Since September 1994, there had been a series of Bua Luang Thai karaokes, pool halls and restaurants in the upper floors of the 'Cosmos stairwell' on Patpong 2 Road (the stairwell opposite Foodland). However those Venues were of no interest (and rarely known) to foreigners seeking out Night Entertainment. However, things, and management, were about to change at Bua Luang...
In November of 1997, now twenty-six years ago, a new presence was emerging on Patpong 2 as a very old structure underwent renovations (originally home to Takara Barber Onsen in 1965 however there had been a number of successor Venues at that location - each eventually falling by the wayside.) Renovations completed, the Bua Luang 'Restaurant' opened its doors there for the first time. The new proprietor himself could not have been aware that this would be the beginning of a Night Entertainment Dynasty.
In January 2000Bua Luang Restaurant opened their second floor, calling it Bualuang Swing & Pub. It would last until February 2002, when they would close down both floors, renovating to become Bua Luang Bar & Restaurant downstairs, and Bua Luang Swing + Pub upstairs.
A look back in time at The Strip 2.0, the Bar Bar and the Patpong Museum annex.
These early years would be a period of trial and error for Bua Luang management, trying various Venue formats to see which would succeed and which would not.... After another 2002 renovation in April, they became Bua Luang Target Pool & Restaurant (upstairs and downstairs), later adding 'Karaoke' to their name in June. Then, in July, they closed down the upstairs portion, only to open it up a month later as IT Room. (It didn't work out, and reverted back to Bua Luang Target which was still downstairs).
In March of 2006, Bua Luang Target did an overnight name-change to You Deserve It, which quickly became Bar Bar -You Deserve It (and even later, just Bar Bar).
Then, in May of 2007, Steve's New Bar A Go-Go opened next door to Bar Bar, but by the following month, they had nailed up their 'official' The Strip signage. This juncture in the Bua Luang saga marks the turning point in the direction the group would be taking - they had pretty much decided on 'adult' Night Entertainment Venues with partnered management as opposed to restaurants, karaokes and pool halls.
Then in May 2008, the "Target" name was revived, but this time opening on the 4th floor of the Cosmo's Stairwell, replacing The Lift as the Target 2 (dropping "Bua Luang" from the name). Also, in August of that year, after several months of delay due to battles with contractors, Patpong'smost unique bar opened - spanning Patpong 2 Road three floors up, bridging across to the parking lot above Foodland. It was of course, the Park Bridge. The Park Bridge proved to be popular, but the Bua Luang group had grander ideas - they closed down, and after further renovations, reopened as Black Pagoda in September of that year.
Delaney'spub / club, opening only in November 2022, was just part of the "collateral damage" in the across-the-board joint-po.lice cra.ckdown. Delaney's would not reopen, even though they had no knowledge of the alleged activities in Phuket.
It was somewhere in this time period that the Bua Luang Group formed Aurum Bualuang Co., a business
development & consultancy company, to manage (at a minimum) their entertainment assets and management contracts. It was during this time we were able to sit down with the proprietor for a lengthy update, wherein he further expressed his desire, his vision, to bring Patpong 2 back to its former 'glory days'.
Meanwhile, The Strip would close, becoming Spanky's 3 in April 2010. However, Spanky's 3 didn't work out -management-wise- and would revert to The Strip in January of 2011.
The 4th floor Target 2 would close in February of 2012, but other than that, a period of relative stability (no new growth, no name changes) would occur within the Bua Luang group for an extended period.
Then, in March of 2018, the Candle Light Studio would open above Bar Bar to handle art exhibitions and other functions. Also, later that year (September) Club Black opened directly adjacent to, and behind Black Pagoda - with partnered management.
In October of 2019 the Triple XXX Lounge opened in the long-closed Electric Blue. Although not originally a Bua Luang asset, the Group would later take over management. Also in 2019, the Bua Luang group's 'magnum opus', the Patpong Museum would open in November (2nd floor, Cosmo's stairwell). Still in 2009, The Strip, renaming itself The Strip 2.0 in May, would close yet again in December.
By January 2020, the upstairs Candle Light Studio became an 'annex' to the Patpong Museum, but remained functionally the same.
The Patpong Museum was raided by joint Nat.ional Po.lice / Im.mi.gration Po.lice in March 2023 due to alleged links to the Velvet bar in Phuket which had been hiring underage girls.
Fast forward through the Covid years, the Bua Luang Group was able to restore their locked-down Venues to full operation. At that juncture, their 'stable' of Venues consisted of the following: The Patpong Museum and the Patpong Museum annex. The Black Pagoda, and Club Black. Triple XXX Lounge, and The Strip 2.0, later adding Delaney's (and for a brief period, an outdoor bar beer, 'Bangkok Dangerous', which stretched narrowly along the curb from Bar Bar to Silom Road).
