Various Nightlife Observations
As an expat I thought I'd share with you some recent observations about BKK nightlife:
Price collusion on Cowboy: The other night I took a trawl through Cowboy and went to five different bars. Every one had precisely the same drink prices, written down on precisely the same printed menu. Before we feel sympathy for the bar owners bitching about the onset of low season, consider why some of them show absolutely no initiative to lure customers through a point of differentiation. And as much as it is fashionable nowadays to trumpet Cowboy and diss Nana, I still have a vastly easier time of it finding attractive approachable girls at Nana than Cowboy, and increasingly ye olde NEP is becoming comparatively cheaper. Your anecdote about the Shark girl this week is telling. I've never come across a Nana girl wanting more than 2K. And while Nana's customer base is about 70-30 farang-yipoon, I'd say it was closer to 50-50 at Cowboy, with the consequent inflation. When I first came as a punter to Thailand, the accepted wisdom was that Patpong was a rip-off (it was), Nana was the happy medium and Cowboy was a bit rough and ready. Now I'd say Patpong is the cheapest and roughest, Nana remains the happy medium and Cowboy is getting priced out. Everything old is new again.
Smokers' bar: You and I both know how utterly predictable it was that the Thai smoking ban would be somewhat less than uniform. In Patpong the other night, I went to one go-go where their nod to the smoking ban was to allow smoking but not ashtrays, pointing out an empty Coke can I could use. Another two bars refused smoking saying it was against the law, but the bar between them was quite happy to allow smoking inside – and ashtrays! (Hint, the bar that allowed it has a steady stream of Thai drinkers, some of whom are police). On my sojourn to the Cowboy, I wandered past Midnite. There were four guys – all solo – at the outside tables. I went inside and ordered a drink, there were no customers, the music was shite and girls ordinary, so I took my drink and sat outside too so I could have a smoke. I wonder how long it will be before a bar successfully bends the law by creating an outdoor or roofless go-go where you can have a squizz at the girls and be outside and smoke too? Should I patent it?
Low season in Nana: In Nana the other night, I dropped into G-Spot at primetime of around 10pm. I haven't taken a girl from there in years but have a sentimental attachment. I counted five customers including myself and – wait for it – 56 staff including dancers, floor staff, bartenders, welcome girls etc. Despite the ratio, not one girl had the initiative to get off her freckle and actually sit and speak with a customer. Fewer than 20 per cent of the on-stage girls were dancing, most locked in conversations no doubt about how best to screw customers – and I don't mean physically. The mamasan came over to me and chatted about how slow it was. I politely suggested some of the girls were on the 'kii-kiat' side and she was shocked, SHOCKED. A trio of customers left just before me, leaving one customer. I bet they still didn't talk to him.
Funny yet disturbing: On the visit to Nana I finally drank enough to feel in the mood, purloined a lass and we went upstairs to the short-time hotel next to the Cascade ladyboy bar. I read the Thai sign on the wall, which was directed to ' ying tair' and 'ying thiam' – real girls and fake girls – obviously in reference to the many ladyboys who take their customers there. That raised a smile, but it soon disappeared when I read the body of text which asked them not to leave blood on the sheets. I asked the girl why the message was required and she said often girls at their time of month leave blood on the sheets, as do the ladyboys who might find their customers a touch bigger than they like. Given what you were writing the other week about the number of halfwits who don't use condoms, I found that more than a touch disturbing.
Honesty can be chilling: Many guys bemoan the somewhat tangential relationship between the truth and bargirls' version thereof. But perhaps they'd be better off not knowing. The other day I was wittering away in Thai to a stunningly attractive Nana go-go girl. She happily volunteered that she had 4 farang boyfriends who sent her money, each believing that their stipend was keeping her out of said premises. How much? One was sending 30K per month, one 25K, one 20K and the Cheap Charlie was shipping 10K. Given she was also pulling down 20K per month in salary, add on lady drinks, barfines and principally her mating fee and I'd say she would be conservatively pulling in at least 150,000B per month. That's almost as much as me on an expat package. I asked her if she had room for another boyfriend? You bet. But it won't be me.
Superb strike rate: I was in a Nana go-go and it happened to be the day when all the girls were receiving their pay packets. Yes, they still have the old fashioned brown paper envelope filled with cash. On the front was a docket itemising the pay, all written in English. I asked to look at one girls' docket, and she was happy to offer it, curious to know what it said. In one month, she was late 27 times, which is less than surprising given she is Thai. What was more surprising was that she had a mere 44 lady drinks bought for her in the month yet 34 barfines. This girl clearly does not mess around.
Happy for who? Cowboy bar has a sign saying Barfine – 700 baht. Happy hour – 800 baht. Happy for who? Overpriced, uniform and defying logic – you have to wonder.
I appreciate your submission – a lot of interesting observations and thoughts. There were a few comments or issues I disagreed with and outlined here.
– the reason that 5 bars in Soi Cowboy have the same drinks prices on the same printed menus is because the 5 bars are all owned by the same guy!
– you have never never fund a Nana girl wanting more than 2000 baht? Have you ever been into any of the Rainbow bars? In fact in most bars I am sure girls ask for more than 2000 baht. They might be prepared to negotiate but I am sure they want more.
– 50 : 50 farang to Japanese at Cowboy? I personally have never seen that, nor even close it.
– The bar which charges a higher barfine at happy hour (early in the evening) than later is simply that the bar does not want the girls barfined so early in the night. If they are barfined early then there will be fewer girls in the bar through the night which can mean fewer customers for the bar.