Perhaps more obvious to longtime expat residents and those visiting Thailand over the years, the Pattaya Nightlife Scene has a visceral, edgy undercurrent, neither entirely pleasant nor unpleasant, but omnipresent nonetheless. The closest parallel would be the "Wild West" feel to the long-gone Golden Mile on Bangkok's New Petchburi Road. And yet Pattaya wasn't always that way....
The Check Inn 99's highly entertaining Filipino band has made the transition
to the new digs on Sukhumvit Soi 24.
WALKING STREET Pattaya
And at this juncture, a look back in history paints an interesting picture. We often have seen in print that R&R from the Viet Nam conflict was the beginning of, and the culprit behind, Thailand's notorious Nightlife. And while we were busily dwelling on that urban myth, we tended to forget - the Viet Nam conflict was, in fact, the opening of Western Eyes to the Nightlife of the East as a whole. The R&R program (1966 - 1972) opened up opportunities to travel to countries participating in the Viet Nam conflict on the side of the South Vietnamese. Excluding R&R areas outside of Asia, there were a number of international destinations - each with it's own heavy-dutyexpat Night Life game. And, at that moment in history, each of these expat Night Entertainment Districts had the potential to grow into permanent destinations for those seeking the Good Asian Nightlife experience :
Hong Kong (mainly Wanchai, but there were other areas as well).
Malaysia (Originally K.L. but later Penang).
Manila (an exploding Ermita, and including Olongapo, and a budding Angeles City next to Clarke AB).
Seoul (Itaewon near Yongsan Garrison.)
Singapore (Geylang, old Bugis Street)........
Taipei (Ching Shan Road and "Sin Street" Chin Chow).
Saigon (Tu Do and Cach Mang streets, and including parts of Vung Tao and Cho Lon.
* In-country R&Rs were rare, but Saigon had a huge Nightlife Scene due to military/ civilian personnel in the area.)
Bangkok (New Petchburi Road, the growing Patpong Roads and Khlong Toey).
In hindsight, we see that most of those locations have either shrunk into inconsequential size and reputation or disappeared altogether. But what about Pattaya while all this was going on? How did Pattaya find it's way into this patchwork of internationally known Night Entertainment Areas?
Door Art Of The Month
G-Spot - the most colorful - the most inviting A Go-Go we have visited, or even laid eyes on this last month. 'Knock-Out' neon...
WALKING STREET (Pattaya)
While the West was busily opening it's eyes to those major Asian Night Entertainment destinations during the 60's and 70's,Pattaya remained pretty much just another Night Entertainment backwater, at least at first. Pattaya did have some increase in foreign tourism during that time, but the lion's share of the expat Nightlife in that neck of the woods was closer to the U Tapao Airbase at Kilo Sip, while the bulk of such Entertainment remained in Bangkok. By the mid-70's, there were a few A Go-Go bars in South Pattaya - Dino's, the Harbor Light and Hank's Hideaway. (These were the pioneer A Go-Go bars in what would one day become 'Walking Street'.) Shortly after, the Tahitian Queen A Go-Go opened in Central Pattaya, but that was pretty much it.
An anniversary bell presented to the Check Inn Garden
just one year before joining with Club 99.
WALKING STREET (Pattaya)
What happened next was the so-called German Invasion in the last half of the 70's, which brought to Thailand two significant additions to the Night Entertainment World. As might be fitting, the sun-seeking Germans brought the bar bier (beer bar) and the bier garten (beer garden). At first, the bar bier concept was not received well in Bangkok, however Bangkokian expats did take to the bier gartens. Not so, Pattaya - in fact, the reverse was true; the bier bars were what caught the imagination of the beach-ware crowd, and thus began their flourishing.... The bier gartens not so much.
