Serving as another swell in Nana Plaza’s ownership-youth wave, Essence Nana Plaza opened Friday in the space last occupied by Whiskey & Go-Go.
There was no “Pardon Our Dust” signs, but the thirtysomething Spanish owners admitted a lot of work remains to be done at Essence, which probably opened before it should have, but Sept. 29 was one partner’s 36th birthday, so he needed a place to party!
In fact, financial pressures forced Essence Nana Plaza to get the doors open. If you want to pay the rent – quoted in Whiskey’s “for sale” ads at 200,000 baht a month – you need to start the money train rolling by Oct. 1. Nana Plaza management invited Digital-a-Go-Go to be there as Essence Nana Plaza got ready for its very soft opening Sept. 29.
Essence Nana Plaza Upgrades
Essence Nana Plaza, at 1.5-unit size, is not a large bar, and is longer than wide, making it look smaller than Bunnies 2, which has the same floor space. So there’s only so much that can be done with it design-wise.
Whiskey tried – and failed – to go with a lounge theme, with low sofas along one wall and coffee tables, as well as a low pedestal stage (which was later replaced by a humungous concrete blob of a stage). Essence Nana Plaza has returned to the traditional go-go look similar to what Erotica had in that same space for so many years.
A normal-height, narrow stage sits at the center of the club with a cage at one end reminiscent of Spellbound, the Dave the Rave-managed bar that preceded Bangkok Bunnies (and Twister BKK). Barstools line the stage, although currently there is no rail on which to place drinks.
Two rows of traditional stadium-style seating replace Whiskey’s low sofas, bringing Essence Nana Plaza back closer to the configuration of Erotica. The DJ station has been moved to the back right corner, next to a booming, 4-foot-tall subwoofer. The blue fairy lights that lined Whiskey’s entrance – before the shorted out and weren’t fixed – have been replaced by white, 3D-textured vinyl wall coverings, which also are used in the toilet area.
Essence opened with about a dozen attractive women brought in by foreign-run “VIP concierge” company that does yacht parties, bachelor nights, group trips and the like. It’s unknown if or when the former Patpong girls who were working the pole at Whiskey will be return.
Whether those changes are upgrades is subjective. What is not are two big, true upgrades. One is the sound system, anchored by the big woofer. Whiskey had horrible, tinny sound. Now Essence Nana Plaza sounds like a proper club.
The second is the entrance. No bar, other than the Chili ladyboy bar, has ever made money in Essence’s spot, next the main stairs on the middle floor to the right of Random. It’s hallway entrance makes it impossible for looky-loos to see the stage from outside and Whiskey’s door lighting – warm yellow – blended in with Nana’s yellow paint. Many people just walked right on by, never having seen it.
No one can miss Essence, whose door is now rimmed by LED lights similar to nightclubs on Pattaya’s Walking Street. That, combed with the bright white hallway entrance, should bring more people in.
Pardon Our Dust
Despite all the changes, a lot of work remains to be done at Essence Nana Plaza. Lighting on the stage is insufficient to light the girls properly. Even the mamasan complained on soft-opening night customers can’t see the ladies’ faces. Lights also need to be put in over the seats. Mirrors on one wall have yet to be installed. None of the tables have yet been surfaced and the stage is rough as well. Coverings will come in short order. Then, of course, there’s the dust, which is everywhere.
Finally, the menus – gray with reflective gold type –must have seemed like a good idea to a millennial artist but are completely unreadable, even in good light and need to be redone. A closer look at the menus also revealed high prices, such as 220 baht for a Jack Daniel’s drink. Compare that with 180 baht at Billboard or 95 baht on Wednesdays at Mandarin and Red Dragon.
Whiskey & Go-Go came out of the shoot aiming to make it a spot for pricey, top-shelf liquor and failed badly. Until the end, Whiskey’s prices were too high for Nana Plaza. Essence’s initial take on its menu has the same problem.
No real judgement can be made on any go-go bar on its soft-opening night, so it’s likely the owners already have a list of things to address and, by Nov. 1, will be ready for a proper grand opening.