Jupiter to Move
For several years there has been a string of complaints from gay tourists and residents about falling standards and rising prices in the famous Soi Pratuchai (usually called Soi Twilight), home to the original sleaze go-go bar that started business at the end of that soi at the top of Suriwong Road). Some seven go-go bars presently operate here along with a slew of open-air beer bars and massage spas.
According to a post in one of the Thailand gay chat rooms, the German owner of two of the bars, including the ever-popular Dream Boy, had a meeting with his staff last week. He announced that he would be closing his bars within two years. He is getting on in years and no longer needs to make money from the bars. Once these bars disappear, the belief is that the character of the soi will totally change and lead to the end of go-go bars in that area.
Four factors have contributed to Soi Twilight’s problems. First the rapidly changing ways guys meet guys. The apps have taken over and it is much easier now to meet a Thai money boy on-line. Why spend a hour or more in a smoky bar, spend US$25 on drinks for yourself and the boy of your choice, another $15 for the bar’s off fee, perhaps $15 for a short time room and then $50 or so as the tip to the boy?
Second, the failure of the other owners to adapt. Old-timers talk lovingly of the old Barbiery go-go bar just across Suriwong which in the late 1980s and 1990s was packed at the week-ends with up to 100 boys and a full house of customers with many standing at the doorway – a mix of some westerners but more Thais. Now Thais are rarely seen in Soi Twilight go-go bars.
Thirdly, though, economic and social conditions in Thailand have changed dramatically since the start of the first bars opened in the 1970s. Whilst there will always be economically disadvantaged young guys seeking work in a sex industry, this is now much less so than before. Also the government has been making it very clear since 2001 that it does not approve of Thailand’s reputation as a sex tourism destination.
Lastly, the older westerners who always made up the bulk of the clientele are disappearing fast. Now it is younger Chinese and other Asians who visit. But their aim is not to take a cute guy off for a good time. They go for one drink, see the show and depart. Bar owners have seen off fees shrink and so drinks prices have shot up to make up the difference. US$12 for a 50 ml bottle of water?? Excuse me! The business model which worked so well for about 25 years may finally be collapsing.
The news is not all bad, though. The owner of the also popular Jupiter go-go bar has announced he will close in the present location and move over to Silom Soi 4 where Telephone and Balcony Bars are situated. As Soi Twilight has been in decline, Soi 4 has been thriving. This new addition may make for even more visitors to the soi.
Even better, Jupiter’s landlord wants to take back the property to try his hand at running a go-go bar. So maybe there will be two Jupiters in due course, although the present Jupiter is usually packed with Asian rather than western tourists.
And for those who remain interested in sleazy type go-go – i.e. a few boys on a dimly it stage who do nothing other than stare into their phones and hope you might still fancy one to get him a drink – there is still a cluster of bars close to where the muscle bar Tawan is located.
AGN Gay News and Updates