The coolest bar on Soi Bangla, Hard Rock!
Early on in Old Patong, one thing that seemed to knit the locals with the travelers, tourists and ExPats together was the language of music, more to point, Rock N Roll!
Guitar Noi was the first rocker/musician we met or heard, he played local boy Dannys electric guitar unplugged or his steel stringed acoustic guitar in Chi-An’s beach shack across the beachfront path from Mr Singhs Valentine Bungalows.
Chi-An would BBQ fish, serve Green Spots/Singhas sometimes Mehkong as we’d sing along with Guitar Noi all night long.
The early years saw a few music oriented clubs appear along the new road, Soi Bangla[Bar Road].
The first and biggest was Gonzo Bar, it was a very large, open on all sides, palapa[palm frond]roofed joint. Gonzo was run by a goofy Scandanavian, his 100 watt stereo could be heard for 100 meters in all directions, he placed several large “Papasan” chair[looking like large saucers/bean bag design,which could hold several customers in the same chair, comfy for sure]scattered under the large palm roof, the service was excellent, the grog icy and cold and music, mostly “disco” at the time, but also English rock and it was LOUD! They also sold some cool looking modern designed clothes! Trendy for sure.
The first Bar Soi in Old Patong after Gonzo was torn down to make this…. loud, each place had different music, crazy for sure
The only other bar was on the beach, directly across the path from Lada’s corner bar, it went by the name “Disco”, it was circular, fairly large, open on all sides but about a 1/3 the size of Gonzo and was mostly frequented by Northern Europeans, a few locals and was known to gouge customers at every chance, playing only Disco, we went in once, got overcharged for 4 beers when we only had two,etc, we never went back again.
A few years later, the Banana Disco opened over the previous “VDO Shop” where we rented VCR/BetaMax movies. The place was a true disco with black lights and strobes and was a busy place. Enclosed, dark, LOUD!
Slightly east of Gonzo opened a new trendy music bar called “HardRock” bar, Patong. Either enclosed,shop-house style long rectangle shape or the outside “wagon”…
This place was run by Mac and his partner Deja. Local boys from Bangkok, they had the “official” HardRock tee shirts for sale and the music there was often Led Zepelin, Rolling Stones, Dire Straights,etc, decent Rock N Roll. The shop was rather small, dark inside, but they had this funny looking “Conestoga Wagon”[covered wagon like in the old Wild Western Movies]out front. It held about 8 customers and Mac or Deja would run drinks out to us as the music screamed on above the din of normal conversation.
Nearby, across the street was the new “Bogart Bar”, “Bogart” was a wily Aussie, his wife a local stunning “Tina Turner” look alike, brought many to his place, the very FIRST air conditioned bar[outside of the big Patong Beach Hotel where Guitar Noi played organ for the mostly Nikorman Bus tourists that stayed there]. Bogart had the newest stereo system and it was certainly the LOUDEST place on the beach, totally enclosed, the place was dark inside, but had flashing lights and Bogart had the first “shooters”[a concoction of pineapple juice/vodka/mehkong/salt/gin]that you crane your neck backwards and a beautiful waitress would pour about 1/4 liter of this secret liquid quickly down your throat all the while “Sweet Home Alabama” was bursting through the speakers at 250 watts!
Mr Valentine, owner of Valentine Market with his granddaughter sitting in the Spirit of Patong. Kangaroo Bar in the background.
A newer happy place was/is the Kangaroo Bar, it was right next to the Signhs Valentine Store. This place was a necessary stop for ALL Aussie tourists, locals and others that wanted to have a non stop fun time! Like the rest of the bars on Soi Bangla, it never really closed until the bartender, usually Aussie Andrew crawled under the bar and went to sleep as the sun leaped up from behind the rubber tree’d mountains east of the rice paddy.
Next door to Hard Rock Patong was “Purple Haze”, sometimes we go there if Hard Rock Patong was too busy or after midnight when Guitar Noi and Say and a few of the other local musicians would wander in after playing their gigs at various hotels along the beach road.
Purple Haze was started and run by the guy that owned the Credit Card Money Shop on the beach road. When we first walked in, we asked slighly, “Mee Rock N Roll”?, he grinned and said “Mak Mak Rock N Roll”!!, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
Guitar Noi and Say could play anything they or we’d ever heard and did!!
We’d be rocking into the dawn, only going home when the last note of the electric guitar left the fretboard.
Old Patong, where music was the cosmic dye and friends met.