Forbidden Colours 2 – Cascade Go-Go
My second favorite bar / go-go at NEP is also an exclusively lady boy venue: Cascade. Over the years I’ve felt that this cavernous bar has been close several times to assuming the mantle of best lady-boy bar in Bangkok, but for me it’s never quite managed to usurp Obsession. However, for the moment at least, Cascade is certainly giving Obsession a good run for its money.
Cascade is on the 2nd floor of NEP, at the back and on the LHS as you exit the stairs. It’s rare that there aren’t a cluster of girls around the door or setting having a fag or something to eat on the 2nd floor balcony and it’s a hard bar to miss. Inside, Cascade is a massive venue, possibly the largest space in the plaza, with a huge multi-leveled stage and lots of seating all the way around. To see the girls at their best you really want to be sitting in one of the three rows of seats that are on your right when you enter. When not dancing on the platform or one of the revolving platforms, the girls tend to stand in front of the stage or on either side and if you’re sitting to the RHS of the entrance, you’ll have a great view of the entire bar and the girls.
Nothing special to drink here; same range and prices as most of the other bars really, though you can get a diet coke at Cascade. I’ve been here a lot and never had a problem with extra drinks on the bill. It was in Cascade that I dropped my hand-phone one night and the staff looked after it for me until I returned later to pick it up.
I’ve found the music pretty good in Cascade; the DJ is a bit more active and part of the proceedings here, mixing-up the music styles and occasionally making announcements over the PA. It can also get loud later on and I’ve always enjoyed the vibe there, with some interesting remixes of popular tracks that I’ve not heard in other bars in town.
The working-girls at Cascade are a bit of a mixed bunch and you really don’t know what you’re going to get when visiting this bar on any given evening. I’d broadly classify them into several types (though this doesn’t cover the wide spectrum that constitutes the line-up in his bar):
 Plain Janes, in this group are the many girls that aren’t going to cut the mustard in Obsession and are not quite pretty or cute enough to make it in some of the other lady boy bars. There are a variety of reasons for this: sometimes it’s their body-shape, or their face is just a bit too masculine, or their teeth or some other aspect of their appearance that holds them back. The majority of my most enjoyable bar-fines and nights with girls from any bar or go-go come from this group, which only proves the old adage: never judge a book by its cover. I’ve found that most of the girls in this group are smarter, have more interesting personalities and are often the most jai dii girls a fella could come across.
 Girls on the way-up: some of the really good-looking girls that will later find their way to Obsession, the bars in Singapore, or even further afield, often start work at Cascade. Obsession will often have one or 2 girls in their line-up that have moved there from Cascade, and it’s always the lookers and high earners. In fact, my current fave girl at Obsession started-out at Cascade and after a nice boob-job she moved downstairs and is currently making serious money there. I’m not sure how this transfer works, but it seems to be a one-way relationship for the better looking girls.
 Girls on the way down: there are a number of girls in the present Cascade line-up that I remember from either Obsession or the Singapore scene. The life-span of these girls at or near the top seems short-lived to me, and a number of these girls will choose to end their careers at Cascade after a year or 2 in Singapore or perhaps Hong Kong.
 The Free-spirits: I could be wrong about this, but my impression is that the management in Cascade runs a slightly looser ship than Obsession and some of the other bars. Hence Cascade does appear to attract some girls that prefer more nights off than other venues would give them or who aren’t required to dance as much as they would in alternate bars. This is one of the reasons why Cascade will often have 5-10 girls in their line-up that could make a living anywhere and certainly the top 3-4 girls working in Cascade at the moment, are IMO the best looking lady-boys working in NEP, possibly even BKK. But you need to be quick, these elite few are not there every night and they don’t last long when they do appear. One can be sitting in the stalls, debating whether to break your bar-fine max limit for the evening and, before you can say “I’m not paying that” these girls will be whisked away, sometimes not to appear for a few days or more. If you’ve taken a shine to a particular girl, and you’d like to see more of her, fortune really does favour the brave in these places.
