Let’s Toast to Everything

Simply utter the phrase “I was in Patpong last night” and you will receive a variety of reactions: a wistful smile from wicked Uncle Ted, a raised eyebrow from your mother, and a swoon from the local pastor.  Yes, Patpong’s red-light reputation precedes it, but what most people don’t know, filthy minded as they are, is that Patpong isn’t just ping pong balls and ladyboys. The neighbourhood also has a vibrant and respectable bar scene that our intrepid bartrippers Daniel and Stuart have chosen to explore this month on your behalf.

The Barbican has glazed walls.

9:04pm, The Barbican, Soi Thaniya
There’s no better place to start out a night out on the tiles than The Barbican.  Situated in the very throbbing heart of Soi Thaniya, otherwise known as ‘Little Ginza’, otherwise known as the Japanese Patpong.  Being of British stock, I was, of course, roundly ignored by both purveyor and pervert.  Just the way I like it.  In celebration of our British heritage, Stu and I ordered pints of Tiger inside, while chatting with amicable night manager, Nat.

Stu: Not quite a bar not quite a pub, but with the impressive drinks selection I knew we had started the night off on the right foot.  The place reminds me of a Kingston pub, minus the spit and sawdust and the smell of piss.  A heady mix of dark wood floors, polished surfaces – flashy, yet homely.  Any bar where you need a ladder to get to the top shelf is certainly worthy of a repeat visit.  Being an experienced man with spirits, I couldn’t help but wonder about the odd green and orange contraption with a bottle of Jagermeister jammed into the top of it.  Luckily manager Nat was on hand to provide a demonstration in the form of two shots of the Germanic spirit floating in Redbull, which blasted us into the night.

11:35pm, Matador, Patpong Soi 2
A true hole-in-the-wall by all accounts, I immediately liked this bar.  Tiny, nondescript, upstairs, and away from the throng on Patpong.  As the only Farangs in the place, Dan and I were delighted to be greeted warmly and with house drinks.  With drink and conversation flowing, it wasn’t long before we were the centre of attention.

Dan: I had planned to take Stu to that cockpit of the secret war and centre of all things espionage and beer-gutted, the Madrid, but got confused and ended up in the Matador.  But providence sometimes moves in mysterious ways and I was convinced that this was a night to run with the bulls.  As you can probably tell, gentle reader, I’m a fan of Hemingway and feel there is no finer day than an afternoon at the arena, pissed out of my brain, chomping cigars and contemplating the ritual slaughter of bulls.  The only difference here was that it was night and we were the ones getting slaughtered on Redbull and vodka.  The manager Yui, suggested Stu and I serenade the crowd at the Karaoke machine, and, being too intoxicated to say no, we grabbed the bull by the horns.  My two usual numbers of choice, Born to be Wild and White Wedding were sadly absent so it was left to us to channel the spirit of Lennon and butcher Yellow Submarine.

1:20am, Lucifer’s, Patpong Soi 1
Oh Lucifer, you tarty tease.  How is it I find myself stumbling up your stairs when the light is dim and the brain is clouded?  The place was packed, as usual, and I was surprised to see a Japanese DJ spinning since, a few years ago the group had stopped doing shows, a cost-cutting measure due to the social-order campaign.  Happily, social disorder seems to be slowly returning.  I must admit that my own memories of this point of the night are hazy, so I leave it to Stu to give a fuller account.

Stu: After my first time visiting the devil’s lair I left a changed man.  This is a place of hellish proportions.  A cavernous interior spanning two floors, faux stalactites falling from the ceiling, smoke and strobes aplenty and a debauched atmosphere to match my mood.  This is a full-on club with banging tunes, just the place to turn your angel into the devil’s daughter before you take her home.  I will be back.

2:10am, Funky Dojo, Patpong 1
: As always on nights like these, you bump into people you know, and when you bump into friends in Patpong there’s a lot of shoe staring and ‘Well what are you doing here?’ going on.  This time was no different when I spied a former employee and comrade in arms from the local publishing industry.  After Dan had turned into a slobbering manic and demolished the gargoyle’s share of the evening’s kitty my only resource was to beg  – “err excuse me mate, couldn’t buy us a beer could ya?”  Which was greeted with surprising generosity until Dan tried to muscle in on my patron’s benevolence.

Dan: By now all hope of an early night in front of the telly was lost and the only thing for it was to find the last place in soi sin still passing beer over the bar.  I’ve been to this place before, surprise surprise, and must admit that this club/bar leaves me a little cold.  This music isn’t all that, everyone is hammered beyond belief but the open-air design does give a good view of the forklifts packing up the market and the drunkards dodging them.  They say the freaks come out at night and I count myself among their number, but Patpong after closing time is a sight not to be believed.  Who ever knew that cosmetic surgery could make a man look very convincingly like a woman?  Luckily I did and did not fall into their muscley grip.  By now Stu had deserted me for destinations unknown and it was also time for me to rest my head in preparation for tomorrow afternoon’s hangover.  There are those who say that amateur anthropologists seeking to broaden their horizons in the world’s red-light districts, like myself, are but wolves in sheep’s clothing and simply looking for more lust for their buck.  But I feel that tonight’s tour shows that a fine night out with friends can be had without doing anything you can’t tell your mum about.  And besides, my sheepskin has gone mouldy and doesn’t fit anymore.

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