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A Need for Face Control in Bangkok

When we started KohSpot last year, our simple goal was to create a website geared towards the swiftly changing expat demographic in Bangkok. A silhouette transforming from old, pot-bellied, toupee donning sex-pat, to young(er) professional riding the coattails of a blossoming, modernizing Southeast Asian business metropolis, looking for all the decadence of Bangkok minus the sleaze.

There were some things we expected – being on the VIP list of every Bangkok bar opening; restaurant premieres; photo shoots at red-carpet events; calls from top Thai politicians seeking guidance for political malfeasance; nation building.

And there were some things we didn’t expect – the ability to completely bash a place due to something utterly insignificant in the name of subjectivity along with having the complete luxury of hearing each and every day from KohSpot readers on their thoughts and perceptions of the dear city of Bangkok. We know many farang that want to think of Bangkok as their own tropical oasis, void of all others and carrying a nasty sense of entitlement to the city. But like it or not, we are all in this wormhole together, exploring and enjoying it as a community. Thank you always, faithful readers, for being part of our community and teaching us new things about Bangkok. You keep us going.

And while some of your comments and email are incoherent, non-sensical, or coming from men in countries we can’t pronounce seeking our advice on where they can find a wife in Thailand, every now and then, we receive an absolute email gem. A gem that instantaneously slaps us with a corneal abrasion due to the eye-rocking ideas being proposed and delivered in most comedic form.

One of these gems recently came from an Australian expat that has been so kind to let us publish his thoughts in these very pages. His name is Sam Dunlap – a KohSpot hero in his own right.

Without further ado…his call to arms.

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Criteria Clubbing
by: Sam Dunlap

Bangkok’s after-hour scene is currently soul-destroying and just…unacceptable. Every one of the recovery clubs I’ve checked out seem to be completely populated by unattractive (and that is really putting it diplomatically) working girls (and their expected clientèle). I don’t have a problem with girls who ‘freelance’ or even amateurs who go to a club knowing if they pick up, they might pick up some baht. If I’m being honest, my laziness is getting to the point where I might even have leanings / preferences in that direction.

But I do have a pretty huge problem with the 99:1 ratio which is the current rule in almost every after-hour cringe factory in Bangkok. Working on the assumption that every single after-hours club is basically like the ones I’ve been to, they’re all just chock-full of horrid (even heinous), disturbingly-aggressive, outright rude and mood-ruining, bitter, seasoned ‘pros’. It’s horrible.

As far as I can tell, they’re all more or less the same. Way too many ugly girls packed into a disgusting, sweaty warehouse. They invariably cannot dance to save themselves, their eyes bore into you for illogical periods of time, even for hours despite their not receiving a possible return signal. If by miracle, there was anything remotely attractive, the poor things are simply smothered underneath the volume of ‘experienced’ (even old), unfit, super-aggressive hags who simply surprise me with their ability to generate a living selling a product I wouldn’t have thought there would be the slightest demand for. I don’t mean to sound cold, but if I thought I could play college or pro ball coming in < 6 ft, I reckon I’d be less ambitious than some of these girls trying to make a fist of things in Bangkok’s after-hours clubs.

Bangkok has so many cute girls, and I’m not sure if I’m being completely naive when I cling onto the belief that the after-hours scene doesn’t need to be exclusively, or even dominated by, these grotty old ‘professionals’. Surely there are cute girls who aren’t working, or not working full-time or exclusively, or just loose but cute, who are keen to kick on after 2am? Either I’m victim to some very unfair joke, or Bangkok doesn’t have any such girls who are out after 2 am. Something is seriously wrong here. I’m worried that any such girls might simply have no where they can reasonably be expected to go. If I’m horrified to go into one of these filthy places (and I am), I can’t imagine how revolting it must be for them.

