Wake Me Up Before You Go……Go Bar

As a seasoned gogo aficionado, I’m granting my buddy’s request to offer some advice to those readers who A—are planning to visit and want a head’s up before hitting the tarmac, or B—have already been gogoing and weren’t happy with the outcome. In summation for the latter, you did it wrong. But I’m here to help you with some tips for a better go at the gogo. So here goes… Believe it or not, some shlubs who come here manage to mess up a sure thing and leave the gogo without the girl they wanted. Some good advice for how to avoid that pitfall was provided by me in previous posts (see above), but here’s a quick, practical guide for the proper way to conduct yourself in the gogo, if you don’t already know-know. Just FYI, I’ve skipped a lot of stuff that could go into this post, because it turns out that if you cover everything, you end up with an article longer than “War and Peace.” So for better or worse, here’s what I’ve come up with:

First, know where you’re going. In Bangkok and in Pattaya, there are several different red light districts and they all offer something unique. You should decide what you’re looking for, research the different locations, and then choose accordingly. The other day I was enjoying a glass of Bordeaux and a cigar at The Steakhouse Co. on Soi 2 in Patpong. This was around 6:00 in the evening, before the gogos were open, and before most of the working girls had arrived. As I was lounging there, 3 young American dudes came sauntering up the soi, dressed in their best pastel shorts and flip-flops, looking keenly this way and that, clearly on the hunt for what Patpong is famous for….they looked like Snap, Crackle, and Pop from the Rice Crispies cereal box. They also looked like the chunks of flesh you throw in the water to attract sharks. These 3 squeaky clean chums clearly had no idea how out of place and easily marked they looked. I didn’t see them again that night. I assume they either got locked in to a ping pong show and blew all their cash or just kept walking right on past Pink Panther and on round to Lumphini. If you’re coming to Patpong, it’s better to look less-conspicuously like it’s your first time out of the house. It’s also important not to wear your “I’m about to lose my virginity” outfit. Dress down, blend in, and for God’s sake don’t be so eager.

Second, and speaking of, know when you’re going. Those three idiots got ready, got in a taxi, and got to Patpong a full 2 hours before anything opens and a good 4 hours before things start to get wild. I get that newbies are anxious to get started. The weeks waiting back home for their flight date must’ve been agonizing. The long, long, very long plane ride equally torturous. The lines at immigration, then waiting for a taxi at Suvarnabhumi, then checking in, unpacking, showering….it probably feels like you’ve waited a lifetime to finally get a taste of what Thailand has to offer. But no amount of your own personal enthusiasm will change the hours of operation in a gogo. So before you leave your cool, clean hotel room, Google where you want to go and make sure you don’t get there when everything’s still shut. You’ll look and feel like a prat. If it’s so important to start early, Google the bars in each RLD that open early. There are a few at each location. Or just go to Pattaya. Despite the junta’s crackdown of Soi 6, there are still a number of beer bars that open as early as 10:00 am in some areas, namely along the beach road and on Sois 7 and 8. But be warned: there will be very few pretty young things at these places.

Third, keep a low profile. “The Hangover 2” was a funny movie, but it wasn’t well-received in Thailand. Mainstream Thais thought it made the country look crass, and even the red-light workers disapproved of how their place of employment was portrayed. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you’re not a Thai gogo dancer, don’t get on stage. No one wants to see your dumb ugly ass up there, so while you’re having a great time, you’re ruining everyone else’s. If your plan is to find a girl to take back to your room for some naked Olympics, your best bet is to not create a spectacle of yourself. Prostitution is illegal in Thailand, so if your intent is to barfine someone, the less attention you draw, the better.

Fourth, be patient. Every gogo bar has at least 2 rosters of dancers and they trade off the stage every 15 to 20 minutes, so if you walk in and don’t see a girl you like….wait. I can’t count the times I’ve seen dudes who are clearly on a mission to find a girl peek in, survey the girls onstage for 5 seconds, and then bail to the next place. That’s really dumb. If you do that, just know there are between 10 and 20 girls who work there that you didn’t see because of your impatience. The flipside of that coin is, don’t immediately barfine the first girl you see. Chances are really good that you’ll find someone you like better one or two bars down the soi.  So the long and short of it, when it comes to patience, is don’t leave too soon and don’t choose too quickly.

Fifth, spend selectively. If you want to catch a fish, put bait on the hook. In the case of the gogo, the bait is a lady drink. It’ll be more expensive than your drink. Just accept it. Now, here’s where it gets tricky. Some girls are less interested in you than they are in getting a drink. This is because all the girls have a minimum amount of drinks that they must earn each night, otherwise they get a pay cut. But that doesn’t mean that every girl who asks you for a drink is only interested in the drink. They might well be interested in both you and the drink. How will you know if the girl’s really into you, or just wants the drink? It takes some intuition, and some common sense. If you don’t have either, you can still navigate these waters. Here’s what you do: If you see a girl onstage that you want to get your hands on, get her attention and pantomime drinking. She’ll know you want to buy her one. If she doesn’t immediately leave the stage, it’s because she has to finish her shift first. Find a server and point out the girl you want to buy a drink for. The bar staff will take care of it. When the girl sits down, be nice. Be friendly, be funny. Smile. If she likes you, she’ll drink slowly and ask you questions. If she doesn’t, she’ll down the whole drink in a flash and disappear. Give up and move on. If a girl you don’t like approaches and asks for a drink, say no. If your girl asks you to buy her friend a drink, say no. If your goal is to get a girl, drink your own personal drink slowly and save your money for lady drinks. When you find a girl who stays with you even after she’s finished her drink, you’ve probably found yourself a gal that’ll be barfined.

Sixth, be a gentleman. It’s true, you don’t have to. You can behave pretty badly, and most red-light girls will put up with it. But don’t. Be a decent human being, and treat everyone you encounter in the RLD with kindness and respect. Not only will it help counteract the bad reputation that farang already have, it’ll go a long way toward earning you good treatment. This translates to the bedroom. When you’ve found a girl you want to barfine, ask the mamasan the price of the barfine. Most places will offer a package deal that includes the price of a nearby short-time hotel room. If you’re going back to your room, make sure you pay only the barfine. In addition to that fine, you must also pay the girl for her time, so ask her how much she wants (in 2018 it’s typically 2000 for short-time—one hour—and double that for overnight). Give her that money after the deed is done. In the room, take a shower first, because Thailand is humid and your junk is funky. Next, use a condom. Do it to keep yourself safe, and also to keep the girl and her Thai boyfriend safe. Finally, don’t do anything to the girl that she hasn’t consented to. Don’t get rough, don’t push the envelope, and don’t dehumanize her. You can try crazier things the 2nd and 3rd times you see her, if you see her more than once.

Seventh, don’t argue. You’d be surprised how fast things can escalate if you get into an altercation in a red-light district. The two most common ways this can happen are cultural missteps and check-bin disputes. Be aware of what Thais find offensive and avoid them. I covered this in previous posts and you can find all kinds of articles on this topic elsewhere on the internet. Be aware also of how much you’re spending and what you’ve got in your wallet. Most high-profile places will not pad your bill because they can’t afford the negative press, but keep an eye on your bin anyway. Also, make sure you hit the ATM before you start partying, and don’t put yourself in a situation where you can’t cover the bill. If you find yourself in a situation where it’s too late—where you’ve already offended someone or you bill’s been padded—just pay, wai, and bail. Grousing about it with your friends later is better than ending your night in the hospital.

Check out my nightly Tweets from the red-light @BangkokSeven and a whole archive of photos on my Facebook page. Also donate at patreon.com/bangkokseven or Paypal: bangkokseven7@gmail.com