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Bangkok's Night Scene In Review


Bangkok Noir

01 June 2013
William R.  Morledge

June's Nightlife News
Bangkok's Bars - 10 Years Ago  
A Smile in the Land of Smiles.
Hello !  Anybody Home?
Graffiti  -BKK's Midnite  Vandals - #92


      oir - as applied to the arts - is a word, a genre, a movement that even many of the purveyors of same find hard to define.   And when it is applied to our local version, 'Bangkok Noir', it sometimes becomes impossible to get a clear answer as to what the term encompasses.   However, the one universal, inescapable element is it's link (to whatever greater or lesser degree) to the 'Bangkok Night Scene'....

Manifestations of 'Bangkok Noir'...

      Noir is simply 'black' in French and is as old as the Modern French language.   However Noir as applicable to an art genre, a school of expressionism or, say, a 'movement', goes back to exactly 1946 when French critic Nino Frank first coined the term 'Film Noir'.   He used the term to describe certain Hollywood films of that era that, generally, were typified by stark cinematic production, a harsh realism -often with bleak 'Gothic' backdrops- whose cynical, jaded characters were caught up in edgy, often sinister plots.

Chris Coles - seemingly channeling the German Expressionists, yet all the while capturing the realities of Bangkok's neon & black light Nightscene.

      In the decades since Frank coined the term, the 'intellectual' debate has continued to boil over as to whether Film Noir is a true genre, or is it, perhaps, a mere meld of earlier German Expressionist cinematography and Gothic Fiction?   Or is it just a twist on the old fashioned 'melodrama'?   Or is it some other derivative or hybrid?   Nevertheless, in spite of it's myriad detractors, Film Noir has survived not only the onslaught of criticism, but the test of time - not even those holdout cinematic / literary Luddites are able to ignore, or pretend they do not understand what is meant by 'Film Noir'.

20-20 night vision :   Ralf Tooten - photographer, chronicler, capturing Bangkok's midnite-'till-dawn denizens...

      It is relevant to note that early 20th Century Film Noir cinematic productions were, almost exclusively, deemed to be "noir" long after their appearance in theaters - those producing these films did not consider themselves Film Noir directors, producers, etc.   This includes many films that were made prior to Nino Frank's coining of the phrase.   Some examples of those very early black and white films now considered to be classic Films Noir are Private Detective (1933), and the erstwhile 'horror classics' Dracula (1931) and The Mummy (1932) - whose 'noir' production values and command of 'mood' are worshiped to a greater extent than the tales of fright themselves.   It follows, and comes as no big surprise that the 'hard-boiled' detective fiction of Raymond Chandler (Phillip Marlowe stories) and Daschiell Hammett (Sam Spade) were made into movies - and that these films have been, in turn, and in due time, referred to as Film Noir.

Frank Miller's superb modern day Film Noir classic Sin City - spawned from his Dark Horse Books graphic novels.   

      And there is valid reason for not rushing forward to dub a film with the label 'Film Noir'.   A motion picture was, is, and always will be judged by how we 'see' it in the morning, and what we think of it next week, or watching it again years from now. It is not just a simple sum of it's parts.   It is not enough to make a film in harshly lit black and white, with borderline characters entangled in a story of intrigue and hardship and deception with a less than 'happy ending' and then say, 'This is Noir'.   While Film Noir is not a 'psychological drama' per se, it shall behoove the director to create the psychological backdrop which, in turn, must create the dark 'mood' in the viewer / reviewer.   Film Noir therefore exists in the viewer, not on the screen.   This being said, it would be presumptuous in the extreme for a creator of such works to self-proclaim, "I have produced Noir".

      As if to validate it's own raison detre, 'noir-ness' (if I can invent a new word) has not stayed in film - in the example of Chandler, Hammett and other 'hard-boiled' authors, works which spawned several Films Noir are often in turn categorized as 'noir' themselves.   Again, in retrospect, another such example is the dark, dime novels of the 1930s whose fringe-sociopath protagonists (as typified by The Shadow and it's several imitators), have since come to be classified as a part of the 'noir' genre.   As have many of their (natural) successors; today's Graphic Novels (Sin City comes to mind most handily).

The Shadow, Walter B Gibson's prototype pulp fiction series was also a forerunner of today's Graphic Novel.   It was widely read in the 1930's, and was to influence many others' writings.   It has been recognized, in hindsight, as one of the early American 'noir' writings.

