Hopes that Covid-19 hasn’t temporarily crucified Pattaya’s entertainment industry were dashed on the evening of July 1 when the stormy heavens opened and created a deathly silence below. The date had been eagerly awaited after the Thai government allowed bars and clubs to throw off their padlocks, subject to a mere 22 health and safety regulations. And a 12 midnight closing time for all.
Of course, it’s a premature burial. But, even without the heavy rain, it was obvious that around 80 percent of nitery joints had decided to wait until the tourists returned or until the 22 rules became a manageable handful. The celebrated and heterosexually-inclined Walking Street was virtually deserted apart from occasional journalists in plastic macs taking photos of the gloom and doom. Nobody had even turned on the huge street sign over the entrance archway. A security guard told me that very few drinking places had even phoned the liquor suppliers to stock up. An insightful guy that one.
There were a couple of go-go bars open and a lady in high-heel boots could be observed doing monotonous twirls around a chrome pole in an upstairs window. I did notice a club with an unusual name Showery Except Sunday, but it turned out that some of the neon letters had gone missing and the sign actually said, “Show Every Night Except Sunday”. Nearby was a drinking bar which appeared to have five customers consuming the delectable amber fluid. However, the farang manager confided to me that they were his booze-sodden relatives from UK who were taking advantage of the immigration bureau’s visa amnesty until the end of the month.
Trekking through the pouring rain along deserted and unlit streets, reminiscent of Manchester during the Nazi bombing campaign, I chanced upon the homosexually-inclined Boyztown. Most of the bars and clubs were firmly shuttered but one was offering drinks on the terrace to a lone ranger in a trilby hat whilst a couple of male gogo clubs nearby were technically not closed. The doors were wide open but not a soul in sight apart from a middle-aged man trying to lift a dumbbell. A motorbike taxi driver asked me if I wanted to buy a prohibited substance and, when I said no thank you, murmured that I must be a policeman.
No beating about the bush, Pattaya will see better days again. Sadly, not for now.