Patpong Battles Back

In their wisdom, the Thai government finally lifted the ban on booze and pole dancers last week, and Patpong burst forth like an uncorked bottle of human champagne. Although she faltered at the starting line, by the time Friday’s Buddhist holiday booze ban arrived, she’d hit her stride, and Saturday felt like business-as-usual. Here’s a summary of how the week went down, once the girls got back in their g-strings:

Monday’s events were, in a word, confused. Word came down from on high that the booze ban was lifted. The Post and Coconuts reported that it wouldn’t happen until March 1st, but that didn’t stop zealous Patpong bar owners from opening immediately. Protocol was based on a consensus of rumors. You can open but the girls can’t dance, and they must wear street clothes, and you can’t play music. Bada Bing took the lead by ignoring all those rules and opening as usual. The cops tried to shut them down but Bing’s manager calmly explained to them that the rules referred not to gogo bars but nightclubs. The police immediately agreed, and went round to tell the other bars they may open as normal, but many of the bars spent Monday cleaning the 2 months of grime that had built up.

By Tuesday, the girls were dolled-up and pole swinging in 4 Patpong gogos. I made the rounds, supplying bottles of whiskey for the girls in Strip, Pagoda, and XXX, and noticed lots of new silicone tits and noses. And the cruisers were back. During the lockdown, the sois of Patpong were dark, dreary, and deserted. The second the bars opened, the constant stream of cars, motorbikes, and pedestrians returned. It seems those who won’t dare enter the gogo are content with furtive glances as they pass by over and over, lap after lap round the Pong. Though some do more than just ogle from outside. Pagoda was full of Thai customers on Tuesday—a new and welcome phenomenon in Patpong.

The girls returned with a vengeance. Their sexual potency veritably wafted up the soi. I grabbed so many tits and asses, my hands were sore. As the week wore on, the numbers of punters increased. On Wednesday and Thursday, Bada Bing and The Strip were both rammed. And no wonder. They were both packed to the roof with hotties. In The Strip, the girls had acquired a penchant for playing Jenga during the ban, and they carried on with it in the open gogo. Half of them were onstage, shaking their booties, while the rest were engaged in no less than three separate games of Jenga with crowds of customers. It was a wild scene.

My gogo besties are mainly divided between Black Pagoda and XXX Lounge, so I spent a lot of time bouncing from one to the other. Best and Nan are the sweetest company in Pagoda, along with JJ and Tui. At XXX, Earn and Jaruwann are the stars, but their circle of friends make a great supporting cast. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits all week—happy to be at work, happy to be onstage. Most were a bit chubbier, including myself—the unfortunate downside of two months’ inactivity. But I’m sure we’ll all be back to our swimsuit weight in no time.

Speaking of gaining weight, Shenanigans was back on Tuesday, just in time for 2-for-1 pints. I went a bit overboard on day one, ordering four beers at one time to go with my salt-chili chicken wings, but I was just so happy to be in there, I couldn’t help myself. Rolled in around 3:00 and by the time I left, there wasn’t an empty seat in the place. I guess a lot of expats were pleased to have their favorite watering hole back.

The gay end of the soi stalled their reopening, missing out on Monday and coming back in stages gradually. By Thursday, the north half of Soi 2 was mostly-open. The only joint at that end that stayed dark all week was Pink Panther.

Soi 1 stayed shut as well. King’s Castle 1 and King’s Corner finally flipped the lights on on Saturday. Kiss Bar, sadly, remained dark. Khun Tan, the owner of Kiss Bar, Crown Royal, and the Patpong Café reportedly turned in the keys to Crystal Palace on Tuesday. It’s sad news for Tan, but for Seven, it’s potentially the future location of a cigar and wine bar. Maybe I’m just fantasizing, but a Pong rat can dream. I’ve put the idea in the mind of Michael, owner of the Patpong Museum. Now all I can do is wait. Speaking of, it looks like Glamour won’t be back, unless and until someone rescues it. That means the gogo regulars from Glamour will scatter to other Patpong gogos, Pattaya, and maybe Nana and Cowboy when and if they recover.

Speaking of Soi 1, the live music bars remain closed, which makes sense, since they catered entirely to tourists. Daytime workers are remodeling Chillout Boy—the bar that long ago was Goldfinger, and even longer ago was The Mississippi Queen. While it doesn’t really make sense to open during the dearth of drinkers, perhaps it’s a sign of increasing optimism. Time will tell.

Last night, The King’s Group reopened Castle 1 and King’s Corner. The latter had 2 rotations of 9 girls each, and the former was at ¼ dancer capacity, which means there were 30 girls in total, comprised of mostly-new faces plus a handful of old favorites. The mood in both bars was akin to a family reunion, with lots of staff members hugging and catching up.

By Saturday, the bars and gogos open and running in Patpong were: BarBar, The Strip, Bada Bing, XXX Lounge, Black Pagoda, King’s Castle 1, King’s Corner, Patpong Café, Crown Royal, Madrid, Vinai’s Bar, Dragon Bar, Midnight, VL Gallery Bar, The Paddy Field, Shenanigans, French Kiss, The Old Other Office, Le Bouchon, Star of Light, and half the Soi 2 upstairs bars, gay bars, and LB bars, making Patpong the clear leader of Bangkok red-light districts in the age of The Koof.

Of the bars that didn’t come back—Kiss Bar, Safari, Cosmos, Crystal Palace, Glamour, Superstar, and Thigh Bar—we can only hope someone picks up the mantle. I’m told Thigh Bar is in complete hibernation and will return the second that tourists are allowed back into the country. Collectively, Patpong is…cautiously optimistic. Now it falls to the bar owners, girls, and punters to keep the RLD on life support until the tourists are permitted back. Rumors of waivers for vaccinated travelers abound, as do vague predictions of reopening the country in September. All we can do is drink and wait. And bounce girls in bikinis on our laps. Let’s do that.

For a pictorial record of the above accounted antics, you can pop over to my blog:

And let’s all raise a glass to those Thai authorities who finally made a good decision. With gratitude and relief, we salute you. Cheers.