Thailand, a mysterious land filled with questions and intrigue for many westerners, especially Americans. My questions were, what is the nightlife like? What type of music do the DJs play? Are there really ladyboys everywhere? Those questions, and more, were burning in my brain, so there was only one way to find out... go there for two weeks! Click through to follow me through the exciting nightlife of Thailand.
After 3 planes, 2 boats, and over 27 hours in travel and layovers, I was ready to kiss the ground once I got to my final destination in Thailand. I went strait to Koh Tao, a small island north of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. Instead of hitting the bed and sleeping my time away, I hit the ground running It was time to enjoy what Thailand had in store for me. I went from Koh Tao, to Koh PhaNgan, to Koh Samui, to Phuket, to Koh Phi Phi, back to Phuket, then finally to Bangkok.
Koh Tao is small and is known for its diving scene, but it also has a small but consistent party scene almost year round. In the pic above you see a firedancer at the common beach party. Check out the videos of these firedancers below:
BEACH PARTIES, MUSIC, and BUCKETS
Listen to the music in these videos. Sound familiar? The music largely is the same music played at clubs in America. The beat keeps around 130 bpm providing rhythms to keek bodys pulsing and firedancers dancing all night long. These partys dont stop till way after the sun comes up. One of the most popular parties in the world is Koh PhaNgan's Full Moon Party. Its likely the worlds largest beach party, with beats pumping up and down the beach all night and morning long. They also celebrate the Black Moon and Half Moon with smaller (but still big) parties, and pretty much every other night of the week as well. So there are plenty of parties to attend on any given time.
All the beach parties have the live entertainment like the previously mentioned firedancers. You will also find simple party games like connect four, musical chairs, even large jump rope (sometimes the jumprope is in flames) to keep the party social and add a bit of different intrest to the party. These nuances make for a very fun atmosphere and really bring the party to life.
No matter if you are on the islands or in Bangkok, you can expect a similar musical experience, however each place is distinctly different on how the party feels. The music is, how they say, "same same". You will hear all the latest chart topping electro/dance songs. I heard Rihanna's "We Found Love" a bagillian times, but thats ok cause that song is amazing. Overall, the music is danceable and the DJs are smooth, but there is a lack of personal touch from DJ to DJ. No scratching, not juggling, very few remixes, and no one is trying to break a new musical style. The music is a bit stagnent and could use a real mix-master or two to liven the night scene up, especially for the loocals.
While walking down the beach you might want to stop and get yourself a "bucket". This bucket will make the night a bit more fun and as you become more intoxicated listening to the bumping music. Buckets are filled with a small bottle of whatever liquor and whatever mixer your little heart desires. They give you about 8 straws and the idea is get one and share it with all the party people out that night. The price is around 200 or 300 baht (or about 6 to 9 USD). When buying one, bargin the price down! They will go down, if not, there are 50 other bucket people right next to you. Its all the "same same, but different".
Bucket Seller: Jamie Fucking Rockstar
CLUBS, GOGO BARS, and REGULAR BARS
The clubs in the islands are interesting. Most are open on all sides possible and have either a traditional roof or just fancy tarp-like covers to protect against any rain. Its as if you are outside, but you clearly are inside the club. Once again, there are buckets for sale, and they are just as social. Mix drinks and beers are marked up to be a bit more expensive, but we are talking Thailand prices so the most you will pay for a drink is about 120 baht (about 4 USD) You cannot bring in outside drinks to most of these places, but you can however walk in the streets with an open container (works if you are on a budget).
Just like the beach parties, the music is all "same same". Again, the DJs are smooth but lack personal flare. Some clubs DJ music Videos, some just have big screens with TV playing, go figure. But all the clubs (and beach parties) are filled with plenty of available girls who want to dance, drink, and party! But finding one that is not working that night may be a bit more tricky. The going rate is 1000 Baht (about 30 USD) for a short term companionship and it could be more if she stays all night. Also, its not easy to tell if she is working or actually likes you. Often, the girl will proposition you right up front which takes the guess work out of the equation. But if you like her and you dont want to leave at that moment with her, she will move on and find a real customer. Its a bit off-putting.
Once you get to Phuket or Bangkok or even Pattaya, the clubs are mainly indoors. You can still hear the music bumping down the street the entire night, but you have to go inside. Usually there is more security at the doors in these places, which can be a good thing. Its not unheard of to get in a scuffle at one of these places, yes it happened to me, so its good no one was packing. Those interaction can happen at any club on the planet, I imagine. But dont be fooled, just because these clubs have a slightly different feel, the music and DJs are again, all "same same". The same songs all night in every club. The only point in club hopping is to find a different crowd of people, different girls or maybe a better light show.
