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2007 - Looking Back

William R. ''Will''  Morledge,   News page correspondent (Midnite Hour) and contributing editor -
 book reviews.
01 January 2008
William R. Morledge

Ask Us - Patpong 1 - January '94
A Thai Smile......
January's Nightlife News
Graffiti - Bangkok Art Vandals # 27

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             start the "Double-Infinity" year off properly (for all you numerologists), the Midnight Hour presents a review of the historically significant changes in Bangkok's Nightscene for the year 2007.   In our surveys of the Expat 'Nightscape' each month, we note that there are anywhere from six to twelve Night Entertainment Venue openings, closings, reopenings, renovations... - however among those various 'venues-in-transition' there are but a few each year that have an historical impact on our Sin City Night Entertainment Scene.
         To be sure, our criteria for selecting what is 'historically significant' in this annual review is entirely arbitrary - for example, we generally would not report on the closure of a bar that had been in existence less than ten years (with certain exceptions).   Below is our summation of those changes (mostly closures, unfortunately), as well as other newsworthy items that impacted "The Scene" in 2007.

January 2007

Bombs Blast Bangkok
Photo excerpts: AFP & CNN respectively
Left: A tourist injured in one of the bomb blasts.   Right: A soldier guards a bomb-damaged bus stop at the Victory Monument.
            Last New Year's Eve saw eight bombs detonated around the city.   Six of these were detonated at about 06:30 p.m. in what was apparently a well coordinated effort to bring mayhem to this Capitol city.   There were initial reports of 3 dead, an expat among them, and perhaps three dozen injured.   Two other bombs were detonated later in the Pratu Nam area at around midnight - bringing the total number of explosions to eight.   Further injuries were reported in one of those explosions.
         Although the timing of the bombings was obviously intended to disrupt the large number of New Years revellers, thereby sending the strongest possible message to the Government - they, in retrospect, failed miserably.   While the bombings did disrupt the annual New Year's Eve 'count down' at the Central World (old World Trade Center), it was business as usual in the traditional expat Night Entertainment Areas around Bangkok.   Note: we can vouche for this, as our intrepid historian, "Boge" Hartman jumped on the back of a motorcycle taxi with his trusty camera and visited each Nitespot Area between the hours of midnight and 02:00 hrs.
         The bombers' failure to disrupt the New Years' festivities, however, was not the primary failure.   Due to the political interplay between the ruling interim Military Government, the sometimes-allied National Police Force and the remnants of the then disgraced Taxin Government, no investigation into these 3 murders was ever initiated.   What greater shame, what greater disregard for the rule of law could there possibly be than that which would allow the slaughter of innocent citizens and visiting foreigners to go uninvestigated?   How could it be that a civilized nation could allow political expediency to 'overrule' the murderous slaughter of human beings?   In spite of this undigestible travesty, however, it is still not unexpected (after all, how could Bangkok's Men In Too-Tight Uniforms be expected to investigate themselves?   For example.   How, indeed?)
         It's been a full year - there has been lip service to the public about issuing warrants; there have been promises of investigations.   Nothing has been done - nothing will be done.   Add this to the ever-growing list of crimes against the populace that will never be resolved - sweep three more bodies under the national carpet.

Hog's Breath's last breath
            The rumors finally came true last January, when one of Nana Plaza's 'long established' bars, the Hog's Breath Inn called, "Time," for the last time.   The premises were taken over by Spankys, next door; the end result was yet another double-shophouse wide A Go-Go bar in the NEP.

February 2007

Prasithipol Dance Bar closes

            No one can put an exact age on the now-defunct Prasithipol Dance Bar, however it was in it's heyday some fifty years ago.   Located in the then-Port & Customs area of Yannawa on Soi Wanglee, it remained a favorite waterfront Night Entertainment Venue even after 1951, when the major port facilities shifted farther south to Khlong Toey.
         The Prasithipol also had the distinctions of having been Bangkok's  first licensed Night Entertainment Venue, as well as having a most rare collection of ancient bottles of booze - all on display.   Alas, in spite of the media-flurry in February, and our write-up in our March edition, very few made the pilgrimage down to the riverside to see "The Prasithipol" before it faded into history.   We are fortunate to have been able to go down and talk to the current owner (whose memories of The Prasithipol from when she was just a young girl proved most enlightening) - and to snap a few photos for the historical record.

