Enjoying….Thailand’s Nightlife

After delving into a myriad of baffling beliefs in me last blog, I thought that it was time that I’d write something way off the usual stevesuphan topics and so, put together a piece on the ins and outs of ‘going out in Thailand’

Once upon a time not so long ago Thailand and especially Bangkok, was a paradise haven for partygoers wishing to boggie the night away before returning back to their crash-pads just before the infamous five-thirty in the morning traffic jams. However, since such behaviour was deemed ‘un-Thai’ our blessed ‘Ministers of Interior’ have advised that we should all be back in our cozy beds early and in a fit state to get to the office the following morning. Then, as for the foreign tourists, it was perceived that none of them were interested in coming to Thailand for the nightlife and so a one-in –the-morning closing was ideal for getting up early enough to set off for the Floating Market before visiting twenty-nine temples and three markets in the space of a day.

So, if its round-the-clock boogie-woogie yer after, you’ll have to go elsewhere to the likes KL or Singapore instead where such time enforcement laws hardly exist. As for the likes of meself, I’m not exactly much of a party-pooper these days and can usually be found tucked-up in bed before eleven.

Anyway, for any of you readers who’d care for a lowdown on Thailand’s nightlife let’s first start with the ‘Thai Disco’. Well… unlike in the west, a whole pack of guys can arrive at a venue looking as down-right shabby as possible, half-drunk, be vulgar to all the lady guests outside and still get a VIP welcome (just as long as they have money of course). In fact most Thai guys aren’t as bad I’d say as the average male Farang tourist who shows up, with a Beer Chang can in hand, cursing at the taxi driver while wearing flip-flops and a Beer Lao t-shirt. Actually, Thais can be so forgiving of some obnoxious Farang tourists that if it were a Thai guy he’d be given the boot out the door almost straight away.

Unless yer off to some flashy western-type disco down Siam Square or the early Sukhumvit Sois you’ll soon be finding out that a Thai-style disco is prosiacally different to what you may have got used to back home. Instead of a certain…DJ Jackhammer strutting-his-stuff, we in Thailand have the better view of a variety of awe-inspiring girlie singers wearing as little as is permissible by the Ministry of Culture. Then, if girlies aren’t your your cup-of-tea there are always a couple of hunky-dory male singers sporting a Doraemon-like haircut. Even so, you can’t beat some of the standard around and its been reckoned that Thailand is second only to The Philippines in the region for the standard of its ‘Live Music’. Then, for the foreigners who haven’t the foggiest to Thai music and think it ‘all sounds the same’ then most big disco bands will soon be playing their 5,673rd rendition of Hotel California and Another Brick in The Wall for your pleasure.

As for dancing, unless it’s some foreign-targeted disco, you’ll soon be finding out that your boogie-woogie space is limited to half a square foot. That means keep yer legs firmly still and just boggie the top half of yer body (at yer table) ie. authentic Thai discos come minus an actual dance floor. Anyway, who needs the sight of a whole stack of wayward drunken delinquents wobbling around the dance floor making a fool of themselves, when there is in fact, far better ISO 14001 passable quality to be admired singing on the actual stage? Guess the Thais have a better sense of visual beauty in that regard.

One other cultural difference to ‘disco etiquette’ is that you ought to spend the whole night only associating with those who you came with ie.. the people at yer table. As a foreigner though, the Thais prefer bending the rules a bit (especially the upcountry male ones) and enjoy shouting out some micky-mouse English along the lines of ‘Hey, where you come from?” to some foreigners just to show off to their their awesome langauge ability to their friends.

And so, you can imagine just how many foreign guys have run into the precariously dangerous situation after they have been spotted by some Thai guys, chatting up their girlfriends. Many years ago, I had a friend of mine that ended up with a gun to his head outside a disco in Chiang Rai after he had failed to realise that Thai girls in Thai-style discos are not the easy catfish catch as they are down say… Pattaya and certainly not willing to have a smoochy-slow-dance with any old Dick and Harry. So guys, you have been warned.