WALKING STREET (Pattaya)
Thailand, because of geological location and international politics, remained a focus for foreigners, and the growth of the Night Entertainment Sector continued unabated after the R&R days faded into history. Initially, the bulk of new Night Entertainment was the seemingly inextinguishable A Go-Go bar. The peak of Bangkok's A Go-Go growth was in the 1988 - 1989 timeframe. But in spite of the ever-increasing millions of tourists annually, Bangkok's A Go-Gos didn't keep pace : their numbers slowly, inevitably, being stifled by the likes of pubs, discos, beer bars (!), sports bars, pool bars.... A Go-Go was, and is no longer "Number 1" in Bangkok's Night Entertainment kingdom. In contrast, growth of the A Go-Go scene in Pattaya (in spite of the overwhelming superiority-in-numbers of the bier bars) was slower, but nonetheless, rock-steady. In the international press, while Bangkok was receiving (almost) all the notoriety, Pattaya remained lower profile - and slowly continued to build, and to build even more.
Admiral's Pub & Restaurant and Check Inn 99 have worked out
a win-win combo - all parties benefiting from the Sukhumvit Soi 24 'merger'.
WALKING STREET Soi 15 (Pattaya)
In summary, while Bangkok, and virtually the entire remaining inventory of Planet Earth's Night Entertainment World was either stagnating or diminishing or disappearing all together, Pattaya continued to quietly grow. No longer contained in South Pattaya, there is the equivalent of a large Night Entertainment Area on each of the succeeding sois going north from South Pattaya Road up through Soi 6 and beyond. And that is not counting the Nitespots on Pattaya 2 Road. Nor does it take into consideration the (relatively new) mega-spread of bars on Soi Bua Khao (more than a mile long) and the clusters of bars on the sois connecting Bua Khao to Pattaya 2 and Pattaya 3 roads. Nor have we included the clusters of Nitespots on the inland side of Sukhumvit Highway or at the Na Klua end of town.
WALKING STREET (Pattaya)
While the world slept (or, at least dozed...), Pattaya has become the largest, most well-developed expat Night Entertainment destination on earth. And guess what else? It now has the largest concentration of A Go-Go bars on earth - Walking Street alone has more than one hundred Nitespots, most of which are A Go-Gos. Second place going to Angeles City, Philippines (holding their own), and third place going to tired old Bangkok. (Yes, we are talking about Planet Earth - nothing compares to Pattaya - not Rio, not San Jose, not Acapulco, not Ibiza, not - you name it. Nothing comes even close.) Recognition where it is due - Pattaya,
ever so gradually, has become the new center of the A Go-Go Universe.
The word was out on the street. The Dollhouse (Pattaya) was going to have a grand birthday celebration for a member of the management on 20 July. That celebration would include a "Nana Pong Style Dance Competition". Certainly tempting for the long time resident of Thailand - a chance to see A Go-Go dancing as it was meant to be. Not to mention they would be dancing to real rock and roll - as opposed to the all-too-annoying electronic techno garbage - where even the drums are faked. A grand evening was in store....
As the bewitching hour approached, the bar periodically announced over the PA system that they were minutes away from commencing the dancing competition (10:00 p.m). Good at their word, the party commenced on time, with the PA system exhorting all to be thankful to Jesus Christ for what we were about to witness. We were told there would be four dancing teams of two couples each, one team from each of the four participating bars in the South Pattaya neighborhood: Club Electric Blue, The Dollhouse, Angel Witch and G-Spot. What could possibly go wrong? They announced, "....and no photography." We would soon learn why.
The scoring of the competition would be done by customers sitting elbows-&-beers on the edge of the dance floor - which was the size and shape of a boxing ring. Score sheets were handed out by the bar management. They also sought (among the packed house) additional judges, should any other patrons want to join in. As a final suggestion, the newly recruited judges were advised over the PA system to consider the level of raunchiness; - the raunchier the better. The first fleeting indication that, just perhaps, things would be getting a little wild.
The first bar up at bat was the G-Spot, two pairs of girls, four dancers total. But why dance in pairs? Why not just have four dancers up there dancing their hearts out to the beat of some good old fashioned rock and roll? (How naive could we be?) The four girls swayed slowly from chrome-pole to chrome-pole in their G-string bikinis and see-through micro mini skirts - way too slow for the music. Hey, what's going on here? Half a minute into the swaying back and forth, the girls began the slow strip-tease, often helping one another doff their duds. Then it dawns on us, four girls, not five, not seven. Two pairs of girls undressing one another......