May 2007

Pam's is no more

            Pam's Cocktail Lounge, home of 'Nice Go-Go Dancing', ceased to exist on 28 May last year, but they did so in style - with a most friendly 'goodbye party'.   Pam's was from another era - the last of the old-time single-shophouse bars on Soi Cowboy, and will be missed by many expats who considered Pam's to be "their bar".   The lower photo of Pam, taken on closing night, was generously contributed by ATM Charlie - we remain deeply indebted.

July 2007


            The Grace Hotel Coffee Shop is dead - long live the Grace Hotel Coffee Shop.   Referred to as just "The Grace", it was, literally, the stuff of legend.   It's heyday as a Night Entertainment Venue was from 1975 to about 1981, during which time it shared equal infamy in Thailand with the scurrilous Mosquito Bar in Khlong Toey and Bangkok's underground Thermae Coffee Shop (we refer to the original Thermae at the top of Soi 13).
         The Grace was also known by other names, to include "The Chicken Farm", and "The Amazing Grace" and even "Skylab" to those who didn't know better.   It was open 24/7 and had three jukeboxes blaring anytime and all the time - most notoriously thumping out "Black Superman" ("....Mahammad Ali - floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee...") on all three - never quite in synch.   Today, there are a few freelancers still hanging around the Caffe Nero and the lounge bar on the mezzanine, however it is more than apparent that the era of the Grace Coffee Shop is gone - as in, "you can never go back".
         The Grace shall go down in Night Entertainment History as the superlative example of a 'Freelancer Bar' - not even the old Thermae could claim to be a 24-hour meat-market.   By the time it was replaced by the Caffe Nero last June, it had already been a 'dead man walking' for several years; no longer the outrageously 'successful' day-and-night pickup spot, it's death was truly a coup de grace.

August 2007

Chuwit guilty of pillaging
Sukhumvit Square Bars

            In the dead of night on 26 January 2003, Chuwit "Sia Ang" Kamolwisit, erstwhile Massage Parlor / Brothel kingpin-cum-politician, secretly orchestrated a military Mafia decimation of a large commercial area at the top of Sukhumvit Soi 10.   It would instantly become international news - a further reminder that Thailand had a long way to go to convince the outside world that it could provide a stable society and sound economic base for foreign investment.   Sixty of those establishments pillaged by his minions were the Night Entertainment Venues comprising what was called Sukhumvit Square Night Entertainment Area.
         In August of last year, some four and a half years later, the courts, in unparalleled mockery of 'rule of law', fined Chuwit and four other defendents a total of 5.7 million baht (about $150,000) total, which would be paid out to only 8 plaintiffs (there were over 120 shops / shopowners doing business at the time of the destruction).   Note: this amount of 5.7 M baht wouldn't even cover the cost of construction of the Studio 54 A Go-Go, completed only a month before it was destroyed - let alone the under-the-table "tea money" they paid out just to be allowed to set-up.
         One can only imagine that paying lip-service to Justice through the levying of ludicrously low fines -in lieu of long prison sentences- is meant to fool some of the people some of the time.   Are we disappointed?   No; only those harboring the most unrealistic of expectations will feel any disappointment at all....

Original Cowboy's last roundup
            Having had the same owner for quite some time, the four shophouses that housed -at various times- the Cowboy One, the Cowboy Two and, later, Spice Girls had, over the years, gone through quite a bit of 'musical chairs' regarding which bar was in which shophouse(s).   So it is rather academic that it was the Cowboy One (originally Cowboy Bar) that was the bar that closed when Spice Girls expanded into a double-shophouse A Go-Go bar.   Nevertheless, the Cowboy One did close last August - with very little fanfare, we might add.   Historically, however, this closing of what was nominally the original Cowboy Bar was the most significant event on Soi Cowboy for the year 2007.

Apache despatched to
Happy Hunting Ground

            The Apache on Soi Cowboy, long ago the Quiet Spot, then John & Tong's Apache, then just plain Apache had stood the test of time - having become a regular stop for many of Bangkok's expats.   For whatever reasons, it found a way out from under it all, by finding a buyer -who in turn (by last August), renovated it and renamed it the Coyote.

Irish Pub - the final 'Check-Bin'
            The Irish Pub (nee D.L. Irish Pub) closed down last August and would eventually become the (new) Shadow Bar.   Some of you long-term residents and return visitors may remember way-back-when, when it was the Bamboo bar.   The times, in Soi Cowboy, they are still a-changin'.

