Happy Sunday, reader. It’s time again for the Sunday Rap, and if you tuned in for part 4 of my ongoing series—Eurocompensating—highlighting various restaurants around town that serve food from the motherland, prepare to be disappointed. Or if you’re not into food blogs and want to read about the gogo scene, prepare to be…whatever the opposite of ‘disappointed’ is…Appointed, I guess. Because some newsworthy gogo-related events happened last week, and it’s worth taking a break from food to talk about it. Tune in next week for “Eurocompensating: Italy.” Now let’s talk red-light.
‘Twas an eventful week in Bangkok’s red-light districts, folks. More eventful in some than others. For example, Nana and Cowboy got shut down due to a “Covid” “outbreak” in Thonglor. Technically that’s an event. Meanwhile, until Thursday at least, Patpong was a veritable party zone, as well as a cash cow for booze and cooze peddlers alike.
Then the word came down. Bars must shut for two weeks, starting 10 April. The clock began to tick for punters to get their last licks in before what is sure to turn into a month, or two months, of no fun. Since Nana and Cowboy were already shut, the only choice open for last-minute mongers was good ole Patpong. And come they did.
On Tuesday, the Wonderfruit group rented out Soi 2 from XXX Lounge to Silom Road for a private VIP party. They flew in guests from parts unknown and quarantined them just for this event, and had a nurse station on hand to give rapid Covid tests to every attendee. I snuck in, of course, and it was a wild night, I tell you what. The Wonderfruit crowd were two equal parts hiso indie artsy Thais and wacky young farang. I was easily the oldest person there. The kids were all decked out in what they thought was appropriate for a “red-light” party that included the bdsm fetish club BarBar. If you tried to imagine a Halloween party at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, you’d get a pretty accurate picture. Lots of leather, top hats, and girls with slave collars. There was a schedule of shows that took place on the stages of XXX Lounge and The Strip throughout the night, with world-famous DJ Seth Moxler finishing out the night by spinning records in BarBar. Three of the Strip girls were hired for the night to put on two fire shows, so I mainly stuck around in there to look after the dancers and keep a low profile before ducking out and heading home early. I’m sure I missed most of the fun, but that’s OK. I wasn’t invited.
Wednesday and Thursday were relatively quiet, probably because the gogo hounds were in denial about another shutdown. Best, from Black Pagoda, had her birthday party.
On Friday, however, there was something of a desperate run at the Pong, with dudes seeming to hurry into the gogos with a kind of mad fervor. I had to end the night early, due to some copious daydrinking over at Shenanigan’s. I popped in around lunchtime for a couple of pints, and as luck would have it, stumbled onto their staff training for the new wine menu. The owner’s wife has recently changed the menu (as reported in last week’s blog), cutting out many of the old hat items, streamlining their offerings, and adding a peri peri chicken menu reminiscent of Nando’s. In addition, she also chose five new wines to add to their drinks menu—a choice I enthusiastically support, since until now I’ve had to bring my own bottles when ordering the Sunday roast. After a short presentation of terroir, world regions, old world vs new world, and how to open and pour, the trainer had each wait staff member practice doling out wine, and they asked me to play the part of the customer, and I was all too happy to oblige. Here’s how the new wines shake out:
Matua Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand: grassy, floral, mineral, and citrus notes in the nose, flavors of lemon, grapefruit, lemongrass, more lemon, and green apple.
Rawson’s Retreat NZ Merlot: aromas of earth, chocolate cake, dark cherry, and fruitcake. Flavors of young fruit, mainly bing cherry and plum.
Casillero del Diablo Cabernet from Chile: nose is dark fruit, chocolate, some earthiness, mushrooms with flavors of semi-sweet chocolate, blackberries, and leather.
Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz: aromas of mushroom, smoke, blackcurrant, with flavors of tobacco, blackberries, pepper, and licorice.
Martini Prosecco: sweet and buttery, similar to a Chardonnay, with hints of peach and melon.
I got drunk.
On Saturday I woke up expecting to find every venue closed and to search vainly for a speakeasy somewhere that would serve me a beer. Imagine my surprise when I walked into Shenanigan’s and they were open and serving. Turned out, as you know, that the Thai government didn’t shut down restaurants—just bars and gogos. Apparently, in Thailand you can only catch Covid in those places. Crowded eateries, malls, shops, and supermarkets are magically incapable of spreading the virus, but watching girls dance on a gogo stage will kill you.
Last night, I took a stroll around Patpong. Madrid, Derby King, Tip-Top (which was converted into a billiards hall), French Kiss, and Le Bouchon were all open and serving. Two bars on Soi 2 opened, but were quickly quashed by the cops. I wandered from Paddy to Shagz and onward, just bar-hopping, bored off my ass. I realized then that my worst mid-Covid night out in BKK is equal to everyone’s best night out in the West. This is what regular people do—go to watering holes and drink. Lame. I decided to take the opportunity to try out the cannabis restaurant on Surawong, ordering krapow gai with cannabis, and ham pizza with cannabis. The krapow was outstanding. The pizza was OK—prefab crust, very little sauce, and cheesy. But of course, the food is just a vehicle for transporting the leafy greens into one’s face hole. Get that hypnotic chlorophyll, y’all. I don’t remember getting loopy over it, or anything, but I did wind up staring at my phone for an hour that felt like five minutes.
After that, I swept back down Patpong Soi 2, and noticed the lights on in one of the gogos. I peeked inside, and found several of the Patpong Warriors discussing an upcoming project. I don’t want to give too much away, but it involves future live streams from several Patpong locations. More info to follow.
And speaking of gogos, it turns out that nightly from 5 pm, XXX Lounge will be open—yes, you read that right—and serving. Turns out they own a restaurant license, and so by serving food along with their booze, they can keep the lights on. Don’t expect to see anyone dancing onstage, but do expect to find several very attractive hostesses willing to “serve” you your meal and/or cocktail with a smile.
The menu, such as it is, is exactly the same as G’s German Restaurant on Silom Soi 4. So if you ever wanted to experience the joy and pleasure of that great food, but were too scared to venture onto the gay soi to get it, from today you can enjoy it in the comfort of XXX Lounge.
And that’s the week that was on Patpong. In the coming days, I hope to be able to report on the various ways the other bars circumvent the latest round of ridiculous Covid mandates. For a set of photos that go along with the above post, you can follow this link to my website: http://patpongnightlife.com/2021/04/11/not-quite-a-lockdown-pictorial-companion/
I guess I should say “thank you” to those Thai government officials who saw fit to allow restaurants to continue serving. Wherever you are, Thai officials, we who are about to punt salute you. So let’s get out there and tip a few. And when you do, take a moment to raise a glass to Thailand, where some of our freedoms still ring, unlike the dystopian, draconian, Orwellian West. Cheers, everyone.