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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bangkok Party Shutdown: Confusion as nightlife scene braces for difficult weeks ahead

Those for whom Bangkok’s nightlife is a livelihood as much as good times are preparing to scale back their offerings on order of the police, however few seem sure just what exactly that means.

Owners of nightlife venues such as bars and nightclubs and the organizers who fill them with events said today they are scrambling to understand just what is expected after being put on notice earlier this week that, for at least two weeks, all operations must cease at midnight.

“This really came as unexpected,” said Matteo Lanna of Elektro Delikatessen, which stages dance parties at a variety of venues. Lanna said some of his events may need to be canceled but, like everyone else, he was hoping to get further information.

Glow Nightclub owner Gert VanSteenbergen said authorities were enforcing midnight closures but that “nothing was clear at the moment.” Anders “Outsider” Svensson announced his party there tonight will end at midnight sharp.

Even venues on RCA, which is designated as a licensed “entertainment zone” and thus should be one of the few places which can legally remain open until 2am seem affected.

A staff member who answered the phone at Taksura said its RCA location had been asked by police to close by 1am for at least two weeks while its Ekkamai location will shutter by 12:30am. The owner of several venues across the river who was afraid to use his name said he understood those holding entertainment licenses would be allowed to stay open until 1am while everyone else must quit by midnight.

Owners and organizers complain that while they were either directly “notified” of the order or learned of it indirectly, there has been no official public announcement and nothing in writing apart from what went out at a meeting with Thonglor police on Tuesday and through informal police channels since then.

Dark Bar owner Nodnuanwan “Nod” Tatong said she would be closing at midnight on word from police. She wasn't told for how long.

DJ Superstar Panda said his “Thai Break” event this weekend at Ku De Ta would end at midnight, while a number of venues said they were taking a “wait and see” approach, likely hoping for a last-minute reprieve.

Ku De Ta and Grease both said they were aware of the order and were ready to comply but were still trying to confirm it.

“We MIGHT be able to open later than midnight but have to play by ear … each day,” a Grease staffer said. “We are trying our best to get people early however [by offering] happy hours buy-one-get-one free from 7-10pm.”

Even the capital’s red light districts, which seem reliably unaffected night in and out by whatever crises gripping the nation, were preparing to go dark.

Nana Plaza go-go bar Spellbound announced last night it had learned from police it and other venues would need to close early, though adding more confusion, they indicated a time of 1am.

“Furthermore, the general closing time for bars and clubs from Thursday, March 5, 2015, will be 1am until further notice. A duration of 2 weeks was mentioned,” it read. “This is bad news for all party animals.”

Bangkokians tend to have more fun after dark, but with those hours become increasingly shorter over the years, midnight closures have prompted appeals for revelers to start earlier.

Organizers Duck & Noodle moved their Saturday Boat Party up to 6pm with a midnight finish and appealed to their fans to arrive early.

Elsewhere the giant Maya EDM fest scheduled for Saturday night on army-owned grounds will end at 12:30am.

Some seemed to take it in stride as the cost of doing business in an unstable environment.

“Don't worry, we will be there for you. Just come a bit earlier!” pleaded girly bar Spellbound in its announcement. “The benefit for you is: you'll get more bedtime… The show will go on!”