Without further prelude, the two pair launched into what were well-rehearsed side-by-side lesbian shows. Those "old hands" sitting 'ringside' who thought they had "seen it all" - hadn't seen anything yet... Girls hanging upside down on poles getting chowed-down on, while chowing-down on their respective 'dance' partners. Standard 69 on the floor. Girls doing the splits, one foot on the floor, the other foot above her head on the chrome pole, all the while getting chowed down on. The girls, obviously very much into it, were not doing just the faux tongue-tickle lesbian shows, they made sure the audience saw they were getting as much meat in their mouths as humanly possible. Needless to say, the other non-performing dancers from the Dollhouse (whom the Management referred to as "the House vagina") were shrieking with each deeper descent into the raunchiness.
The 'old hands' were getting restless; admittedly, a couple new 'positions' but nothing to write home about.... But that's when things started coming undone. Someone was handing the girls bottles of cream, or perhaps milk, that were, in turn, shaken vigorously. Most of the cream spraying onto the judges and the dance floor; the rest they poured over themselves. Dildos, pre-coated with KY, appeared on stage - with the inevitable happening - one girl 'doing' her partner with gay abandon.... The occasional Golden Shower. At which point the announcer noted that he was happy to see that urinating on stage had been added into the dancers' repertoires. The announcer, once again overcome with the Rapture, made some additional 'Thank You Jesus, Thank You Lord'-type comments in praise of the abundance of available open-slather at the bar - adding as an aside that the only thing not allowed in the competition was defecating on one another. - But even then, he didn't rule it out. It dawned on us, quite belatedly, why there were admonitions against taking pictures....
Two young A Go-Go dancers sitting next to us that had been working in the Pattaya bar scene for less than a week were in a mild state of shock. One looked at the other and said in disbelief, "This is Thailand.... This is Thailand...." But she was soon climbing up on my shoulders to see better, and shrieking with the rest. The other newbie had seen enough and went outside in shock and disgust, where she remained for the duration as an escape from the carnal blitzkrieg.
After each bar's team had finished their competitive performance, the stage had to be squeegied, and then dried off with towels. They had to wipe the cream and urine and KY off of everything, to include the chrome poles and hand rail in order to make way for the next team-of-four - who would foul the stage in equal measure. The judges were left to wipe themselves down after each of the four performances.....
By the end of the second bar's performance, or sometime midway through the third bar's performance, several expats were seen to be paying their tabs and departing. After all, there is only so much a person can stand of anything before the brain goes into 'extreme overload'. In summation, while we did hear some great classic rock, we never did see any A Go-Go dancing, per-se, during the contest. So if you are planning to go to future events of this kind, be warned : while dance competitions might have a lot more than you had bargained for, they might not actually have dancing....
Contributed by 'Pattaya Nick', or sometimes, 'Old Nick', obviously not his real name.
Maybe a suggestion to color mark the bars/shows etc, according to known 100% girls, Mixed, or Khatoey places? It will never match completely, but is soo handy because things do change…
Thanks in advance,
Currently Nana Plaza is changing names and formats at a rapid rate. For example, I have noted that recently there was another change in which bars were katoey bars and which were not. As of last survey, the following bars are full katoey:
London Calling (1st floor) True Obsessions (1st) Casanova, (2nd) DC-10 (2nd) Temptations, (2nd) Chili (2nd) Charades (3rd)
Soi Cowboy remains steady at one katoey bar;
Being able to tell which bars have some katoeys is not practicable for the reason you have stated (the scene is changing too fast), and also because a number of transgenders are very good copies - in order to evaluate an individual bar one would have to spend a lot of time in each bar, and perhaps confirm with one of the dancers or the mamasan about those which were very good imitations. It would be a time-consuming project, with the results likely changing before the survey had been completed..
The MIDNITE HOUR does not emphasize this, as you may have noticed in reading our 'About Us' page, although we will from time to time mention which bars are 100% katoey bars. Gays which prefer katoeys appreciate this information, as they then know where to go. Straights who do not consort with katoeys appreciate the information, as they will want to avoid those venues.
