger Balm, can you?)
SOI  24

         New Massage appears to have an Orientation Oriental. If we could read Japanese, perhaps we could relate to one and all the full name (?)
SOI  24

          The New P & S Karaoke is actually on Sukhumvit Road, but we inlcuded it because it was located close to the long-gone Trolley....   It is mostly "Thai" but, as is usually the case, Farang are welcome.
SOI  24

SOI  24

         Don't let the word 'beauty' in 'Perfect Beauty Salon' mislead you - it (like many other such Nitespots) is first and foremost a massage parlor.
SOI  24

         Ms Phunnee has several Phunnee Massage outlets - her original one being on Soi 22.   Moderately ambiguous.
SOI  24

SOI  24

SOI  24

         There is nothing even remotely unambiguous about Smile Teen Massage.   We have included the second (blow-up) photo -immediately above- to prevent you from getting eye strain.   Although the assumption might be otherwise, the Smile Teen is no relation to the Teen Massage Group.
SOI  24

         The Homm Aroma Therapy are actually located just inside the 'Soprano House' compound, but are easily accessed from the street.
SOI  24

         This Teen Massage 2 is a 'real' 'Teen Massage' - one of the offshoots of the original on Soi Dead Artists. As with the other Teen Massages, it has nothing to do with teens and even less to do with massage.
SOI  24

SOI  24

 Historical Minutiae Dept.


Read All About It
The Q & A Lowdown

Dear sir,

I plan to visit BKK with friends very soon, pls. send detailed info.



      The shorter the question, the longer the answer.   We refer you to our Archives <link> - and once you've covered that, you will have a fair idea of what you have ahead of you.   Enjoy your holiday here.


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  •           We can answer virtually any (reasonable) question on the Expat Night Entertainment Scene in Bangkok - be it Historical or very recent.   Send us an e-mail and we will do our best to answer you soonest.
    'Boge' Hartman
    Historical Research
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    - In the LAND OF SMILES -

              August's awardee of the "Thai Smile" is a young lady who is a 'friend of a friend'.

    ? Old

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    Many Thanks,
    William R Morledge

    Let the August 2007 Follies  begin...
    BANKOK EYES' Expat Night Scene.

      PATPONG  I  
                The Queen's Castle III show bar undergoes a "renovation" about once every six months.   It has got to be the most renovated bar in Bangkok.   Let's just say that after they have paid the price for whatever reason they were really closed down, they will be reopening yet again....
    - File photo


                The Yes... Thaifood Restaurant & Pool Ball is closed - even though they are pretending to be renovating.   Strike them from the rolls.

    - File photo

      PATPONG  II  
                The Strip goes from strength to strength, neon-wise.   Their 'theme' is a modified striptease - and we will say, they have an attractive group of performers.


                Mike's Place appears poised for yet another reincarnation.   Dare we even hope they will reopen with the same flare and aura of excitement as in times of old?   They are, or will be, located deep inside between the Foodland supermarket and Bobby's Marco Polo.


                The Cozy Club was, in fact, closed for just a day or two (see our comment last issue).   Everything status-quo-ante.


      SOI  COWBOY  
               This shot of the Lucky Star (most of you know it by it's lesser name 'Long Gun') is one you may have not seen before - because it is up on the second and third floor, where your eyes are usually not.   Another photo for the historical archives.

     NANA  PLAZA  
                           Nana Plaza seems to be staying busy through the rainy season.   This is another view of Nana Plaza for the archives.

      SOI  KATOEY  
                Gone, but not gone, the Zygosis has reopened with a quiet splash.   While they were getting matters straightened out with the landlord, someone stole their signage - and while they are getting it replaced, they are getting together some entertaining door art....   Welcome them back to this neon trail of tears....

                We greet the Milano Pizzaria Coffee-Shop with some trepidation - on the surface they do not appear to be a 'Night Entertainment Venue", but they do have an extensive drink menu, and they do have a bar....   So we should give them the benefit of the doubt, right?   They are located in the old Home Bangkok Pub digs.   Welcome them as they wade into these dark waters.

                Pop quiz....   The Luminous has a display out front in the soi that captures the imagination.   Have a look at the three photos below and try to guess what you are looking at.

    If you guessed high voltage plasma ribbons
    on a Heineken bottle, then you got it right.

                If we hadn't just seen the number of surviving massage parlors on Soi 26, we would have said that the Dream Heaven Massage was one massage parlor more than the Soi Dead Artists market could bear.   However, now we are not so sure....   Welcome to the dark side of bright city lights.

                 Gone, but not very far, is the 52 Club - it has moved across the lane into a single shophouse next to The Prince of Wales.   Let the beat go on....

                 Jumping into the old 52 Club digs before they could even get cold was Paul Kelly and his The Green Room Bar. He invites one and all over for a quiet beer, either out on the verandah or inside at the bar.   Let's hope Fate deals them more aces and faces....

                 Mykonos, mainly a Thai affair, seems to have doused more than just their neon.   We'll see what shakes out next month (and get back atcha), but things were looking pretty dark and final.....
    - File photo

                The For You bar has stumbled headlong into the abyss, but the Lucky Bar was there to take over the rent payments immediately they disappeared into the maw.   Welcome them as they jump into the unending fodder line of Bangkok bars, past and present.