      While all 'Noir' is derivative - and has grown out of, and from, Film Noir, it seems this concept - this genre - has far outgrown it's film origins.   This 'philosophy of mood' has been employed not only to categorize film and graphic / printed literature but has more recently been applied to the arts of photography and painting.   The works of a given photographer are 'noir'.   The paintings of a given painter are 'noir'.

      Which brings us back to the heart of the matter; today's Bangkok Noir 'movement'.   In that today's vision of 'Noir' as expressed in the Bangkok Noir movement and the Bangkok Night Scene are invariably intertwined to a greater or lesser extent, Midnight Hour has been, and remains a keen observer.   One of our primary, and inescapable, observations is that this relatively recent movement is a coordinated effort by several of it's proponent 'authors' to create public awareness and a certain 'mystique' about several of their works, paintings and photography.

Dashiell Hammett's Maltese Falcon introduced Sam Spade, the prototype 'hard-boiled' detective, to American literature.   He was to influence many other writers, up to and including today's.   His book -and others that followed, like Raymond Chandler's (Phillip Marlowe) stories- have been made into movies.   These films are viewed today as prime examples of Film Noir.

      But putting aside any presumptuousness on the part of the current Bangkok Noir advocates, it appears that a select number of these pretenders to the 'noir' throne will in fact "make it to the future" - at least with respect to their works being accepted as having contributed to the Noir genre.   And it can be said that there are others who appear to be along for the ride, hoping the Noir wave will take them all the way to shore.   And in fairness, it can also be said that the jury is still out on one or two others.

      We caveat that we have no special foreknowledge (our crystal ball being broken), and that our opinions are just that: opinions.   Nevertheless, in our view, we see three individuals who stand apart from the rest of the Bangkok Noir pack.   The most important shared attribute : they produce original works on Bangkok, and secondarily, they also maintain a realistic view of Bangkok's 'other side' (rather than the all-too-common, all-too-cliched blanket-cynicism seen elsewhere in the marketplace).

      The aforementioned three are listed herein:

One is an author :  Christopher G Moore.
One is an artist :  Chris Coles.
One is a photographer :  Ralf Tooten.

      We see these three individuals, and their disparate works 'holding up' - withstanding the test of time (without prejudice to other aspects of their works), and likely -sooner or later- to be viewed as Noir.


June's Thai Smile had a pleasant, lightly freckled smile for everyone...

? Old

Any old PHOTOS of
Bangkok's Nightlife ?

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Many Thanks,
William R Morledge

 Historical Minutiae Dept.

A Missing Link


I really love your web site, but what happened to June/2013 ?


I go to your site every month.
I love it.

Greetings, F,

Flattery will get you everywhere.

Regrettably the Midnight Hour experienced a number of 'technical problems beyond our control'.    (That translates as "computer problems".)    However all that seems to be behind us now.   Thanks to you (and the many others who wrote in and inquired) for your patience.


  • Email and "ASK US" - -   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 June 2013 Follies   begin...
    BANKOK EYES' Expat Night Scene.

       PATPONG  I  
                The King's Castle 3 closed some month back for renovations (see our earlier issues), only to open up, rather ambiguously as just "King's Castle".   It has just recently decided to nail the "3" back up, once again becoming King's Castle 3.   It remains a transgenderite bar.
      PATPONG  I  

                The upstairs "pay-for-show bar" Perfect Bar has gone into lockdown.   Located on Soi Bookstore connecting PPI and PPII.   No big loss, as these kinds of bars do not enhance the Bangkok Night Scene reputation in any fashion.
      PATPONG  I  

      PATPONG  II  
                The Screw Boy has completed renovations, to include new neon, and is now open for business.   If it isn't otherwise obvious, they are geared to gay male clientele.
       PATPONG  II  

       SOI  COWBOY  
                In a small sidewalk bar just outside of Soi Cowboy, a quiet drink, a quiet conversation.   These street bars have existed between the Asoke side of Cowboy and the Sukhumvit intersection since the unscrupulous Asoke Plaza / Asoke Corner landowner stormed their premises and destroyed their bars in early 2005.

                Shebas by day, Lighthouse by night - using the same sign : either lit at night, or turned off during the day.   There will be more neon on the way, however, and when it gets nailed up we'll snap a pic or two.   Welcome the Lighthouse to the wolfpack.

     NANA   PLAZA   
    Door Art Of The Month

              Formerly Las Vegas, the new Tokyo Player Agogo & Show Club has combined the old with the new resulting in a rather dazzling facade.   Welcome to the machine.