Surely there is an overwhelming demand for some long-overdue door policies. I’m not talking Nazi Studio 54 silliness, just a little bit of discerning, at the door? As y’all would surely be aware, in Europe they have “Face Control” which is a terrible name for a very respectable and understandable entry policy. In Australia, most non-ghetto clubs have pretty strict door rules now as well (which amount to Face Control, Dress Control, Hair Control, Connections Control, Level of Sobriety Control etc). I don’t want to party in a club which excludes so ridiculously. But if there is a modicum of standards exerted at the door, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s hard to phrase politely, but basically the formula for entry something like:

  • rich girls – sure.
  • poor cute girls – of course.
  • poor ugly girls – sorry ladies, not tonight
  • rich guys – of course.
  • poor cute guys – maybe, dependent on variables, cut of jib etc
  • poor rough guys – jog on, lads

In fact, I’m struggling to come up with a better name for “Face control” as it makes me cringe every time. An ironic struggle, I’m not sure I could think of a worse name for “Face control” either. “Selective Entry”? “Targeted entrants”?  ”Criteria Clubbing”…wow, that’s terrible. Seems I could actually come up with a worse name for it.

Whatever you call it, the inside result is, invariably, a healthy mixture of wealthy guys and far-less-wealthy but very cute girls. How do they work out whether the guys seeking entry are rich v poor? Ridiculous cover charge. I don’t particularly wish to be thrown in with cheap guys, I have no problem with paying for their exclusion. Girls are never cover charged, of course. They should really be induced with substantial complimentary drinks and whatnot, if they make the grade at the door. I know Bangkok’s Model Nights are hilarious fails, I think I remember chuckling at your destroying the farcical crowd at Koi. But the concept itself isn’t horribly flawed, it’s merely the application of the “model’s night” as some sort of elitist night for people who are attracted by – free food and drink, lol…idiots. The elitist concept is a fail. No one wants pretentious failed models sipping and staring and dreaming of a daddy to pluck them out of their miserable existence. Not unless they’re going to have some fun, coyote dance the bar or something, heck an occasional smile would be a start. My “face control” after-hours club wouldn’t be pretentious or austere or even dignified; I merely wish to escape the horrors that capsize any chance I have of ‘fun’ after 2 am as the current situation stands.

And surely I cannot be in some minority here; I cannot accept that there isn’t a huge group of similarly-inclined (or disinclined) degenerates who believe that after 2 am, the gutter performing as the ceiling, is somehow an acceptable clubbing situation for a city the size of Bangkok. This is madness, surely. Is it unreasonable to expect a city the size of Bangkok have at least one ‘nice’, maybe even borderline ‘classy’ after-hours club? Just somewhere which doesn’t give one the sinking feeling they’ve acquired some STDs purely by walking through the door to be blasted by filth?

It’s so infuriating. I almost never get out before midnight. And due to the deluge of horrors at these after-hour clubs, I hardly feel like leaving my condo at all. I don’t want to sift through a haystack of shiver-inducing 30 and 40 year old pros and seedy old men and moronic wasted drunken Poms gyrating on stage with their shirts off…just to have a remote, outside chance of miraculously seeing a single semi-cute girl. That’s really all that’s missing from the equation; that, and some décor and routine cleaning. Shock39 and Swing are cesspools, but their dirty house is hard to criticise…it’s even spectacular, at times (with all due respect to your stunning inability to recognise the amazing that is [the better kind of electronic music / techno]).

I know there are cute girls out in Bangkok after 2am. There should be a lot more, I’m certain they just don’t have anywhere suitable to go. The ones that are out are miserly scattered about, and this simply will not do. I’m lazy and I don’t like inefficiencies. Or travel. They should all be centralised in far more comfortable surroundings, and mixed in with a healthy ratio of non-freelance types. This way, I can convince myself I’m not talking to a freelancer, until it’s too late too care. The perfect delusion solution.

I hope you agree with my (potentially incoherent) ranting against the creepy sleaze-filled clubs which comprise the sum total of clubs open during the best hours of the 24 currently available. I beg you to correct me if I have simply misjudged the current after-hours scene, and the cruel joke is on me.

If I have not, or it is not, I implore you to lead the crusade demanding the end to this unacceptable and outrageous injustice. It must be rectified, mourned for an appropriate period of time, then forgotten for ever. The healing process must begin as soon as is feasibly possible. Tonight…would be ideal. But tomorrow will also do, I suppose.

- Sam Dunlap

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