In February and March of this year (2023) a Bua Luang Group 'representative', looking to expand the Group's "footprint" entered discussions with the Velvet bar in Phuket. The Velvet was quickly swooped down upon by Nat.ional Po.lice and the Im.migr.ation Po.lice - ostensibly for having underage dancers. Arrests were immediately made in Phuket, and when a link to the Bua Luang Group was discovered, the entire Bua Luang Group of Venues in Bangkok was also raided (March 2023). Delaney's and the Patpong Museum were initially spared closure, but they were subsequently shut down the following month - as were the Bualuang Group offices in Building No. 1.
To date, some of the bars that were closed down in the March 2023Bua Luang crackdown have reopened, however, none are now owned by the Bua Luang Group. The last holdout for a possible reopening was the Patpong Museum (which itself was not a Night Entertainment Venue), however, this is now 'history'. Our survey two nights ago revealed (photos taken through the windows) that the insides of the Museum have been stripped clean. The Patpong Museum annex above the former Bar Bar ( now the Octopus) has also been closed permanently, and chattel removed.
It is regrettable in the extreme that the auth.orities were not satisfied with arresting just the individuals directly responsible for the alleged crimes. But this was obviously a "Show-Bust" where cooperating po.lice organizations were involved, and with the possibility of "hum.an traf.ficking", an 'example' was deemed necessary (particularly for the benefit of the Press). The Bua Luang Group's thrust to revive Patpong 2 to it's 'glory days' has been terminated with extreme prejudice; it remains to be seen if Patpong 2 will remain a viable Night Entertainment Area for the long term. The aut.horities, in their zeal to be seen to be 'responsible', were unconcerned about the collateral damage, and many individuals affected by this 'Show-bust' were harmed financially, and many others are now unemployed - even though they were not involved in any way.
READER : Enjoyed your reader letter on Rick's Café last month. Must admit the old picture from the movie set opened my eyes, I never knew the full name of the film restaurant before. Isn't there though a Rick's Café here in Bangkok? I'm quite sure I remember coming across that name somewhere?
MIDNITE HOUR:We know of no Rick's Café here in Bangkok, but you may be recalling Dick's Café Bangkok, which was an obvious tribute to Rick's Café Américaine. The bar closed some years ago, and the Soi it was located on (Soi Twilight) is no longer there - having been entirely redeveloped. The owner has reportedly opened a similar Venue in 'Gay Town' at the top of Jomtien Beach (according to one of our regular contributors).
What ever happened to Mizu's Sarika Steakhouse on Patpong? Did it ever reopen? I can still recall the smell of half a century of grease on the walls and in the furniture, it would hit you as soon as you walked in the door. What a great place. ... ... As you may guess I have been away from Thailand since before Covid, and I'm no longer in touch with the Night Life scene. MIDNITE HOUR:After Mizu's Kitchen (Patanakarn Mizu) closed in March of 2019, renovations began, and were finally completed, however as of this writing, it has not reopened. The new premises are nothing like the original Mizu's, so we have no idea what it will eventually open as. We will continue to check in on our surveys, and will keep one and all posted on what it will (perhaps) become.
Our end-of-month survey of the Patpong Museum revealed what we were hoping would not come to pass. Peering in their windows like a one-eyed cat peepin' in a seafood store, we noted that virtually all the interior decorations had been removed. Most of the signage had also been removed - bar the one outdoor sign across the Soi on the Foodland (pic below). ...An unique Venue, having captured an historic period in Thailand, has now faded into the rain and the heat of Bangkok...
A view of the Patpong Museum looking in the main entrance - gone is the traditional circular Chinese entranceway, along with virtually everything else...
The Bar Of Yahoo lounge, has opened newly next door to Pinocchio's. May they abide.
After uncounted months under renovation, it looks like the Venus bar is just about to roll out the red carpet - in all probability, they will have opened by the time you read this. From the looks of things, this will be one of the better looking bars on Soi Cowboy.
Recently, the Crazy House installed some new dynamic lighting (it seems to be trending these days...). The only problem, one has to be across the street to see it. Business as unusual. Let the good times roll...
Having fallen afoul of the Fates, the Whiskey & Gogo has closed its curtains and doors for the last time. But not to worry, we hear hammers and saws a-flying... By this time next month, we should have a pic or two of the new bar that will be taking its place...
A For-The-Archives pic of Hillary 2 - as with the other 'Hillarys' on Soi Ambassador (Sukhumvit 11), always a crowd. May they keep on keeping on...
