Soi Cowboy is about to gets its icon back.
On Friday, The new Dollhouse sign will unveiled. Typically Thailand, its the “same same, but different” as the old sign. So what’s the big deal?
It is a big deal. The “fat boomerang”-shaped Dollhouse sign had, until Covid, been Soi Cowboy’s signature. Even a street dubbed the “Neon Alley”, the Dollhouse sign served as the signature on its flourish, the exclamation point on Cowboy’s tagline. And, for years, it’s been missing.
The exact date the original Dollhouse sign came down isn’t certain, but was during the Covid years – a May 2019 Stickman Bangkok photo from 2019 still had it in place, even though the frontage neon was burned out – but, since Thailand’s reopening last year, its absence has been conspicuous.
After Baccara and Suzie Wong, the opening of The Dollhouse in 2000 heralded Cowboy’s coming of age. Which both Baccara and Suzie had neon frontages, neither had signs that hung out over Soi Cowboy and dominated the landscape.
Over the years, it became less noticeable as “The Arab” took over the old-school bars and made them the most colorful clip joints on the street. They remain great to look at, but you don’t want to go into Rio, Spice Girls, Midnite or the rest of the lot.
The new Dollhouse sign – measuring almost 2.75 by 2.75 meters – is huge, basically the same sign as the old model. But, as this is 2023 and not 2003 – it’s a fraction of the weight of the old model and energy-efficient (and more durable) LED lights have replaced the neon. Make not mistake: It’s still a heavy mother, but the structural support and supports needed to have it hang out over Cowboy are a lot less demanding.
Along with the sign will be new LED signage across the front of the building. The old frontage burned out back in 2018 and was never replaced. It, too, was removed during Covid.
Creating the New Dollhouse Sign
Creating the sign was not an easy endeavor. The job was first given to a company in Pattaya that dragged its feet, made excuses and never delivered. Finally, a new company – which recently delivered the signage for Pattaya’s Tree Town Market – was hired to make it.
You might recall the headlines about how the Tree Town sign blew over in a storm just two days after it went up. It was mud on the face of the signmaker, but they blamed it on Tree Town’s cheap management, who skimped on constructing the arch on which the sign was supposed to go.
Dollhouse management has reassured everyone that its massive new sign won’t fall on the heads of Cowboy patrons. It will be anchored safely and securely.
Nearly a month after it was supposed to be delivered, The Dollhouse’s new sign will arrive around 5 a.m. Friday morning and, at 10 p.m. on June 30, the switch will be flipped, lighting up a new era for Soi Cowboy.