Bangkok Speakeasy: A Monger Finds A Way

Happy Sunday, reader. My name’s Seven, and I’m a sometimes staff writer for BKKNites. Thanks for clicking on us.

As you well know, the inane, unnecessary, stupid, pig-headed, destructive, foolhardy, anti-human lockdown continues. Not just in Bangkok, but worldwide. In Bangkok, people can for the most part go about their business—except when it comes to the fun stuff. Bars remain shut. Restaurants can open but they can’t sell booze for some retarded, inexplicable reason. And worst of all, the red-light districts are also shuttered.

Of course, the police can’t cover the whole city, so a handful of brave bar owners have remained quietly open during the Koof siege, while others have been able to legally skirt the mandate by converting to a quasi-restaurant. One such success story is BarBar, the bdsm bar on Patpong Soi 2. Simply by offering a food menu, they’ve obtained permission to open, with the caveat that only a handful of punters at a time may be served, to abide by social distancing guidelines. Now, the whips and chains aren’t really my thing, but mongers gotta monger, so I fought back my fears of the unknown, blocked out my visions of Eyes Wide Shut parties, and swung by BarBar last week. To my relief, there weren’t any chicks tied to walls or being burned with candle wax. “The show starts later,” Miss May told me when I sheepishly peered through the front door. So I slipped in and grabbed a stool at the bar.

There were seven or so girls in the place, all very friendly, all in different cosplay outfits. There was a French maid, a sexy cop, a nurse, a couple of girls in black lingerie, and a leather-clad vixen that invoked memories of Trinity from The Matrix movies. I could see a couple of other customers lounging in dark corners, bookended by lovely hostesses. Was it the same as hitting a gogo bar full of dancing girls on poles? Nah. But in this Twilight Zone-like era, it’s better than nothing. I never knew how important it was to have a place where I could chill out with a bevy of babes and blow off steam. And for now, BarBar offers that, like a late Christmas gift.

And since I was already out, I decided to see if I could confirm the rumors that a nearby speakeasy was open for business. Walking around Silom is an eerie experience these days. What used to be a vibrant, bustling neighborhood full of tourists, traffic, and temptation is now a dark, dismal, deserted series of streets. The festive soundtrack of competing dance songs pumping from every door in Patpong is gone, replaced with an uneasy silence. And instead of barkers, mongers, and sexy girls, the sois are littered with sleeping stray cats.

After a few twists and turns through an unnervingly dark Bangkok, I found my way to a door. I knocked, and was welcomed into a dimly-lit room with party tunes playing and a group of ladies sat round a table. There were two other punters cajoling and laughing with the girls, who were all clad in normal street clothes. In the corner there was a bar, where I was blessedly able to order a beer. I grabbed a chair with the others, who were playing Jenga and snacking on crisps. A gal came and sat on my lap. We all chatted for a bit, and after a couple more beers, a girl I recognized from a local, currently-closed gogo bar smacked a deck of cards on the table. ‘Teach me how to play 21,” she said. I assumed she meant Blackjack, and so we spent a fun hour teaching, learning, and playing cards (without money, of course, that would be illegal). Towards closing time, the girls busted out a birthday cake for one of their cohorts, and we had a little party. Was it as fun as hitting up a loud, crowded gogo? Nope. But it was surprisingly enjoyable, and it beat sitting alone in my apartment by a country mile. It felt less like a bar and more like I’d crashed a private party at one of the girls’ houses.

At some point, the Thai government will come to their senses and reopen entertainment zones, and this nightmare will be nothing more than a memory. When that happens, I know I’ll recall these small reprieves in BarBar and the speakeasy as the only shining moments in a time of literal and figurative darkness.

If you’re lucky enough to find a place that’ll sell you a beer, count it as a blessing. And raise that glass to the courageous Thais who’re brave enough to provide it, along with an empty seat in a quiet room staffed by hotties with the common goal of putting a smile on your face. Keep smiling, everyone. Cheers.

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