It looks like the French Connection has become the French Dis-connection. Both the parent The Den on Sukhumvit Soi 12 and this, the Radio City (previously also The Den) have plummetted headlong into the abyss. Chatter in the neighborhood is all about what happened to all the sharks in the aquariums...
Welcome, somewhat belatedly, the De Talk 2, a beer, booze & coffee stop. They actually opened as a hole-in-the-wall coffee spot a couple of months ago, but now have spruced themselves up a bit, and are serving other beverages. It is difficult to see how this Venue will progress into a 'Nitespot' where one may find some 'action', but then, you never know.... This is the young sister of the De Talk on Patpong 2.
An interesting 'for-the-archives' shot of Patpong 2.
Last month, we noted that the 9501 Studio Bar was closed, but word on the street was that it would be opening in three days.... That, it seems, never transpired - now officially scrubbed from the rolls.
Last month we noted that the Country Road in the now-defunct The Tunnel was going to move into Sukhumvit Soi 4. Well, fait accompli. Their new digs are a big improvement - and they still have their live band on designated nights. Old hands are already returning.... Located in what was most recently the Swan Live Country Music, just past the Soi 6 cut-off.
The Pretty Relax Massage had some tussle or another about the name of the shop, so they took a sharp knife and scraped off the 'Pretty', becoming the Relax Massage. Same suds, different day.... Located deep in Soi 22, across the street from the New Cowboy Bar.
SOI 22 (Sukhumvit)
In the previous issue, we noted that the Overground was closed, but that we would keep an eye out and report back as to whether or not it was closed permanently. Well, we've got bad news - we can confirm they have gone MIA. We walked up the stairs as far as we could, and the place has been cleaned out. When you roll the dice with Fate, it's not if, but when....
SOI 22 (Sukhumvit)
The Happy Pub Bar in Soi Starlight has closed (again) for what appears to be the longest mile....
SOI 22 (Sukhumvit)
A small beer bar has opened up between The Connection lounge and Angel Bar 22 beer bar. They have yet to assign a name. We hope to have pix next issue.
The Pisamai Spa at the end of the cul-de-sac at the back of the old Q Bar has gone the way of the paraphysornis, quickly to be replaced by the P. P Beer Bar & Massage (also known as P. Beer). Welcome them to the bright city lights.
SOI AMBASSADOR (Sukhumvit 11)
The Chaba Massage located at the end of the Soi across the street from the old Q Bar has closed. They are renovating furiously - let's wait and see if they reopen. (No File Photo available.)
The Ranhim Club, a long-running Japanese Karaoke Club, has changed its name (slightly) to New Ranhime. And they put up some sparkling new neon to prove it. The beat goes on....
SOI DEAD ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
Last month the Love & Service Japanese massage thought they could get by with the "Minimalist approach" and have only a symbol for their sign. This month they have conceded defeat, and have put up some signage... Well, a small white board, anyway.... Perhaps more neon is in the pipeline. (Begs the question, why didn't they just use the old signage from across the street ?)
The bar beer Shots Bar was closed down for some reason when we passed by a month's end. Looking through the window, it looks like they still have booze on the shelves... We'll keep our ear to the ground, and advise should they reopen....
A Muhammad Ali tribute -BUT ARTIST REMAINS A MYSTERY
This graphic excerpt from Internet is, under current legal precedents and prevailing interpretations considered 'Fair Use' under copyright law.
A likeness, a stencil portrait of "The Greatest" -Muhammad Ali, the recently deceased boxer- has appeared in two separate locations in England (Rusholme & Birmingham). The style is much like that of the well-known graffiti artist Banksy. The one problem is these stencils (Banksy's preferred medium) are not signed by him. This has given rise to speculation as to whether or not Banksy is the artist. Banksy has not proffered any comment...
But these are not isolated incidents, as Muhammad Ali graffiti likenesses have been popping up all over - more a testament to his celebrity than his boxing prowess. One such graffiti artist, whose name is also Muhammad Ali, is also producing likenesses of his namesake. He makes no claims, however, as to ownership of the stencils in question.