Pattaya’s nightlife is rebounding but most gogos remain closed

Open-to-the-street bars in Soi Six are popular but must close at midnight.

Since June 1, the government’s Covid 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.”

Staff at bars and massage parlors in the gay Jomtien Complex await customers.

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.

Staff at this massage parlor near Walking Street say business improves month by month.