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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review


Nightlife Permissiveness

01 May 2011
William R. Morledge

May's Nightlife News
Bangkok's Bars - 10 Years Ago  
A Smile in the Land of Smiles.
Ask Us ! - Old Bar Haunts
Graffiti  -BKK's Midnite Vandals - #66

         Bangkok's, and Thailand's Night Entertainment Scene has always been a two-housed affair.   There has always been a Thai Night Entertainment Scene and a Farang Night Entertainment Scene, and while we cannot say 'never the twain shall meet', the generality, the 99% Rule, remains true.   And what is good for the goose is rarely, if ever, good for the gander.
Police Captain Purachai Piemsombun
Rak Santi Party

      Purachai, as remembered by those in the Night Entertainment Industry during the Thaksin years, is the living embodiment of xenophobic hypocrisy.   He will be looking to take over the Night Entertainment reins once again.

         In the earliest years, when the British East India Company (and it's competitors) were dropping anchor in the Chao Phraya River where Bangkok is today, the bulk of foreign Night Entertainment was constrained to the shanties on both sides of the river, or 'delivered', day and night, by small boats to the ships.   During that time, the Thais had their own Night Entertainment, to include -much as today- massage and related services, as well as the 'unspoken outlets' near the riverside markets.   

         Fast forward to the modern day, just prior to the Viet Nam War era, the Thai Night Entertainment Scene had developed quantitatively and qualitatively - there were 'coffee houses', 'beauty shops', 'dance halls' and other conveniently named brothels reaching from the Burmese to the Cambodian border.   The 'massage parlor' had become an art form, especially in the larger cities.   There were many quietly "famous" brothels in Chinatown and other areas.

         Enter the G.I.s from the Viet Nam War - and it was recognized almost immediately that the Night Entertainment Venues at Khlong Toey Port and the dance halls near New Road, et al, were no longer adequate to contain the surge of farang nightcrawlers.   Certain areas, such as the "New" Petchburi Road from Makkasan Intersection to Ekamai, were developed as Night Entertainment Areas for bars and massage parlors - specifically the newly adopted super-massage parlors (the now infamous steam-and-cream fishbowl massages).   Also, the areas around the GI residence hotels and R&R hotels were opening Night Entertainment Venues (Patpong, etc.).   But note that this was not an entirely random development, as much as it may have seemed to be.   There was, even back in the 1960's the growing 'stigma' to the foreign bar scene.   Bangkok's Foreign Nightcene was seen -even then- by some segments of Thai society to be 'bad'.

         As time progressed, the local xenophobes in Government, and their sycophantic Press convinced themselves that the American G.I. was the cause and source of the evil - they were the ones who brought the 'bad' Night Entertainment Scene and prostitution (!) to Thailand.   And although a modicum of realism has washed over us in recent times, there are still many locals today who sincerely believe the corruption of Thailand was at the hands of the American G.I..   The pendulum of permissiveness slowed to a stop, and although there was nothing official coming down from above, a 'freeze' in permissiveness, at least for the Expat, had been reached - as indicated by the Government's refusal to issue any more A Go-Go licenses (dancing licenses).   There was only so much evil they were willing to see as 'acceptable'.

         The Thaksin Era, however, threw the pendulum of Night Entertainment permissiveness into reverse at an heretofore unheard-of rate, submerging Thailand into a world of Nightlife repressions - at the wringing-hands of Thaksin's self-serving Government hypocrites and xenophobes.   Thaksin's hand-picked hatchet man, his "Mr Clean" to head all this up, was none other than Purachai Piemsombun, who at various times under Thaksin's governments, served as Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister and later Justice Minister.   Purachai even survived after the Coup d'Etat that removed Thaksin in 2006 - he was appointed to the National Legislative Assembly (where he persisted in such absurdities as 12:00 midnite closing...)   Under Purachai's reign of Night Entertainment repression, a cult, a culture of "what-have-you-done-lately-to-help-restore-Thai-Dignity?" developed.   Some of the most ludicrous pronunciamentos to have ever been uttered in public were recorded in the Press under his aegis (see our old issues).

         But those black days, while not short-lived, eventually did end, and the pendulum slowly began to swing back to the other, more liberal side.   And up until recently, the pendulum's direction has not changed.   There are, however, two recent events which have brought back the spectre of old repressions -the shadow of the bad-old-days- at least as far as the foreign Night Entertainment Scene is concerned...

