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Duncan Stearn 05.05.2010 12:08

Snap! I’ve bagged the full set: After almost 11 years of living in Pattaya I can say without fear of contraception that my freelance writing career has been peripatetic (or, as some wags may wish to put it, very pathetic). Like an itinerant hobo, I have moved around a lot over the years. A suspicious person might get the impression I was trying keep one step ahead of the peelers and their shiny bracelets.

The Nightmarch column, which commenced back in the dark ages, in June 2000, is making its first appearance in this edition of the Pattaya Times newspaper. I have previously penned nightlife columns under the Nightmarch banner for four other weekly or fortnightly newspapers or magazines, the last one over a seven and a half year stretch. Sounds like a prison sentence.

For readers of the Times who may not be familiar with this aspect of my work, Nightmarch deals with the bar scene in and around Pattaya, primarily focussing on the 80 or so go-go bars and the almost endless numbers of Sierra Tango (S/T) boozers.

The reason for this focus is simple. While there are literally hundreds of beer bars scattered the length and breadth of Fun Town, even those employing a brace of very attractive girls are lucky if they manage to keep them for more than a few weeks at best. This is because anyone with even moderately functioning peepers is capable of sitting on a bar stool and picking out a potential foot warmer for an evening -or a lifetime- by just looking around. Therefore, unless a beer bar has something unusual about it, or is having a birthday or anniversary (and they let me know in plenty of time via my email address), I tend to write precious little about them.

Not so the go-go bars -most concentrated in and around the Walking Street area -and the dine-and-dash joints, the seething multitude down Soi 6 being the prime and best-known example. In order to determine what’s good, or not quite up to scratch, in these places it is necessary to enter beneath the darkened portals of these premises and consort with the denizens within. The results are brought to you in print, penned usually some time between having my wallet emptied and my stomach pumped.

Sneeze and you’ll miss it: Connoisseurs of the delights of amber froth in anything other than draft form and looking to try something a little different might like to wander into the Baby Dolls go-go, located in Soi 15, off Walking Street on Wednesday night 12 May.

Apart from its rather in-your-face collection of ladies of dubious virtue and missing apparel, Baby Dolls is stocking a brand of amber fluid in a can called Archa. While the name sounds like something you do involuntarily if you have a head cold, I am led to believe it can be quite an effective intoxicant. On the night of 12 May Baby Dolls will be holding a special Archa promotion night with the amber fluid priced at just 50 baht a can all night. Normally Archa retails at 85 baht, so this promotion offers a real discount to anyone who might like to give it a whirl. Baby Dolls is one of the better chrome pole palaces in Fun Town anyway, so the promotion serves as a good excuse to stick your head in and see who’s up who and who hasn’t paid.

Nothing rough about this place: The Diamond go-go (Soi Diamond, off Walking Street) has been in business for more than 10 years now under the same ownership, which is quite a record in the open one day, closed the next nature of the bar scene in Pattaya.

One of its features is its in-house dance contests. These began back in 2002 and have been held fairly regularly ever since. At one point they were being held every month, but this was a bit like gilding the lily and the management now tend to space the events. The last one was held in late April and, apart from the in-house dancers, also featured a crutch of Bangkok babes, most of whom look like poster children for the silicon implant market. These girls are hired out by a Bangkok agency and spend a week to 10 days strutting their stuff in the Diamond den before returning to the capital.

On ordinary evenings Diamond tends to be a little quiet in the early hours, but usually starts to ramp up the action from about 10:00pm onwards. The girls who feature in their regular tongue dancing shows do appear to enjoy their feline-like cavity cleansing activities.

New brooms, old guard: The popular Windmill Club (Soi Diamond) and its upstairs neighbour Tramps were sold by their majority shareholder a couple of months back. Many people thought Dave, the English owner, was a most unlikely character to run a bar in the mean and hungry streets of Pattaya, but he proved them very wrong by making a great success of his ventures. A non-smoker and non-drinker, Dave finally had enough of the scene and has apparently returned to the Land of the Daily Drizzle, richer for the years of experience. The new owners are now running the dens their way, although Wild Bill in Windmill appears to be trying to keep the same format in place that made his joint one of the successes of recent years.

Heard on the street: I happened to be walking down the increasingly gender-confused Pattayaland Soi 2 one evening and had to laugh at a comment by a quite attractive spruiker standing out the front of the Legs go-go bar. After the usual "welcome, come inside please, have draught beer…" and whatever, she ended her spiel with the words that Legs contained "lady not boy."

Given the plethora of pink dens scattered along and nearby the soi and the predominance of katoeys in the now increasingly misnamed Kitten Club directly across the road, I suppose it makes good sense for the welcome girls to make sure the passing parade of potential punters are at least made aware of the gender of the dancers inside a bar.

Not as Eazy as it looks: According to information I received from Deadly Derek, mine host of the long-running Clinic sports emporium in Soi Yamato, the owners of the Nice & Eazy boozer have shut up shop after 10 or so years and returned to Blighty.

Those with long memories will recall the bar started as a go-go in the mid to late 1990s and the original owner Pommy Ken created two of the funniest t-shirts ever seen in Fun Town. The original t-shirt began with ‘The 10 most common Thai sayings and their English meanings’. The second t-shirt continued the trend with another 10 Thai sayings rendered into an English language meaning. For me the funniest were ‘Today my birthday (I was born on a Monday, today is Monday)’; ‘I only work here one week (I’m a lying bitch)’; ‘You happy, I’m happy (I’m happy if you pay)’; and ‘I will write to you (my bank account details are)’. That last one shows just how long ago the bar opened. Nowadays the statement would be something like ‘I will email you…’

The lights are going out over Pattaya, never mind Europe: As Fun Town prepares to weather yet another low season period where external factors are not helping matters, the numbers of closures are not yet alarming, but they are concerning.

Apart from the above-mentioned Nice & Eazy, Soi Yamato has also seen the closure of the Moulin Rouge rest and relaxation centre after almost 20 years of operation. Although the ownership of the place changed fairly regularly, the name remained the same. It seems as though the rise of areas such as Soi Buakhow, LK Metro and the resurgence of Walking Street has helped to bring down the curtain.

Further afield, the Paradise go-go at the southern end of Soi Buakhow has once more closed its doors. At least this was the case towards the end of April, but the management of the joint seem to make a habit of having a revolving door policy on the bar: one month open, one month closed.

A Sierra Tango joint primarily designed to attract the expat market, the Stork Club (Pratamnak Road) closed after a fairly short tenure. I am led to believe there are leasing issues at the heart of the closure and it may be some time before Stork re-opens, if ever.

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