Well, for any those readers out there who aren’t exactly into the habit of going to a disco and getting completely sploshed out of yer head, then Thai discos are right down your street. Beers aren’t exactly that popular with our counterpart Thai disco-goers, but whiskey is instead. Don’t be frightened however about any heavy consumption of alcohol as the waiters/waitress adds as little whisky as barely possible to one glass before filling it up with soda and coke thus making the alcohol minutely detectable. You’ll be consuming so much ice and mixers that you’ll be leaving for home more sober than when you arrived.

Of course, our Thai friends have a love for cleanliness and that includes keeping the table clean and dry at all times. Just have a single nut fall off the plate and one of yer female acquaintances will soon have a tissue out clearing away the mess. Then, Thais have an ingenius idea for keeping the table dry. Just wrap a piece of tissue paper around the glass so it resembles a tissue holder. Unfortunately however the tissue paper used isn’t much different from that used in the lavatory.

On arriving at a Thai disco, it is advised that you locate your seating wisely and that means short distance from the toilets. Some discos in Bangkok are so darned massive and packed out that it can take you ten minutes just to get there. Unlike in the west where the toilets are a place to do yer business and get straight out of, Thai Disco toilets are a little place all of their own. If yer feeling a bit worn out there are a whole string of eager attendants waiting to massage yer neck and shoulders while you relieve yourself before throwing you a hot towel to sober you up a bit. This is Thailand and its not only women who have the rights to parade themselves in front of the toilet mirror for half an hour dollying themselves up, us men can do exactly the same thing. There are an array of combs, hairbrushes, gels and in some discos even colognes to get that perfect John Travolta look you’ve always wanted. Of course, not too many things are exactly free in Thailand and a tip is expected. In fact, these toilet attendants don’t even get a salary in these places as the tips can be often quite handsome.

And finally, this is Thailand and not Amsterdam. The authorities in charge along with the Minister of Interior have enjoyed ‘busting’ nearly every single Bangkok disco there is over the past few years and subjecting all the partygoers to a mandatory pee-pee check to make sure that they have not been indulging in any unwanted illegal substances before going out that night. Even though there are thousands of ‘scummy-type’ illegal discos in Bangkok they are no fun for the authorities to bust as the cop cells just aren’t large enough to accommodate all the druggies. Therefore, a fave destination to ‘do the bust’ is at the higher class ones which are frightfully popular with foreign tourists. Great for the tourism industry, the authorities in charge just love hassling all these well-to-do tourists just off the plane to the likes of ‘You take drugs? No, well show me yer pee-pee as evidence’.

At the end of the day however, i’ll just have to say: I prefer Thai-style.

10 responses to “Enjoying….Thailand’s Nightlife

  1. nice.. :)
    I remember before they have the “close at 1am” rules, we used to party from night till dawn… well, almost dawn anyway since i’m already half dead by 4am…. :p Thai disco is fun… esp those dancing and singing shows they have. Usually gorgeous lady singers… dosen’t matter even though we don’t know what she’s singing most of the time… hehe
    Now i just hang around pubs.. drinking and chatting with friends… :)

  2. So true…I dig the places, though. In fact, my girl and I might go to one tomorrow….:)

  3. I went to BabyBlink down at RCA on my first visit to BKK back in 2000. It was exactly how you described in yer blog. It was something that I was not expecting, but I’m a ‘maipenrai’ kinda guy, so it was all good.
    I then went down to Phuket and went to Banana and Shark. Wow, a complete turnaround, but a blast just the same. There is something for everybody in the nightlife of Thailand.

  4. I went to BED my last trip back for the Tuesday Hip Hop night. BED is more Western style with Thai flavors – people staying in their own groups, no place to dance, that kind of thing.

    The guest DJ on the other hand, haven’t studied Thai night life culture: what’s in is what’s cool. Obscure ain’t it. He showcased some tunes nobody have heard of, so nobody was dancing. Then he started playing hiphop-y stuff from the Top 20/classic list and poof, the floor was PACKED in seconds.