         The first tell-tale event was the news that Songkran revellers -three ladies who had a little too much to drink- removed their tops while dancing in the back of a pickup truck.   This is a no-no -a local offense- which is punishable by a Baht 500 fine (should the local cop-shop see so fit) - something like a traffic ticket.   And there it should have ended, however by the time the local press, the TV stations, the Internet - and finally a Government Ministry got involved - there was no turning back.   The nation's modesty had been outraged, and all the old hypocrites came out to be heard.   And the more they were heard, the more they were ridiculed, both from the Media within, and internationally about making a mountain out of a mole-hill.   And, chain-reaction-like, the more the hypocrites and xenophobes were ridiculed, the more they felt they had to defend their virtue - oh, yes, and their country's virtue.   But we should not confuse the subject with the object - the point is not that Thai officialdom made themselves look like horses-asses, the point is it has re-ignited in high places the old - and much-dreaded repressionist spirit.

         The second event which portends no one any good is that Purachai, our old nemesis from the Thaksin Era, has, this last month, formed the Rak Santi political party, which he leads.   His platform in the upcoming election is "straight as a ruler", and, if elected, he fully intends to resume his rightful place as "Mr Social Order" as he re-establishes his Purachaian cult.

         It is too soon to tell if the pendulum of Expat Nightlife permissiveness has been, or will soon be thrown again into reverse, however there is a lot of apprehension in the Bangkok bar scene, a lot of communal looking over one's shoulder....


          Our Thai Smile this month is being worn by a young lady on the day shift.

? Old

Any old PHOTOS of
Bangkok's Nightlife ?

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Many Thanks,
William R Morledge

 Historical Minutiae Dept.

SuperStar Frank


Any news on where Superstar Frank is located nowadays?   Saw him a long ways back at Noriegas but lost track of him after that.


Greetings, KK.,

I have finally traced down what I believe is his most recent email address (from his brother), and by way of email etiquette, have forwarded your email address to him.   You should be hearing from him soon.

Best of luck,
'Boge' Hartman

  • Email and "ASK" - -   Click Here
  •           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
    * Zootramp Publications

    Let the May 2011 Follies  begin...
    BANKOK EYES' Expat Night Scene.

      PATPONG  I  

                The nightly live bands at the Muzzik Cafe are generally of a higher quality - usually singing/ playing old rock or pop.   The Muzzik Cafe is open-sided, having inside-outside seating.
      PATPONG  I  

      PATPONG  II  
                Last month we commented the soon-to-be-opened King Corner Net; on how it didn't seem practical to have an Internet shop in a lounge bar configuration - unless there was an extensive renovation.   Well, we were wrong, they have provided two rows of computers with ample seating - one row on each side as you walk in.   But if you are looking for an Internet Cafe, you are wasting your time - the King Corner Net is a dedicated on-line casino.   It is the first of it's kind - at least in an Expat Night Entertainment Area.   We hope they know what they are doing... shake it don't break it, as Mukda used to say...   May the nightwinds blow kindly........

      PATPONG  II  

                Rig One Gold was not dead, they were only playing 'possum.   And this is good news.   After a couple of months' down-time, they are back in the thick of it.   Keep on keeping on.
    - File photo         

      PATPONG  II  

                The Three Lady's has also arisen from the ashes - closed last month (again), they are now back at it, pedal to the metal.   Welcome back to playland.
    - File photo         
      PATPONG  II  

      SOI  COWBOY  
    Door Art Of The Month

                   The Country Road, having physically completed their excellent renovations, was having trouble with their electrician (or so we suspect).   All appears to be resolved, however, and the place is looking good.   May they persevere.

      SOI  COWBOY  

    Advertising Pays

                    Up until recently Penny Black didn't advertise.   It wasn't that long ago that it was "word-of-mouth" only.   But now we are seeing the shift - no longer Cowboy's 'best-kept-secret', all are welcome to their upstairs pub and disco.   (Known to keep late hours on occasion...)

      SOI  COWBOY  

     NANA  PLAZA  
                A for-the-archives shot of the Billboard.   Manager Dave the Rave says the (3rd floor) bar has now been upgraded on the inside as well.   It looks like, at least for the time being, Dave has found a way to coax people upstairs - a major task in itself.   Let the good times roll.

      NANA  PLAZA  

                When we passed by Strikers last month, we had to do a double-take.   It had expanded from one shophouse to three.   I do believe we were the last to know about this....   Keep up the good works.
      NANA  PLAZA  

                For the last three months, a small "game of chance" parlor has been operating underneath the escalator.   It doesn't look like any heavy-duty betting is going on - apparently something to keep the drivers, etc, occupied.
      NANA  PLAZA  

      SOI  KATOEY  
                A for-the-archives shot of the ever-expanding neon of Soi Katoey.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4)

                As we have stated on several occasions, it looks like Soi Katoey is losing it's 'gay' orientation.   The Sugar Bowl Bar & Restaurant serves up light meals for consumption within - or out on the front verandah.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4)


                Tenderloins Sports Bar and Steak House are planning a relocation to a nearby venue - we shall keep you advised.   Meanwhile they are still going strong at the original location.