    NANA  PLAZA - (Sukhumvit  SOI  4)

                A quick snap for the archives....
    NANA  PLAZA - (Sukhumvit  SOI  4)

     SOI  NANA  
                 The Nana Liquid Disco (actually closed month earlier) will be reopening in the near future.   We shall advise.
      SOI   NANA   

                 We have (finally) snapped a half-way decent pic of the Naree Massage neon - located deep in Soi Nana on the left going in.   A combination of legit and special massage available.   May they persevere.
      SOI   NANA   

      SOI  KATOEY   
                 The Balcony keeps on keeping on.   They have recently opened up more of their ground floor to the 'indoor-outdoor' format - and as can be seen, it remains a popular venue.
    SOI  KATOEY  - (SILOM  SOI  4)

      SOI  22  
                 Located half way down Soi 22 the May Massage offers legit foot and Thai traditional massage.   Popular with couples and those seeking therapeutic massage - and the prices are the best in the area.
    SOI  22 - (Sukhumvit)

                 The previously unnamed bar / lounge next door to the Aloha Bar can no longer keep it's name a secret - the Top Secret 22 has put up some very hard-to-miss neon.   Welcome to partytown.
    SOI  22 - (Sukhumvit)

                 In the "We Don't Make Mistrakes" department, last month we erroneously called the new Ayaka Massage the Akaya Massage - dyslexia being one of our strong suits.
    - File photo        
    SOI  22 - (Sukhumvit)

                 The Otto Bar has grown one bistro wider, becoming the Otto Bar & Bistro.   Live music - all looks good to go.   Let the good times roll....
    SOI  22 - (Sukhumvit)

                 The Ampa mini-spa on Soi Starlight has reopened this month.
    (no photo available)
    SOI  22 - (Sukhumvit)

                   In what appears to be a case of    , the 'Massage Club Mitu's legal Thai name is "Mitsue".   Let's see how long before the owners take note....


                   Velvet, having had it's soft opening last month, promptly closed down for further renovations.   But all is well, they have reopened and are offering live entertainment.   Let it roll on...

                   It looks like the -mostly legitimate- Bliss Massage & Spa has been swallowed by the night.   Greener pastures, ladies.   But fear not, a new massage parlor (name to be revealed) will be opening right about

                   Joy has succumbed to Darwin's harsh call.   Again.   More lives than some old stray cat.   Let's see how long they stay closed this go-round....   
    - File photo         

                   It looks like the 3-Sister Bar beer bar has closed yet again.   We'll keep an ear to the ground, and should they pop back out of their coffin, we shall so advise....
    - File photo         

      SOI  EDEN  
                Gone but not gone, the Bai Fern Massage (noted closed in our last month's issue) has reopened three doors down on the same side of the lane - next door to the Down Under.   May they continue to slip and slide.
    SOI  EDEN -  Soi  7/1 Sukhumvit

                In the Twilight Zone the new Hot Male neon appears to cover for both the original Hot Male Bar and the Hot Male 2.



    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....)

    Ahennnnh...       Due to a snafu in our department last month, we published June's Historically Speaking where May's should have been.   This month, by way of correction, we will publish both.   And hopefully we we will do so correctly....

    10 YEARS AGO  :

    Patpong I
       *   No changes that month / year.

    Patpong 2

       *   New Lady put up their sign that month; (they had been open for a couple of months by that time).    Tavern Three Saloon pool bar now occupies those premises.

       *   Dome Juniority Club up on The Ramp returned to using that name after being called The Rock - Dome Junior for a brief time.   That venue now unoccupied.

    Soi Cowboy
        *   No changes that month / year.

    Nana Plaza
       *   The Temptations closed down temporarily.   They are still at that location.

       *   Up on the 3rd floor, Hollywood Strip started calling themselves Hollywood Carousel Bar.   Now currently the Billboard.

    Soi Katoey (Silom Soi 4)

        *   Samsara opened in the old Rome Club (Part II).   Now currently the For Fun.

        *   The Kool Spot reopened it's doors that month, that year.   Located approximately at today's 4 Sport's.

    Washington Square
        *   No changes that month / year.

    Soi Dead Artists    (Soi 33)
       *   The Pui Massage started also going by the name Sarinna.   No Nitespot now occupies those premises.

       *   The Japanese Club Karaoke became the Shinse Kai Japanese Karaoke Club.   No Nitespot now occupies those premises.

