The Nightlife Is Being Killed
This is fresh off this rainy night.
I was in Nana tonight as usual, sometime after nine pm, and hit Mandarin, looked in Mercury (not worth a beer), Fantasia (not worth a beer), Rainbow 4 (worth a couple because I have known a few girls there), Rainbow 3 (only worth one beer).
As the rain poured down I decided to make my way back around the second floor past Angelwitch, Casanova, Rainbow 4 and Fantasia to get to Rainbow 1 by the staircase behind the escalator. I was haled by Dave the Rave at Angelwitch as I passed by.
Dave went on a rant about how certain bars were cutting the price of beer and that Nana was coming back up and competing against Cowboy. It was a machine gun presentation with hardly a breath taken and its sole focus was the price of beer. He kept saying 'the bars are really trying, really trying and it’s only those cheap Charlies who probably mostly live abroad who keep whinging.'
Well, he caught me at a bad time. I replied in as direct a manner as I could and here is the flavour of it:
'People don't give a shit about the price of beer. We want bars that cater to our needs. Why the fuck am I listening to African American music at full volume so my head hurts in a bar that has no God-damned talent. I haven't been in Angelwitch for two years because your beer is too expensive, your music is shit, and the women are unattractive.'
Following this salvo, Dave began to tell me how he has 'tried' hard to convince the owner blah, blah, blah.
I replied that I didn't give a shit how hard he tried. 'This is the bar business, not an apprenticeship, for Christ's sake. I want bar owners who cater to my needs, not idiots who are trying to figure out the bar business.'
I went on to say that the big problem with the bar business is absentee owners who don't know in the first instance how the fuck to run a bar. I had a friend visiting from Canada last week. We went to Lucky Luke's bar, no owner on site. The music was so loud and so shite, we left after one beer. We tried another one – same thing. Thais simply do not understand that in a bar beer situation we like to talk. They think bar, loud music, fun – because they don't talk. The entire bar business in the West is predicated on a reasonably quiet place for men to discuss life, business, sex, and so on, not to shout at one another over some ghetto music that fits absolutely no demographic in the bar.
When have you ever heard anyone in the bar business (they are all amateurs who have seen Casablanca too often – 'yeah, hey, like I'm a bar owner in Bangkok') say 'who are my customers and what do they want?' Never. These bloody amateurs are ruining the bar business in Bangkok. I don't care what you say about the gogos as some sort of cash cow, farangs are first rate amateurs in running bars here who leave the detail to Thais who have no fucking idea what farangs want. Sorry, have I made myself clear?
When I got clear of Nana and went to the Golden Beer Bar I can give you a case in point because I witnessed it. The bar patrons were either like me, alone contemplating life and the rain, or engaged in conversation with their girlfriends or bargirls. As I paid for my beer, the bartender reached behind her and cranked the volume up. No reason, no sense, no knowledge. No manager asked for that. No patron asked for that. It was just done. Last week I was in the place when some heavy metal, screaming, angst music suddenly came on the system. When I queried it, I was told that some guy at the end of the bar (I saw him – open shirt, loaded with prison tats) had paid 100 baht for what he wanted. I mean fuck the rest of the bar and he forked out a hundred.
The bar scene in Bangkok consists of pretty well no managed businesses that are customer focused. Cyrus the Virus you report on is a case in point. What is he? An Iranian Muslim who thinks we all want neon and katoeys inside a bar that shows little. Yeah, wild in Tehran, boring in Bangkok. Dave the Rave said the owner of Mercury was 'trying' and beer there was 90 baht after the happy hour. I met the husband of the owner (Dave probably thought because he put up the money he was the owner) and I asked him why, on his big draw days at the weekend why his girls were covered up like Cowboy dancers. "Oh well the wife wants to 'try' something different.” You think she knows anything about running a business, especially a bar business?
The nightlife here is being killed from the inside by inept owners and managers who think they should be rewarded for 'trying' to figure out how to run a business. Nothing is consumer focused and everything is owner focused. DJs run the bars when the owners are absent, some disco deaf Thai guy from Isaan with about 6 years of education who has never been abroad. Nana Disco which was without a doubt an icon in this city has been killed by its idiot owner who figured his cash flow was more important than customer satisfaction and put an entry fee on the door. I used to go several times a week but never been since the charge went on. Same for Q Bar. And look what the idiot owner did to Erotica! He killed Mercury by turning it into a pool bar and poured concrete on the glass floor at Erotica, once the hottest bar in the plaza. And Hollywood Strip, twice renovated by some idiots and now closed. Geez, I know too much and it is distressing.
Can you feel my pain and why I have to get away from this imploding country?
What you say is, sadly, oh so true.