Club Hollywood, Patong Beach, Phuket
While the clubs are largely the same, you can break your night up by going to the local gogo bar. The girls come in droves to work at these places. Gogo Bars can be indoors or outdoors. The indoor ones are more like strip clubs. The outdoor clubs have cheaper drinks and have girls on poles on every bar, of course dressed in skimpy clothing but keeping it all on. If you are so inclined, at any of these places you can bring home one of these girls by paying a bar fee, then paying the girl whatever price you agree on. Yes, prostitution is very common. You can take it or leave it, but thats how it is.
But lest not forget about the Ping-Pong shows. This is like an indoor Gogo Bar, or strip club, but the girls actually do special performances, like shooting ping-pong balls out of their whoohaas. The entrance is usually free, but the first drink is 500 baht (15 USD) and the following drinks are discounted to about 200 baht (6 USD) plus you will be buying a 200 baht drink for the girl they assign to you (she gets a kick back for every drink you buy). It is pricey, but you have to go at least once while you are there. For me, the girl was shooting darts from you-know-where, and popping balloons. They pulled me up on stage and had me hold the end of a balloon with my teeth with the balloon floating above my face. A few seconds later... and ... POP! The balloon burst and I was completely unharmed from that very dangerous twat-dart-gun. Pretty impressive! Unfortunately, they would not allow any pictures of that.
The bars are fundamentally different for many of the popular tourist areas in Thailand. Yes, you can sit there and enjoy a few drinks but not without being asked to play simple bar games with the girls working there. Its not just the bartender and you, there are also the girls that are sitting around the bar and the ones that call you into the bar. For the bar games, the common deal is if they beat you (at connect four or some dice game or whatever) then you have to buy them a drink (these girls also get kick backs from the bar). What if you win? Well, that depends on the bar, sometimes you can get a free drink, but most of the time the girl just gets frustrated and goes away. Thats a good thing if you just want to check your email and have a few beers. Just like these Gogo Bars, if you like the girl, you must pay the bar fee to take her away from the job.
Also, at the bars there are usually a few pool tables to play on. These can be a lot of fun. If the place is not crowded you can just hop on and play with your friends, usually for about 20 baht (about 75 cents), or you play the winner. Loser pays and winner stays, pretty typical for bar pool. But the twist is the Thai girls. Do not underestimate them at all, also do not make any serious bets on the game. They will run the table before you get a shot. There are many quality players, but even if you suck, you should still play. After all, its all in good fun.
Yes, they are real and yes, it can be hard to tell a ladyboy from the real thing. They are at the clubs, bars, on the streets, on the beach, wherever. Its not polite to ask if the girl is a ladyboy and it can cause more trouble than its worth. However, there are ways to tell if a convincing ladyboy is a man or a woman. From a distance she might look hot, but once you get closer you can usually tell. If not, most of the time, the voice is a dead giveaway, you will say to yourself "damn, either that chick been smoking since she was 10, or she is a dude!". Or maybe she has unusually large hands for a girl. Also, an important note, most real thai girls or "ladys" dont really get all that dressed up when they go out. They will wear skimpy shorts and a revealing tank-top, but the ladyboys go all-out! Im talking very high-heals, super nice/sexy dress, lots of makeup, the whole nine (some real girls do that too, so its tricky). Overall, if she is suspect and fits any of those criteria, she could be a man.
All that being said, the ladyboys provide a niche entertainment that cannot really bo found anywhere else in the world. Carve out some time, if you are in Thailand, and go see a Cabaret Show. The ladyboys lip sync, dress up, and perform the latest and greatest hits. Their dance routines are well rehearsed and actually pretty impressive. The shows are very fun and very funny, especially when they pull up guys from the audience,dress them like ladys, and make them dance. Its great! Check out the video below for the Cabaret Show in Koh Tao. Also, watch the video of Soi Crocodile in Phuket. Soi Crocodile is a street dedicated to all ladyboys. There is a huge crowd that gathers there everynight to see the spectacle. This Soi, or street, is right in the middle of the hottest strip along Bang-la road in Patong Beach, Phuket.
Soi Crocodile, Ladyboy Street show, Patong Beach, Phuket
Ladyboy Gaga - Telephone. Cabaret Show, Koh Tao
So, my opinion, go to Thailand! Dont expect much from the music scene, but do expect to have a f-ing awesome time! Go find some trouble and put yourself in situations that you would not normally put yourself in. Things are basically safe there, so have some fun. As far as DJing goes, go with low expectations and you will enjoy yourself.
DJ Color TV