SOI NANA - (SOI 4 SUKHUMVIT)
The renovating Unnamed Bar taking shape upstairs in the previous Strikers Sports Pub digs looks like it's getting ready to reveal it's new signage... From the looks of the ongoing construction, there will be a new, more customer-friendly stairway / entrance. Located in the Nana Hotel parking lot. They should be rolling out the red carpet by month's end...
SOI NANA - (SOI 4 SUKHUMVIT)
The Beats has opened in the side soi connecting Soi 4 Nana to Sukhumvit Soi 6. Their main problem seems to be attracting customers...(Ahennnnh) May they be dealt all aces and faces...
There were no new openings or closings on Soi Katoey (Silom Soi 4) again this last month. We noted that BAS Living Room had put up some new signage (just like the old sign...). Also, we haven't seen Soi Katoey this quiet in many months...
The new location for the Absolute is on Subsoi Lemongrass (just past the Marriott Hotel). This is their 3rd location in and around those small Sois. But Absolute is not alone in that regard - the several massage parlors and bars in and around those two Subsoi's are in an endless loop of Musical Chairs... Shake it, don't break it, ladies...
The Bebop Bar, reopened after a brief closure last month (noted in this column). The beat goes on...
The smallest bar in Bangkok, Chill Chill Bar has reopened after a couple months' downtime. Welcome back to the sharkpool...
The long-running Angel Bar bar bier was closed last month, but they were just playing 'possum. They are back pedal to the metal this month. Keep on runnin'.
The Halo 22 Sports Bar (deep in Subsoi Hana - just past Marriott Hotel) has fallen victim to the machine. May they find greener pastures....
The Private Bar, originally at Soi 7 Plaza (now called 7 Center Point), has irretrievably slipped into the heat and the darkness. Their staff have returned to 7 Center Point to greet regulars at the new We For You Too.
The Squeeze Inn lounge has called 'Time!' for the last time. If memory serves, they have been around since the Washington Square days... They were a mainstay of Subsoi Titanium. May they be dealt a better hand next time 'round...
The Ola Ola, located at the very end of Subsoi Titanium, has sprung from it's crypt and continues to march as if nothing had happened. Welcome back to the neon nights....
The Sup Naree has closed yet again. We'll check back again next round and report any changes (if any). For the time being, we have removed them from the rolls. Located in Honey Plaza.
-For-The-Archives of Mullis, now in their bigger and better digs. Gotsta get paid...
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
The Chaba Massage closed down a couple of months back, and went into a total top to bottom renovation. By the time you read this, renovations should be complete, and they will be reopening as Royal Chabaa Traditional Thai Massage. We'll get some photos of their opening for next month's issue...
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
The La Paca ("The Fool") has gone headlong into the Abyss, and the Venue has reverted to it's original "Ya Dong Potion". Located at the end of Subsoi Havana Social, and as busy as ever...
The Flamingo (closed 2 months back) recently has been occupied by the new We For You Too. Staff came from the recently closed Private Bar on Soi 22. The original We For You remains open at the front of 7 Center Point, as before. Welcome to the bright lights, big city.
7 CENTER POINT
The Day & Nice Bar has been around for quite a while, but this last month they finally came up with some signage that we passers-by will notice. Time to rock & roll...
7 CENTER POINT
The DeM is a brand new bar beer located on the south wall (where all the old bars were torn down to make room for a parking lot that never materialized). Wish them luck as they throw their hat in the ring...
The Club Gems located deep in the Soi has added an upstairs KTV Karaoke and the Kiraku Snack Bar. (Snack Bar as in Japanese "snack"). We don't know what happened to our camera - we will try to get some decent pics next time around...
SOI DEAD ARTIST (Sukhumvit Soi 33)
The Club Kitty does things Japanese-style; hostesses of different classes entertain by the hour, & at different rates... Somewhat reminiscent of Bangkok's 1950's dance bars where one would buy tickets... Located in Subsoi Pan Pan.
As the 1966 Holiday Season approached, the big niteclubs laid down some hard cash to bring in some big name entertainers from the U.S.A. and Europe - all to the benefit of the night-clubbers of the day. Meanwhile, the bars & massage parlors scene continued to expand to meet the demands of increased tourism and the U.S. forces stationed in Bangkok and on R&R from Viet Nam.
As the 1966 Christmas season approached, Sani Chateau brought in Lionel Hampton from the U.S. for a two-day stint. Lionel Hampton was most remembered as a jazz vibraphonist, but was also a renown pianist, percussionist, and bandleader. His recording with Benny Goodman in 1942 produced the version of "Flying Home" - featuring a solo by Illinois Jacquet -that is considered a forerunner of American Rhythm & Blues.
