THE COUP COUP CLOCK IS TICKING
The coup coup clock is ticking for Thailand, amid an uneasy air of uncertainty. With some Western countries still insisting on releasing travel warnings for Thailand, I dare say that the Western media has had a field day. I find it very hypercritical of the British government to state that Thailand is so dangerous that British citizens should only visit if absolutely necessary. What a load of absolute garbage! During the worst of the “troubles” in Northern Ireland which spread to bombings in London, there were no terror or travel warnings against Great Britain. At this time there were multitudes of bombs going off – what happened in Bangkok in comparison was like a drop in the ocean. I just hope that Westerners’ are not listening to these travel warnings which are now sounding like a broken record.
As for tourism I fear that the damage has been done by those who committed these dastardly and insane bombings on New Year’s Eve in Bangkok. The areas targeted in the capital is very significant, because Sapan Kwai, Central World Plaza, Pratunam Market, and Victory Monument are hardly the main nightlife areas of Bangkok. An internal political struggle was the reason behind the Bangkok bombings and now those that have to rely on foreign investment and foreign visitors will suffer from the aftermath of these attacks. Overnight the Thai stock market dropped 4% but has since recovered slightly, but remarkably the Thai Baht still remains consistently strong. For various reasons Bangkok was struggling for foreign investment and tourism before the coup and then the recent bombings; so this is a double blow to Bangkok that has already taken its toll.
Almost everybody who makes a living from foreign investment and/or visitors to Bangkok will be affected in some way or another. But, life goes on and there are probably few Asian races better than the Thai people for wearing a happy smile whilst staring in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, it is your working class Thais who no doubt will suffer the most in The Big Mango as a result of the coup, the bombings and some of the draconian laws aimed against foreigners’.
AND NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that there were no further bombings in Bangkok after New Year’s Eve and let us all hope that life will settle down in Bangkok. The nightlife areas in The City Of Angels were relatively unaffected and party people continue to go out and have a good time. For those looking for hot babes now is the time to visit while Thailand, and more specifically Bangkok is not flooded with foreigners’. With less overall foreigners’ in Thailand than you would expect at this time of year, this certainly means less competition for babe hunters. Most bars and nightspots are considerably quieter than previous January’s with the exception of the most popular venues that fill up on a nightly basis.
The popular venues still remain very busy because they are the cream of the crop and they will always remain busy. Walk into any of the Rainbow Go Go Bars in Nana Plaza and you would never think that any of the above mentioned had occurred at all. Down in Pleasure Playground or Pattaya, nightlife goes on as though coups and bombs happened in another country. For many Pattaya party people it is just another chapter in the land of contradictions.
THAILAND NIGHTLIFE AREA ASSESSMENT
In order to ascertain how good or bad a particular Thailand nightlife area is, you do have to step back and look at the overall picture. You cannot tell if an area is doing well or not from merely looking at two venues, because they could well be at two extreme ends of the scale. An example of two extremes would be trying to compare two go-go bars on floor two of Nana Plaza – namely comparing Rainbow 4 with DC10 for what I call the Q Factor. The Q Factor is “quantity of quality” and therefore DC10 and Rainbow 4 could not be any more opposite in being totally different entities of the Q Factor. Nothing against DC10 but it is totally pathetic compared to Rainbow 4 in terms of judging “quantity of quality”. You could use Rainbow 4 and Angelwitch as barometers for judging how busy Nana Plaza is and how many pole performers (go go dancers) are currently available. If both Rainbow 4 and Angelwitch are not busy, and/or are not high on “quantity of quality” then something is seriously wrong. It is highly unlikely that both of the two most popular go go bars in Nana Plaza will be quiet, but these two go go bars are good barometers.
OMPARING NANA PLAZA WITH SOI COWBOY
For some time now Nana Plaza has steadily declined in overall popularity, so much so, that to a large degree only the Rainbow bars and Angelwitch are keeping the Nana ship afloat. There are a variety of factors involved which include; price increases by owners and the bargirls (forced upwards by Japanese clientele), the strict laws against “showing”, a lack of concept and management (therefore a lack of customer care), some outside influences affecting Bangkok as a whole, and the underlying problem which is a negative change in some of the bargirls’ attitudes.