                The Dream Heaven Massage has added a bit of (sponsored) neon.   Not that the original neon was inadequate....   Business (specialty massages) as usual....

                The Bongo Club has plummeted into the abyss head first.   It is hard to say why it didn't work - they had an active and attractive coyote crew...

                The Monet will be moving.   The photo below is of the new sign at the Dali.   We spoke to them, and it seems that they may not move for up to 3 months.   That sounds a little vague to us - a lot can happen in three months.... we'll keep an ear to the ground on this.   Meanwhile, the Monet continues to romp at it's original location.   Wishing them constancy.
    - iPhone 4 pic          

                A for-the-archives pic of the three pubs; the Happy Pub, the Cheers Pub and The Puss Inn Pub - all seem to have lasted the test of time.

                The 3-Sisters Bar has indeed found new lessees, and have reopened last this month.   They have maintained the original modus operandi - and look good to go.   Welcome them to the machine.

                Having dropped by the Cockwell Inn several days ago, and finding it quiet, I decided to pass by and commiserate with the owner.   By the time I got there, they were having a real Wang Dang Doodle - some kind of a party goin' on.   SRO.   Good to see the upturn.


                The Platinum has once again closed their doors.   We note the chattel is still inside - let's wait and see.....

      SOI  EDEN  
                Once again the Magic Table takes the lead in entertainment on Soi Eden.   This is the Soi's only A Go-Go, by the way.
      SOI  EDEN    SUKHUMVIT  SOI  7/1

                The Balls The Sports Bar has nose-dived into oblivion.   The Darwinian Imperative plays no favorites.   Ashes to ashes - so be it, then....



    Bangkok Eyes jumps back in time to have a look at who was new - and who was through.   We'll be willing to bet that many of you "Old Bangkok Hands" will be reminded of some bars you'd almost forgotten.   (We also will be willing to bet you WON'T EVEN REMEMBER an even greater number....)

    10 YEARS AGO  :
          A decade ago, the Be Be Club Pub & Karaoke up on The Ramp reclosed - one month after reopening.   This time, however, it would stay closed.   It was located between the Rig 1 Gold and Kob's Place - there is currently no Nitespot at that location.
    PATPONG  2 -   May 2001

          Ten years ago, the King's Palace, located on Soi Bookstore, closed it's doors for the final time.   
    PATPONG  2 -   May 2001

          A decade ago, the New A Go Go Duck (Juke's) reopened (having closed in January 2001).   They were located in the real estate now occupied by Shark.
    SOI  COWBOY -   May 2001

          Noriega's, having only opened the month before, closed again.   It would not reopen until August 2002 - the mysterious closure was never explained.   Nomads is now in that location.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4) -   May 2001

          A decade ago, this month, the 420 opened it's doors in the 401 digs (next door to Helene's).   The 401 lasted only one month.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4) -   May 2001

          Ten years ago this month, The Underground Music Bar closed - it appeared that they were renovating, but in fact, had cashed in their chips.   They were located at the back of the Soi on the left (going in).
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4) -   May 2001

          At 33 Music Restaurant opened ten years ago in the 33 Complex.   
    SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS- (SUKHUMVIT  SOI  33) -   May 2001

           A decade ago, in the Peep Inn Park complex, an (unnamed nitespot) reopened on the ground floor between Club Fuchicho and Phoenix Lounge.   The Hibari is currently occupying that real estate.
    SOI  DEAD  ARTISTS- (SUKHUMVIT  SOI  33) -   May 2001

    ASOKE  PLAZA  /  ASOKE  CORNER - (previously Cowboy Annex) - 2001

    Asoke Corner / Asoke Plaza
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( May 2000 - May 2005 )

                 Ten years ago, Kiss Bar opened it's doors, figuratively at least, for the first time.   The took over the reins from the then-recently closed Bourbon.

                 A decade ago, the Pen Karaoke Restaurant Drink bar beer opened it's doors for the first time.   They were located on the Soi 23 side.

    ASOKE  PLAZA  /  ASOKE  CORNER - (previously "COWBOY ANNEX") - May 2001

    CLINTON  PLAZA   - 2001

    Clinton Plaza
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( May 1998 - 7 June 2003 )

          A decade ago, the Rock Hard Bar Beer opened in Clinton Plaza (next to the Wind Mill) - and directly opposite it's parent, Rock Hard A Go-Go.
    CLINTON  PLAZA   - May 2001

    TOBACCO  ROAD   - May 2001

    Tobacco Road (Soi Zero)
    Night Entertainment Area
    ( ~ May 1988 - 9 June 2006 )

                Ten years ago, this month, the Mad Dogs bar beer opened it's doors for the first time.   They were located at the front, second in, on the left.