Gaysorn Night Entertainment Area - December 1966
InDecember '66 the Cafe De Paris on Suriwong Rd (opp. Patpong) featured Mick Micheyl - the leading star of French song in the '50's and '60's, with a string of National Awards appended to her resume. (She was also a renown sculptor).
The Tropicana (in the Rama Hotel) featured the world-renown Platters who were, and are, an American vocal group (since 1952). They are one of the most successful groups of the rock & roll era with 40 hits on the Billboard top 100 between '55 and '67, (four No.1 hits.) The Platters were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. They perform around the world to this day, with several new members replacing those who have retired.
Silom Road near New Road Entertainment Area - December 1966
Cesar's, the newest full-format Nightclub in Bangkok was quick to bring in quality entertainment to compete with Cafe de Paris, the Tropicana and the Sani Chateau. AmericanMaurice Rocco, the then-resident entertainer / singer / pianist was supplemented by various acts introduced from abroad at regular intervals.
Gaysorn Night Entertainment Area - December 1966
Wishing all a Happy New Year, the Thermae Turkish Bath, which opened two months earlier, saw their subterranean all-night Coffee Shop rapidly becoming a 'home' to the freelancer crowd...
The Nana Turkish Bath on Sukhumvit Soi 3 took advantage of the recent opening of the Grace Hotel, opening at the foot of the bridge spanning the Saen Saep Canal.
In our earlier clippings, we would come across adverts for both the Nipa Hut and the Mexican Bar, each advertising their location as just across from Soi Asoke (Soi 21). From ancient memories, we could recall only the Nipa Hut (with dwarf doormen), so we were wondering if these two Venues were actually one-and-the-same... In December's clippings we noted for the first time their published their street addresses - which would put them next door to each other. It wouldn't be long, however, that they would combine, becoming just Nipa Hut.
The late night Rico Coffee Shop was the latest to capitalize on the growing after-hours crowds in-and-around the Patpongs. It would appear that Rico was influenced by Bernard Trink's then-current Nite Owl logo....
Suriwong Road - December 1966
The Takara Barber Onsen, in spite of it's name, was functionally a "Turkish Bath-style massage parlor". It remained on Patpong 2 for years before relocating to Patpong 1. It remains there today.
The Siam Theatre was opened by Apex Theatres in Siam Square on 15th December 1966. A little known fact : it was geared (projectors and screen) to show Cinerama (second only to the Petchrama on Petchburi Road). It was one of the grand old cinemas built during this period, and was one of several theaters and structures destroyed by ars.on 19th May 2010 by the "R.ed Sh.irt" th.ugs from Ta.ksin'sTh.ai Ra.k T.hai poli.tical party.
The Thai Silk Co., Ltd. known to most as just 'Jim Thompson's', was a joint venture between Jim Thompson and George Barrie which got it's big break when they were selected to provide silk fabric for costumes for the musical The King And I. Today it remains the most prestigious of Thailand's silk clothiers and producers of silk fabric.
AmericanGraffiti artist (tag: Sabo) has been relentlessly satirizing the hypocracy of woke corporations, entertainers and politicians. He holds nothing back, scornfully and cynically mocking those who adopt or profess contradictory or fallacious agendas in their attempts to mollify America's trending ideologues and cancel-culture mobs.
It was inevitable that his oft-humorous satirizations would eventually cause him to be compared to Banksy. Most recently Sabo raked American Airlines over the coals over its woke policies and leftist posturing. His assortment of outrageous, mocking posters was plastered around American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
One group of his faux advertising posters in the Dallas area showed likenesses of martial artists Nate Diaz and Jake Paul (prior to their upcoming bout) above the announcement, "Woke Air Presents", describing their pronouns as "He / Him" and assuring the world that, "American Airlines Center's policy is gender inclusive."
Yet another set of faux American Airlines posters (proclaiming, "We have first class, business class, and woke class, where your middle seat can identify as a window seat") was precipitated by American Airlines' 2019 policy change allowing passengers to indicate 'X' or 'U' when identifying as 'non-binary'.
Also that year, he modified an existing "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood billboard" to display likenesses of convicted rapists Jeffrey Epstein and Roman Polanski alongside their names.
As early as 2017, Sabo roasted late night talk show political activistJimmy Kimmel with a series of posters around Los Angeles entitled "Estrogen Hour" - which, of course, depicted a crying Jimmy Kimmel.
Also in 2017, he altered an entire billboard to highlight former Democratic Sen.Al Franken's(Minn.) inappropriate touching of women.
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered, under current legal precedents and prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original photographs or artwork resides exclusively with the creators.
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered, under current legal precedents and
prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original artwork resides exclusively with the creators.
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The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman.
(Boge's photo, above, is not a graffitiper-se, although there are those who have insinuated....