Nana Entertainment Plaza – Then And Now
Further reflections by Pip, Bangkok resident for many years.
Back in the mid 80's – even as late as 1988, Nana Entertainment Plaza (it's always been called that) was basically a car park fringed by these drinking bars and restaurants. There used to be a restaurant in the far right corner, ground floor, now occupied by Rainbow 2 or partially that and Hollywood Royale. It was called the White Rabbit and did a splendid English Sunday lunch I recall, complete with the trimmings. One distinguishing feature (or gimmick?) was the fact that they reckoned they gave more than generous portions but if you needed more, you could have a second helping FREE. Don't suppose many people took up that option!!
10-12 years ago Hollywood Royale was the biggest, most patronised bar in Nana (ground floor, now Hollywood) but started out life known as Thriller Bar. Rainbow 2 as it's now called was opened as Ex-T-C (a pun on ecstasy) but that remained closed for an awful long time. The bar the other side of Hollywood Royale, now Playskool, was called Mon Cherie. Playskool opened in 1996 and has changed little since then although about that time, or a year or so later DW (CEO of the Crown Group) started building bars in the car park, the first was Pharaohs, followed by Road House to augment the plethora of outside bars that had already been built in front of most ground floor go-go bars.
Also on the ground floor, between Lollipop and Pretty Girl (or is it now Bottoms Up?) there was a Swiss or Austrian restaurant for many years with a Continental style pavement glazed dining area. I also seem to recall there being a Lebanese restaurant in Nana, possibly where Rainbow 1 is now situated. For a time the first two bars on the ground floor, left hand side were Lollipop and Bubblegum. (both Crown Group). As an innovation about eight years ago the proprietors introduced a very large ‘fish’ tank at the back of Lollipop bar, the idea being that naked girls swimming would be an attraction and a turn-on. However, in reality, because the water could never be kept crystal clear, the swimmers took on the appearance of colourless, bloated corpses floating in the water. What with that and the constant leaks from the lower areas, the whale show was eventually abandoned – well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.!!
I have always admired DW's attempts to try something new, such as angled mirrors at feet level for the benefit of the many voyeurs and I remember his being quoted as saying that the only thing the ‘punters’ wanted were tits and pubic hair. He certainly had a point. It was he, too, who first introduced shower shows to Nana Plaza, a concept copied or emulated at several other places in Nana and in Cowboy (at the Raw Hide bar).
The first (or middle) floor is much the same as it has been for years with the Woodstock restaurant still in the far corner and with Rosemary and the other small, undistinguished BJ bar there called Spiders Web, then the more up-market Fantasia, originally known as Asian Intrigue, one of the first to be opened by the Crown Group.. The other way round there was Madisons (now G-Spot) but always the biggest bar in Nana, and I believe I am right in saying it was the pioneer bar for shower shows.
Beyond the staircase, anti-clockwise is the famous (or infamous?) katoey Casanova bar, DC10, Sexy Nights some double-width bar whose name escapes me (now known as Angel Witch), then 3 single width bars Hollywood Stars, Hogs’ Breath finishing up at the corner with Three Roses, except they didn't smell as good!! For a time Hollywood Stars was connected with a now defunct bar that used to be called Vixens.
The third floor at Nana was desolate and unused for many years, the thinking being that 'punters' would never get up that far since there were too many distractions down below anyway. I believe it was Johnny Meadows who inaugurated the moves upstairs by creating a bar just round from the lift (LH side) opening as Slitz Bar (now Carousel) and then another next to it called, rather tamely, Hollywood Strip which was decked out all in a black resembling a funeral home. It was later changed to a hanky-panky massage place. That was not a success and eventually was fitted out into a small, intimate bar. But being sandwiched between Carousel and the then newly opened Hollywood II bar, that did not take off either and eventually became part of an enlarged Carousel bar when the dividing wall was demolished. Carousel was the first bar in Bangkok to my knowledge that introduced the revolving stage.
My mind often reflects back to the good days a few years ago (pre-Thaksin) when you could go to a bar – more or less any bar – in Nana and feast your eyes on 25-30 naked girls all dancing at once; bars like Rainbows I & II, Pretty Girl, Hollywood Royale, Carousel all spring to mind.
Today, unfortunately, Nana is anti-septic. No showing anywhere, parked motorcycles everywhere for one to trip over, outrageously high drink prices and over-pushy girls, all recipes presumably designed to keep the locals away in the hope that innocent tourists can be ripped off better hence, I rarely go there now.
Yes, even 7 years ago, it was WAY better than it is now.