Bangkok most definitely has no shortage of alternative nightspots and people can simply vote with their feet if they so wish. Some residents and frequent visitors are doing exactly that, as there are far more nightlife venues available now than in previous years. It is serious competition for the establishments themselves, but it gives tremendous variety of choice to The Big Mango’s nightlife scene.
Soi Cowboy has risen in popularity compared to previous years, with the Tonglor authorities taking a much more relaxed attitude towards “showing”. In certain bars like Suzi Wong’s and Sheba’s, you could be forgiven for thinking you are in Walking Street down in Pattaya. Birthday suits are the order of the day and the air-conditioning needs to be cranked up on full blast, because it gets hot and steamy in these two bars. Apart from the advantage of “showing” Soi Cowboy does make an effort to attract the early crowd with attractive Happy Hours. It is never a bad thing to see the bar owners offering their customers something, although the actual price of the drinks is generally less of a factor to most Westerners’. Those Westerners’ that are on a serious budget are in the minority, but from everybody I have spoken to it is more a matter of principal than actual price.
Where Nana Plaza does score highly is on the sheer level of the quantity of quality. Soi Cowboy does have some very attractive bargirls, but the amount of attractive bargirls is less than in Nana Plaza. Soi Cowboy has the fun and friendly girls and Nana Plaza has the glamour. The reason why Nana Plaza has the most attractive girls lies with the fact that the girls go where the money is. In the most popular bars in Nana Plaza you will often find a high class clientele and this is where the supply and demand theory comes in. Personally speaking I like both Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza but for different reasons. The fact that Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza are both appealing but in different ways offers a diverse style of bars, that are conveniently located a short distance away from each other.
GO GO AND NO GO
There has been more than a few occasions when guys have said to me, “Nana Plaza is very quiet”. This was true what some guys have said technically, but it was 7:30pm at night and no go-go bar is busy at that time. Some people have no common sense whatsoever. And so, with that here is a guide to getting the timing right when visiting a pleasure palace, or in layman’s terms hitting the go go bars.
By all means visit the go go bars early between 7:00pm and 9:00pm but do not expect too much. In fact, most go-go bars in Bangkok do not open the dance floor until 7:30pm, and in Pattaya the trend is not to open until 8:00pm. Many of the sexy superstars (popular hot babes) will not have even arrived yet, which is their preference, so do not expect to see the full line-up until 8:00pm onwards. However, go-go dancers like all Thai staff are supposed to start work at a specified time. Rules and regulations do vary from bar to bar, but the general structure is still reminiscent of what it was decades ago.
In order to ensure that enough go go girls turn up for work each member of staff has a time card and must clock themselves in on a nightly basis. Some bars now use “Barsoft” which is a software program that was designed for Thailand’s bars and nightspots. But, the vast majority still use the old time card system, because like any small to medium sized business, records must be kept for salaries and accounts. I have seen bewildered customers that were amazed that the girls all clocked in with time cards. How else is a bar owner supposed to keep track of a multimillion Baht business? I found it odd that they did not realize this, but in all fairness I first came to Thailand in 1988 and they might be first time visitors.
Staff who arrive late are cut at a rate of a few Baht per minute (varies between one and five Baht depending on venue policy), but it does add up if some bargirls decide to stroll in hours late night after night. What most guys do not realize is that if a girl pays the barfine she will not be cut for being late. Most bars do try to encourage and not discourage their employees, but like everywhere in life there has to be rules that must be adhered to. This explains why some superstars stroll into their bar at 10:00pm or later, because they know they will be barfined later that night. Some superstars are even barfined multiple times almost every night.
The first members of staff to arrive in most bars are usually the cleaning staff, early shift manager, service staff (waitresses), bar staff, cashiers and mamasans. Shortly afterwards follows the DJ and security teams, reception, and night manager. All of these members of staff are important to the business and all should usually clock in before the dancers start to arrive. The team of auxiliary staff need to prepare the bar and the clerical work for the evening.