    That was lots of fun. :)

  5. It was my last day, during my first short visit to Thailand and I did not want to go to my hotel room for that would bring the morning fast! So, I spent much of the entire night in a disc dancing alone( cannot remember the name or I do not want to say LOL!) I think I must have seemed rather funny… to be so happy, so alone, so shaking. even though I do not know dancing much (but that time I never thought I am going to return to Thailand again… so was happy to dance anyways ) And then I walked my way to the hotel, which must have been some 3km away. On the way an prostitute who was rather old for her profession (I was really curious who would pick her) caught on me and started talking. Well, I decided that I would give her some money so her night is made and then we sat together on a bench talking about her life!!! That was unexpectedly a very good time!!!

    But I doubt I can do the same again… because it seems such senseless energy comes only in the very first time! Or maybe not!

  6. I used to go to the discoteque with the same group of friends week after week when I was a single, twentysomething in Bangkok. In most cases, we just spent the night in our own group. Once in a while, if someone in my group bumped into a friend at the discoteque a mingling with a new group happened.
    I was the youngest amongst my friends and they were protective of me. I got to talking to a guy once who was flirting with me a lot. The next day, I got a phone call from my close friend. The guy had asked his friend, who knew me, if she could get my permission for him to call me. She told him that she did not know me very well but she knew that another girl was friends with me and she would ask her. So she phoned this other girl who said, yes we are friends but there is another who is closer to me and she should be consulted first. So, the phone chain went on and the second girl called the third, who was my closest friend in Bangkok. When she phoned me my friend said, listen, that guy that you were talking to last night, he wanted your phone number we (the three girls) talked and decided that he could not have it. She went on to say he is a jaochoo (playboy) and I don’t want to date a guy like that. My initial reaction was disappointment, but I have met my share of jaochoos and chances are my friends were doing me a favor.

  7. Thanks for the comments as usual.

    Couple of things i didnt mention in the blog. One is very similar to what Nal wrote, a lot of folks do pick up boyfriends/girlfriends from discos but it’s a much slower progressive procedure.

    A lot of foreigners complain to the likes of ‘A lotta the girls are only looking for guys with money’

    This sounds like a bit of a joke to me. Where im from in England its not any darned different. You walk into a pub in England straight off the bus and most of the English girls there arent gonna give you a second look. But, if you come in a BMW and park it right outside you’ll soon have a fleet of girls coming up asking you to buy them a drink. Come on….there’s no difference.

    Sure, a lot of loose girls do go to discos in the hope of spotting some guy with a bitta cash. Then, hopefully if gets half drunk he’ll even pay their bill, after; the girls just flee the scene leaving him a phoney telephone number. Just ask any Thai guy and he’ll tell you.

    In fact there is even a saying in Thai that goes ‘You won’t find yer soul-mate (neua khoo) in a pub’.

    In regards to what Oakmonster writes. Its very true that western DJs, on first arriving don’t realise that very few of the ongoers aren’t into none stop rave all night as ‘drugs’ aren’t a big thing at discos in Thailand anymore since the very heavy clampdown, as mentioned in the blog.

  8. I do my best to avoid this kind of stuff, because the few times I went to check it out, I found this kind of “entertainment” extremely boring and unpleasant.

    So it was a surprise that I found a blog about the subject somewhat interesting – the same way I would find a well-written blog about the courting rituals of Swasiland interesting. It was a nice insight into a strange lifestyle. Thanks Steve. :)

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  10. About the places called karaoke, the warehouse-looking buildings with the 8-12 pretty girls in dresses outside.
    What is the term for these buisnesses in the language of the users of this forum?
    But I was wondering what the deal is with them. Are they like foreigner bars? They’re for Thais, obviously, as the girls rarely speak English. What are the services? Can you have a girl inside? Can you take them out, or give them your number under your chair, and PFP them? Are all the girls available? Are all the Karaoke Places the same? or are some no-sex and others basically brothels?