After very long, frustrating and painful months of COVID restrictions, Pattaya nightlife has resumed on June 1. According to media reports, since June 1, Thai government’s CPVID instructions allow Pattaya’s gogo bars and airconditioned gentleman’s lounges to unlock their doors. But many seem to have ignored the legal change or decided to tone down their entertainment to remain as “restaurants”. Walking Street, even in mid-week, is humming but the busiest venues are interactive and live music-discos such as 808 and Stones. A newcomer Cavalli specifically attracts Indians and replaces the nearby Nashaa club which mysteriously burned down last year.
But some once-famous gogos such as Miami are still closed and do not appear to be under renovation with their for-rent notices fluttering in the wind. One or two have already been demolished by bulldozers. Others, previously converted into restaurants, seem happier to remain as they were before June 1: bars and clubs which allow staff to socialize with customers but avoid the gogo stereotypes. Ning Charoen, who has worked in Walking Street for 10 years, said, “Many of us think gogos aren’t worth the trouble until the midnight ban on booze sales is ended”.
Sexy Soi Six, Soi L.K.Metro and the area of Tree Town in Soi Buakhao are the other busy areas after dark, but there are no distinct differences since the so-called liberalization. Many are open bars and staffed by ladies in skimpy dresses doing their best to recruit customers. But there are not many premises actually promoting themselves as gogos. A manager told us that there is a registration procedure with the health authorities known as Thai Stop Covid2 Plus which is complicated. “People are waiting to see if health rules such as asking to see customers’ vaccination records are actually enforced”.
Over on Boyztown and at the Jomtien Complex, the gay scene is much the same story. The Complex has never housed gogo bars as the law forbids them in a “residential” area. Its 20 or so open bars and massage parlors were operating just as they did last month. Boyztown has reopened a couple of gogos but others in the area are still closed. Cabaret entertainment, on the other hand, is now available midweek and not only at weekends. Generally speaking, Pattaya nightlife across the spectrum is definitely rebounding, but that has nothing to do with the government’s much-publicized reopening on June 1. Not yet anyway.
Light bulbs were replaced and decorations enhanced as the Pattaya night scene embarks on the road to recapture its former glory. Revelers packed bars and clubs early evening, June 1, to get in as much entertainment and drinking as they possible could before the midnight closing hour.
One publican observed that before the pandemic, the bars and clubs would start to fill up after 10 p.m. but now that the closing time is limited to midnight, imbibers came out earlier to get the most of the time available for carousing and amusement.
Our reporter walked around Walking Street and Tree Town in Soi Buakhao to observe and talk to dram shop operators in the area. He noticed that all of them had big smiles on their faces as their bars and restaurants had many customers eating and drinking and enjoying themselves.
“We are happy again” said one barkeeper. “We have suffered for far too long. From now on we will open our shops every day. Our regular customers will come to us daily and we will also get new customers now that the country is fully open to allow foreign tourists to come to Thailand”.
All business operators said the same thing, “We hope the government will allow us to operate longer hours, at least until 2 a.m. for now. These are the best business hours for bars and pubs. We need the money badly. Plus, holiday makers don’t want to go to bed at midnight. They are just getting warmed up”.
Pattaya awakened from its 2-year slumber on June 1 as bars, pubs and massage parlors tore away the plastic wrappers from their lounge chairs and wiped off the dust gathered in their premises brought on by 2 years of hibernation.
Pattaya Mail reporter made the rounds of massage parlors around Pattaya to see how their businesses were faring and noticed that most of them were quite satisfied with the customer traffic inside their ostentatious premises.
As is evident nowadays, Indians are the predominant tourists in town which was also quite noticeable in the massage parlors.
An employee at one of the houses of relaxation said that the business owner organized a big cleaning before the opening and the premises looked spick and span, lit up with warm lights exuding a cozy and enticing atmosphere. The massage parlor operators also hired many new attractive female staff with assurances of total satisfaction for their customers.
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