In some bars you will see activity in and around the bar as early as 5:00pm in some cases. With the Thais being a very communal race of people they will enjoy a meal and a chat together in groups. Others will even sit together and share some drinks, generally relaxing before the bar opens to the public. In stark contrast to Westerners you rarely ever see a Thai eating or drinking alone. For us Westerners this does take some getting used to when Thais come across and inquisitively ask what you are eating or drinking. Do not be alarmed or offended they are just being friendly and trying to make you feel part of the community. When a Thai approaches you and asks, “What are you eating?” Treat it more as a greeting than requiring a technical breakdown of your meal.
As the clock ticks away bargirls arrive to their various venues and start to get dolled up with optimistic visions for the night ahead. Quite a few bargirls even pay to have their cosmetics and hair done at a beauty salon. If you see the state of me you know that I certainly do not visit a beauty salon myself, but quite a few of the staff do. The business of pleasure is taken seriously in the City Of Angels. Remember that when you are looking for Noi or Lek in a certain go-go bar, Noi or Lek could show up at a variety of times ranging from 7:00pm until 10:00pm. And for those optimists among us who try to make appointments with bargirls, you can forget it because it is like herding cats and wild cats at that!
NANA PLAZA – NEON JUNGLE NEWS
Despite a large police presence on Tuesday, January 9 in Soi Nana, there was no report of any incident in the area. Some senior police had a very brief walk around Nana Plaza and whilst being filmed by TV cameras they proceeded to greet a few Westerners. However, notices were handed around the bars advising staff to be vigilant, because at this time the police have received a lot of bomb threats, which so far this year have been hoaxes. The police left the area promptly and Soi Nana carried on as normal until closing time at 2:00am.
I recently visited a few go-go bars in Nana Plaza, along with the company of the charming Dean Barrett. I went up to Erotica which is located on the stairs leading to the two Hollywood Bars on floor three. Erotica does not have that many girls but some of the teeny boppers in there were cute. The dancers were dressed in white blouses with short skirts and the student theme works well. The mamasans have to assess if they have enough girls to open the top floor above the glass ceiling, and this was a bit confusing when a lot of the “students” suddenly left the stage. It was 9:00pm and therefore time to open the upper floor and in all fairness the service staff did explain this to me. Like so many other bars Erotica struggle a bit on quantity and an influx of extra girls would enable Erotica to open both levels more often. It makes sense to only open the top level if there are a sufficient number of girls, rather than spread the dance troupe too thin. I think Erotica is worth visiting but you will have to get the timing right because they are not high on numbers. Do not visit too early because the full team will have not arrived and leave it too late and the best girls will be gone. I would guess that a good time to visit would be between 9:00pm and midnight.
REMINDER – Remember that go-go bars that have a limited number of girls will have a much smaller window of opportunity for you guys.
When Pretty Lady first re-opened on December 30 they only had a few go go girls that did not even break into double figures. During my sojourn in Nana Plaza with acclaimed author Dean Barrett, we both had a drink in Pretty Lady. I am pleased to say that the numbers of pole performers is steadily increasing. In the short time that Pretty Lady has been open again they have built the number of dancers up to just over 20 on the night we visited. Few were to our tastes but given time I think Pretty Lady are up to the challenge of building their bar up again. Pretty Lady played excellent rock music but it was too loud to have a comfortable conversation. A bottle of Heineken is very reasonable at 120 Baht and what was even better news was that Dean paid for it. Cheers Dean!
PRETTY LADY – I thought that May #98 and #16 were very sexy girls.
PATTAYA – PLEASURE PLAYGROUND
Angelwitch located in Soi 15 off Walking Street are hosting their 1st Anniversary Party on Monday, January 15. This spectacular venue will be specially decorated for the occasion and there will be special shows and events during the night. The management have planned a lingerie competition, which sounds very interesting and is something a bit different for a change. In addition a team of professional models from Bangkok will perform a show routine. Angelwitch Showtime starts at 10:00pm and lasts until 1:00am, so make sure that you are early enough to get a good seat. Some of the top showgirls from Angelwitch in Nana Plaza will be attending to support this special party night. Check it out!
My special thanks go out this week to the enigmatic Stickman, the fun-loving Dean Barrett, the extremely talented Mr. Ed, Khun Leigh and Special K.