September 2007

Trade Winds' final blow
            The Trade Winds, Patpong II's long-time in-the-corner bar, had gone through a couple of temporary closures this last year; one renovation and another downsizing - the handwriting was on the wall.   This last September, however the candle blew out, or perhaps, just burned out altogether.   They were soon replaced by the Ninety-Nine, however.

October 2007

Cleopatra dead after long illness
            The Cleopatra's 'day in the sun' (or should we say 'night in the klieg lights'?) was in the late 1980's, when it used to be a romp.   Anyone 'doing Patpong' would almost surely be including a stop at the Cleopatra.   However, when the Patpongs 'turned the corner', Night Entertainment-wise, by leasing out a nearly-infinite number of brik-a-brak stalls down the middle of the street, the Cleopatra -along with virtually all the other bars- began to suffer.   It has been a long illness, but this last October, perhaps mercifully, they unplugged the last of the Cleopatra's life-support systems.   In December it became the Sao Za On.

November 2007

Sukhumvit 1 Plaza goes under
            After a three-year run at it, nobody seemed to be happy - least of all the bar owners.   No one was, it seems, making any money.   Surprise, surprise.   Sukhumvit 1 Plaza's building owner thought he saw a way out, however, by redeveloping the premises for an as-yet specified use.
         The owner terminated (didn't renew) the lease with the prime lessee, who had, in turn, leased the individual loc to the various bar owners, so now that the prime lease was expiring (30 November last year), it would mean that the bars themselves would have to wind down operations by that date.   They were given one month's notice to vacate the premises, regardless of their capital investment, regardless of the amount of tea money or advance rent already laid out.   Needless to say, this caused a fair amount of friction between the bar owners and the prime lessee, who eventually told them they would, maybe, get some of their money back.
         Nevertheless, amid a considerable amount of ill-feeling, the Sukhumvit 1 Plaza closed on schedule - many of it's sixteen Night Entertainment Venues relocating to other locations.

 Historical Minutiae Dept.


The Butterfly Bar
A Flap Of Nostgalgia's Wings

Hello Bangkok,

         I believe it was in the Midnight Hour column that I saw that you had a data base of bars and I see that you have maps of most of the bar areas.   How far back do you keep your data base?   When I first came to Bangkok in January 1994 I used to go to a bar named Butter Fly - and I think it was on the main Patpong Road.   It was a great place, most friendly.   Just wondering if it's still there?   Do you have a map that shows Patpong during that era?

E. Turner

Hello E,

         If I can take a small liberty with your spelling and change "Butter Fly" into "Butterfly", there was definitely such a bar on Patpong I in January of 1994.   It billed itself as a Video-Teque.   It was owned by the same person that owned Mike's Place on Patpong II.   Neither bar is open today, the Butterfly having sold out to the King's Group, becoming the Camelot Castle.   Check out our January 1994 Night Entertainment Map of Patpong I below.   Note: there was also a Butterfly Bar on Soi Cowboy during those years - however no relation to the one on PP I.


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    - In the LAND OF SMILES -

              This month's "Thai Smile" award goes to one of the attractive lasses at the Nana Disco.

    ? Old

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    William R Morledge

    Let the January 2008 Follies  begin...
    BANKOK EYES' Expat Night Scene.

      PATPONG  I  
                Below - a shot of four of the King's Group bars all in a row: King's Castle II, the Kings Castle I, the Camelot Castle and the Queen's Castle.   This, for the archives.
      PATPONG  I  

      PATPONG  II  
                 Pinocchio's Club close-contact bar have reopened this last month, and are continuing to march as if they hadn't missed a beat.   We wish them constancy.

      PATPONG  II  

                 The Sisters used to use "Take Two" as a tag-line - now it seems it's more part of the name itself....   In spite of the location on the 4th floor of the Cosmo's stairwell (opposite Foodland), they seem to be getting busier.   Let the good times roll.

      PATPONG  II  

                 Last month the Star of Light had a sign out saying they were closed for a day, or so, to go partying - and it looks like that was the case, as they are back up to speed for the New Year.


                The Sao Za On have officially taken over the old Cleopatra digs - things will never be the same again....   The Sao Za On will be catering to Lum Sing Isarn music and dance - only time will tell whether this was someone's bright idea or whether it was a good idea.   Welcome them to the neon crap-shoot.