      SOI  EDEN  
                There always seems to be something going on at The Ring Bar / Magic Table (same owner).   Let the good times roll.

                The Thai Thai Karaoke (that's what the sign says in Thai), has pulled the red carpet out from under it's last paying customer and, perhaps, decided to stay home and watch football?   We don't know - and there was no one there to ask.   Check-bin.
    - File photo

                What we didn't notice last month, when Fresh Boys returned, was that they returned as New Fresh Boys (sticking 'new' in front usually indicates a new owner who doesn't want to pay the money to change the name, but wants to have a 'new' name, just the same).   Keep on keeping on.

                Pop Quiz #2 - It's new name is Caffe Nero, but which of you 'old timers' can tell me what it's original name was?   Hint: it was the infamous Bangkok Night Entertainment Venue that provided 24-7 chicken-farming to the slavering Expat masses during the 1970's and early 1980's....   
    If any of you guessed the Grace Hotel Coffee Shop, you just won yourself sixty-four big ones.   Although virtually dead for several years anyway, this was just the final nail in the coffin.   Woe be us... it's a black night in Entertainmentville.

                Since we were in Soi 3 (your other Nana), we thought we would shoot a couple of newly opened Night Entertainment Venues...   The Salute Pool Bar might be worth your while to visit.

                The Y'Not Bar seems to be one of a very few Nitespots catering to Farang trade in these normally South Asian and African waters.   A relaxed indoor-outdoor atmosphere.   May they avoid becoming just so much grist in Bangkok's neon machine....





    Psychiatric Revelation

    Professor Graham Martin, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Queensland, (& colleagues) have, they say, studied more than 2,600 thirteen-year-olds.   Their findings are, we find, quite remarkable.

    Of the teenagers studied, about 12% of boys and almost 11% of girls had done some graffiti.   (That's about 300 kids....)   "These young people ... were very antisocial on a range of other factors.   They weren't just mildly conduct-disordered, they were scoring to the extreme range of antisocial behaviour," Professor Martin says.   

    He says his study found adolescent graffitists had also already done from six to eight other acts, such as setting fires, beating up people and stealing.   They also had higher rates of drug use, academic failure, physical and sexual abuse, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.   Martin also said (graffiti) tagging conveys " expression of rage against authority".

    And here's where it gets really juicy: Professor Martin underscores the importance of early intervention.   "You can pick many of these young (children) somewhere around the age of three," he says.   "The average kindergarten teacher will tell you, 'I don't like that child, I can't work with them, they spit at me, they spit at the other kids, they hit people, they won't learn'.   .... You can certainly predict which ones will go on to antisocial behaviour (such as) graffiti.......", he stated.

    Professor Martin says conventional handling of young graffiti artists by dealing with them under the legal system will not work.   One of the ways he suggests to help them is for someone in the 'community' to "sit them down ...and say, "Listen, you've had a bit of a shit life haven't you?"

    Well, Professor Martin, open your mind, because here's what the MIDNITE HOUR has to say about that:   First of all, Professor Martin, where are your references to your scientific study - the histories of these 2,600 children?   We expect to see that there has been review and approval of your methodology, all the while under independent university supervision, of course.   And we would like to see who did your peer review.   As this is 'science', you of course know that such an outrageous claim that approximately 12 percent of the (young) population are "'antisocial', and 'rage against society', etc ", would require not just casual concurrence, but rigorous verification.   Anything less, Professor Martin, would be just so much psychobabble, wouldn't you agree?

    Of particular interest to all of us, of course, is the proof that these thirteen-year-old spray-can vandals did in fact grow up to have the deep psychological problems you so boldly proclaim.   We would likewise much like to see the proof that those spitting 3-year-olds grew up to rage against society through graffiti, etc......   (Ahennnnhh....)   And while some may not have picked up on it, we have noted with extreme interest that you have been most circuitous; would you have us believe graffiti writing produces antisocial behavior, or are you trying to show that it is the other way around?   We are reminded of the old joke - where the authorities outlawed making love standing up because it would surely lead to dirty-dancing....

    Suffice it to say, that the typical person-on-the-street would say that such unfounded and entirely outrageous claims, were coming from the mouths of "a bunch of shit-spouting charlatains".   However, we wouldn't put such a fine edge on it ourselves - being the gentlepeople we are.   And as strong as the urge may be to round up all of your ilk and tar-and-feather you and run your useless pseudoscientific butts out of town on a rail, we would prefer to take a different approach:   We suspect that, like ourselves, most thinking people will read your swill and get one heck of a good belly-laugh.   So, then, Professor, do your best to keep us laughing.

    - And now to Bangkok's own brand of Graffiti....

    Graffiti #155
    7 ft high x 8 ft

    Graffiti #156
    3 ft. high x 4 ft.

    Graffiti #157
    8 ft. high x 16 ft.

    Graffiti #158
    8 ft high x 18 ft

    Graffiti #159
    8 ft high x 15 ft.

    Graffiti #160
    6 ft high x 9 ft

    Graffiti #161
    8 ft high x 15 ft

    Graffiti, graffiti , and more Graffiti - Bangkok's original and ONLY graffiti Site !

       The M IDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman .

    (Boge's photo, above, is not a graffiti per-se, although there are those who have insinuated....)    

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                   William R. Morledge


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