It’s also worth noting that Cascade has a large number or girls on their books, possibly pushing 100. On a busy night, with the stage full and most of the corridors and standing areas occupied, it’s a real feast for the eyes. At Cascade, their girls range from young, new to Bangkok girls that perhaps are at the start of their transformation, to some of the LB superstars that have seen it all throughout SE Asia and are some of the most sought-after, and photographed girls, in the lady-boy universe. When Obsession is full or is having a quiet night, Cascade is always my next port of call and many is the evening I’ve had a great time with the girls that work there.
The staff at Cascade is not quite as good as the Obsession wait staff and mamasans. The waitresses are fine, although here could be a few more of them when the bar is busy; the couple of bar managers do a fairly good job of fixing-up visitors with the girls. At times though, the mama-sans can be a bit over-bearing and I prefer to take my time, have a couple of beers and have a good luck around whilst looking at the talent. Being pestered by girls at Cascade can be a tad tiresome, especially when the bar is empty (as it surprisingly was on a couple of evenings last month: even at 10 PM on a Friday night).
The number of customers at Cascade does appear to go up and down alarmingly at times and its one of the key differences between that bar and Obsession. On almost any night of the week you’ll struggle to see the latter bar anything but busy after 9.30 / 10 pm, but Cascade doesn’t appear to get the same attention. On a recent week-end I left at about 10 pm as I was the penultimate customer – having almost 100 lady-boys looking at me and asking for a drink / chat / ST was not something I looked forward to (I hate being the only customer in any bar). Whether, it’s the relevant location of the 2 bars or the quality of the line-ups, I’m not sure, but when Cascade is having a good night and the place is busy, the clientele are much more varied than Obsession, with guys pulled from all corners of the globe these days. One thing that used to put me off was the ‘cabaret’ show that Cascade would put-on at about 12 midnight in the bar. The working girls would be shifted-off the stage and there would be a few songs by some lady-boy artists. I could never understand this and for me it tended to kill the atmosphere. I’m not sure if it is still going-on, as I’ve not been there that late for a while; I hope they’ve dropped-it.
The barfine is 600 baht and Cascade is really convenient for one of the ST hotels that occupy the upper floors of the plaza. The prices quoted for the girls are all over the place, during this recent high season one of the better looking girls wanted 4K for a ST (I passed) and the good-lookers in Cascade can certainly dictate there terms when the bar is full. I still reckon that the majority of girls would be happy with 1.5 – 2K and some of the ‘plainer’ girls might even go below this for a quick dash to a nearby hotel. A number of the girls that work at Cascade can sometimes be picked-up at the entrance to the plaza at times and it can be possible to pick-up a real looker for the night at below market rates! I’m not sure why they do this, perhaps they fancy a night-off or have already been for one ST and don’t fancy going back to the bar, but it pays to keep your eyes open when on a night out in the vicinity on NEP; there are some diamonds in the rough (and there’s a lot of rough in front of NEP at chucking-out time).
One downside to Cascade for me, but something I know a lot of the other customers like, is the antics of some of the working girls in and around the bar. Later on in the evenings, when both the customers and the girls have had a few beers, some of the goings-on in the seats can leave little to the imagination. It can appear that a customer or two doesn’t want to trouble with the bar-fine, but will take their pleasure there and then, in front of the entire bar. I don’t reckon I’m a prude, but I’m happy to enjoy myself back in the room or in one of the nearby hotels, and I’m not impressed to look-up from my beer and see a guy a few feet away getting a hand-job: call me old-fashioned ! But, if that’s your bag, then the girls in Cascade won’t let you down.
For my money Cascade is one of the best Thai bar / go-gos, with a huge venue, good music, sensible drinks prices, a large and varied line-up of girls that should have someone in their line-up to suit all tastes. It’s a bit more in your face than a lot of the other bars in the plaza and if you don’t like a lot of attention and girls grabbing for your family jewels whilst drinking your beer or walking to the WC, then this place might not be for you. But, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to NEP and not popped-in to Cascade for a least a drink and I hope to be doing so for a long time to come.
Cascade has an unusual layout and an interesting history. It was to feature an elaborate laser system but when the laser machine was offloaded from at the airport after being flown in from the factory in Taiwan where it had been manufactured it was damaged. It was later deemed too expensive / too much hassle to repair it. I stuck my head inside Cascade briefly the other day with Dave The Rave and the one thing that struck me was how tall some of the ladyboys in there were. A number were well above 6 feet tall!