      SOI  COWBOY  
                 The Joy Ngwen Bar have got with the Soi Cowboy 'neonization program' and have dropped up an eye-catching neon shingle of their own.   And while they were at it, they have shortened their handle to just "Joy".   The interior renovation is going to take a little longer.

     NANA  PLAZA  
                 While the Erotica sign may say they have sexy girls dancing on two floors, that is just no longer the case.   The upstairs dance floor has given way to pool tables (to be completed this January)..   But that is not the real news - the big item is the Mercury A Go-Go Club (same owner), directly below, will be closing down, renovating, and be reopening as a part of Erotica - and will be a lounge-type bar - more or less....   We will have full details later.


      SOI  KATOEY  
                We started out to shoot the Bearbie's new neon (opened last month), and noticed that Luminous also had upgraded theirs.   We thought we'd snap two birds with one shot.   Lookin' good.

                The elephants are .....back - this one almost stepping on a Toyota to get to the sugar cane I was buying for it..   They have not only reappeared here on Soi Dead Artists, but out in front of all the Expat Night Entertainment Venues.   Inasmuch as the Municipality keeps relegating the elephants and their mahouts to the countryside, and inasmuch as they keep reappearing, one can only conclude that Bangkok has a serious smuggling problem.   How does one smuggle not one, but many elephants into Bangkok -repeatedly- and not get caught?   We guess it's a good thing they don't want to smuggle something big into town.

    Door Art Of The Month

              Actually - we have an unusual request; If you can wait until the 9th of January, we will be allowed by the owner to put up the Door Art Of The Month photos we shot the other night.   We have, of course, acceded to his request not to publish until then - and have, instead, published a file photo as a temporary fill-in.

    SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS  -  SOI  33

                If you happen to be walking past the Bourbon Street and see what appears to be a very large, well equipped pool lounge next door, that's because what it appears to be is what it is.   Accessed, of course, through Bourbon Street.


                The brand new Minogue's had their soft opening on Christmas day - and they still have a little bit of interior work to do before they are happy with it.   They took over from the Kamome Club, which said it's final sayonaras at the beginning of last month.   Welcome Minogue's to the vicissitudes.


                The Plearn Karaoke is opening and closing their front door like a hound dog's mouth a-yappin'.   Closed yet again, we suspect that if they haven't already cashed in their chips, they are on their way to the egress.

                The Luna has sold out - lock, stock and chrome barstool to the brand spanking new Nan's Bar.   Nan's have done some good things with the backlighting, and have opened their doors to all.   Wish them well as they cast their fate to the nightwinds.


      SOI  EDEN  
                It takes all kinds.   And at the Blue Lightning on Soi Eden, they have some of all of it.
    SOI  EDEN  -  SOI  7/1

                The New Fresh Boy is now the Fresh Boy X.   We have no idea what's behind all the name-changing lately, but our guess is it's not that important - the show goes on....

                 The Coyote Bar & Grill at the top of Soi Dead Artists (Sukhumvit 33) has only been open a couple of weeks but looks like things are already getting more interesting.

      SUKHUMVIT  @  SOI  33  

                 The Gazebo is located on the top floor of what used to be Sukhumvit 1 Plaza in the old Josephines digs (later, the Black & White).   The place is done up very nicely, and they have expensive tastes; we hope you do.   A soda water is 110 baht after opening-days' discount.   The other half of Gazebo, the disco, will be open in about a week.   By the way, we hear that some other "high-class" lounges are destined for the ground floor, starting in the old Sexy Bar and DC.10-II areas at the back.   We'll put a marker down on this and get back atcha.

      SUKHUMVIT  @ SOI  1  



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

    Graffiti #190
    6 ft high x 5 ft

    Graffiti #191
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    7 ft. high x 18 ft.

    Graffiti #192
    6 ft. high x 4 ft.

    Graffiti #193
    8 ft high x 5 ft

    Graffiti #194
    Un Poco Loco
    4 ft high x 4 ft.

    Graffiti #195
    Smiley's People
    7 ft high x 25 ft

    Graffiti #196
    Solient Brown
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    Graffiti, Graffiti , and more Graffiti - Bangkok's original and ONLY graffiti Site !

       The MIDNITE 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....   - Ed)

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    William R. Morledge

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