       *   The Po Massage closed temporarily.   It is still there today.

    Queen's Park Plaza     (Soi 22)
       *   The Popeye 2 closed temporarily.   It is still at that location.

       *   The Monkey's But ? closed.   They would reopen as Monkey Bizness, which is still there today.

    Clinton Plaza   (Closed down on June 2003)
       *   The Delifrance, located in the main building, closed.

       *   Bill's Coffee Shop, located next to the main building in front, closed.

    Tobacco Road     (Soi Zero) -   (Closed down on June 2006 )
       *   No changes that month / year.

    Cowboy Annex   (Asoke Corner/Asoke Plaza)
            (Closed down on Feb 2005)

       *   The Richiy Bar opened new in the old Funny digs.   Located along the back fence in the Plaza side.

       *   Newly Opened that month:
             ~   Richiy Pool Bar - Side fence - 'Plaza'
             ~   Mitr bar beer - Side fence - 'Plaza'
             ~   C.J. bar beer - Side fence - 'Plaza'
             ~   Prime Bar - (Reopened) - In front - 'Corner'
             ~   No Money No Honey - Left side, 'Corner'
             ~   Lucky Bar - (Reopened) - in the 8-Pak, 'Corner'
             ~   Red Hot Pepper - in the 8-Pak, 'Corner'

       *   Walker's Bar - CLOSED

    Historically Speaking May 2003

    10 YEARS AGO  :

    Patpong I
       *    Pussy Collection closed briefly (and would open 3 months later).

    Patpong 2
       *    Up on the 'Cosmo's Stairwell' (across from Foodland) the Bua Luang Thai karaoke closed it's doors on the fifth floor, and reopened them on the 3rd.   No Nitespot now exists at either location.

    Soi Cowboy
    No changes that month / year.

    Nana Plaza
       *   The Morning Night had opened softly slightly before then but had it's formal initiation ten years ago.

       *   The Fantasia up on the second floor closed it's doors (for a couple of months).

       *   Up on the 2nd floor, Temptations reopened after one month's closure.

    Soi Katoey (Silom Soi 4)

        *   Both the Speed and the Hip Hop closed.   Bearbie Bar-Karaoke now occupies those digs.

    Washington Square
    No changes that month / year.

    Soi Dead Artists    (Soi 33)
       *   The Athena Massage on the ground floor of the Peep In Park closed.    The Peep Inn is now the S22 Hotel.

       *   The 33 Barber / Oil Massage / Drink opened new.   The Akane Fashion Massage is now at that location.

       *   The Po Massage reopened after a brief closure.

    Queen's Park Plaza     (Soi 22)
       *   The Popeye 2 reopened after a brief shut-down.   It is still at that location.

       *   The Morenice opened new in what are now the Olive Oyl digs.

    Clinton Plaza   (Closed down on June 2003)
       *   Both Monica's and the Meeting House closed, leaving only one venue remaining at Clinton Plaza.

    Tobacco Road     (Soi Zero) -   (Closed down on June 2006 )
    No changes that month / year.

    Cowboy Annex   (Asoke Corner/Asoke Plaza)
            (Closed down on Feb 2005)

       *   The Marigold Bar opened new in the old New Lady Bar digs.

    13 Night Market    (Atop the original Thermae digs)
    (April 2003 - March 2005   - Now closed down.


       *   Chemo 04
       *   B.B. Beer Bar
       *   Monica's Bar & Pool
       *   Sexy Bar
       *   Walker's Bar Pub & Pool
       *   (an unnamed bar beer)
       *   13 Thai Traditional Massage
       *   Beautiful Bar
       *   Blossom Bar
       *   Thai Tattoo Bar
       *   Tequila Bar
       *   New Bar

    Historically Speaking June 2003



    But is it .... ART ?

    New to the world of 'Graffiti'?   See our "INTRO "


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

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

    Graffiti #638
    Wai Mee
    10 ft high x 12 ft

    Graffiti #639
    7 ft high x 27 ft

    Graffiti #640
    Rose Casino
    7 ft high x 14 ft

    Graffiti #641
    Proud Messy
    7 ft high x 7 ft

    Graffiti #642
    All Square Now
    8 ft high x 15 ft

    Graffiti #643
    6 ft high x 7 ft

    Graffiti #644
    7 ft high x various (4 in sequence)

    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 - 2013,   BANGKOK EYES /

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