    TOBACCO  ROAD  - 2001



    [ Check out Bangkok's dedicated Graffiti page at " BKK"  <link>. ]


    Ai Weiwei - who, indeed, is afraid of him...?

    China : Dissidence Is Futile


             China, having seen the wondrous success of the "Singapore Model" (of 99% free enterprise - 1% behavioral divergence), has taken it a step further.   Or perhaps much more than just a step.   Where, in Singapore, dissidents are sued, ridiculed and marginalized, in China they are, at best, imprisoned, and at worst, 'disappeared'.   Just like that.

             Each of Chinese officialdom's vile violations against dissidents causes a stir in the Western Press : everyone and his uncle speaks out in the Media against the latest barbarous official act....   And then the Media, like their fickle readership, their fickle viewership, seems to forget all about that particular 'dissident outrage' as soon as a more recent one 'goes viral'.   

             The latest sensation on the 'China Dissident Newsfront' is the disappearance of China's internationally acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei and the previously unheard-of outbreak of supportive graffiti appearing in, and on, Hong Kong's streets.   And before that, many of us, -or perhaps some of us- remember the imprisonment of Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (you'd already forgotten him, hadn't you?).   But before that, who remembers the 6-year imprisonment and death-in-prison of writer Li Hong?   Who remembers the 10-year imprisonment of writer Li Xianbin before that?   Or the fate of cyber-dissident Wang Xiaoning?   Or this year's house arrest of dissident writer Yu Jie?   Or He Depu, beaten and imprisoned for 8 years?   You, and your ignorance, are not excused because all the names look alike....   There are more than 30 writers -that we know about- who are currently imprisoned in China for the crime of 'dissidence'.   Our Western Media seems to have 'gone cold' on these other 29 individuals.....   (Note: the formula has long been in place - those who are suspected of being 'dissidents' are first branded "mavericks" -which has a separate connotation in China- then accused of "economic crimes".)

             All of this criticism from the Western Media, of course, is water off the Middle Kingdom's back, they could care less as long as their economic dragon continues to breathe fire.   The Chinese simply could not care less what the Western Press work up in their own minds - if Chinese officialdom comments at all on these subjects, it is to tell the West to stop meddling in their internal affairs.   (- Or perhaps, just to stick the pudao in and twist it a little for fun, they will rant on about poverty and injustice in the U.S.A. or imprisonment in Gitmo - you get the idea....)   

             And are the Chinese likely to change their ways?   Since before, but much more acutely after Tien An Men Square, they have been pursuing the single policy of nipping everything that looks like dissidence in the bud.   The Uighur uprising in time for the 2008 Olympics, and then the 2009 uprising in occupied Tibet, and now the so-called Jasmine revolution (although external) have continued to harden the resolve of the Chinese leadership.   Add to that, what the Chinese perceive as the 'nightmare' of the Internet - and we see why the levels of personal freedom and expression in China are falling, not improving.   And there is nothing on the horizon to indicate a change in direction of that plummeting graph-line.

             More is the mystery, then, that Hong Kong has found itself awash in a wave of very public graffiti in support of Ai Weiwei.   Naturally, authorities are under severe pressure to locate the offending stenciller - at which time he most certainly will be branded a 'maverick'.   However, to date said graffitist, as yet, has not been identified.   One only hopes that the Chinese don't adopt the all-too-Thai trait of 'scapegoating', or worse, take it out on Ai Weiwei.

    This just in...

    29 April 2011
    Hong Kong

    Projector-Graffiti Not A Hit With China Military

             China's Army, the largest standing military force in the world, is up in arms over projector-graffiti which was displayed on their Hong Kong barracks.   The military claimed that likenesses of the currently detained dissident artist Ai Weiwei, which also included the script, "Who's afraid of Ai Weiwei?" were projected on their facilities - and was a breach of the law.   They have threatened legal action against the perpetrators.   Hong Kong police, however, have stated that no crime has been committed.   It is perhaps, then, the extra-legal action that the perpetrators should be concerned about....

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

    Graffiti #463
    7 ft. high x 15 ft.

    Graffiti #464
    Crew Change
    6 ft. high x 20 ft.

    Graffiti #465
    Little Drops
    7 ft. high x 51 ft.

    Graffiti #466
    Mag Wheels
    7 ft. high x 10 ft.

    Graffiti #467
    Miss Tical
    7 ft. high x 15 ft.

    Graffiti #468
    7 ft. high x 7 ft.

    Graffiti #469
    7 ft. high x 12 ft.

    Graffiti, Graffiti , and more Graffiti - Bangkok's original 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)

     --- Datzit Fernow

    William R. Morledge

    Copyright 2002 - 2011,   BANGKOK EYES /

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