Nobody likes to be told to go home, especially not when you’re out with friends sipping on cold beers to a backdrop of young, pretty Thai girls (and ladyboys) dancing in skimpy uniforms.
Getting started in the afternoon.
Though Bangkok’s Nana Plaza (aka the center of the gogo universe), now opens around midday, things really don’t get going until well into the evening. While you might find an attractive happy hour running during the afternoon it’s attractive in price only. The afternoon buzz just doesn’t exist within the aging walls of this adult institute. Only a small selection of ground floor bars open early and are staffed by a handful of girls, with the general afternoon atmosphere being dictate by the male workers dragging in bar stock and generally loitering with little intent, in the way only certain Thais can do. It isn’t until around 8pm when a significant number gogo dancers and customers begin to trickle in and the neon lights start to flicker in to action.
When it’s over, it’s over (or not?)
It generally takes until around 10pm for Nana Plaza to fully kick into gear, sometimes as late as 11pm, even midnight during slower evenings. By the early hours the area is awash with neon naughtiness, flashes of flesh are all around you, and the beers and local spirits are flowing like water. By 1am this is a gogo-fanatics paradise, one that few enthusiasts could design better themselves. However, by 2am it’s all over. The music goes mute, sexy mood lighting is switched to the stark bare-bulb reality of drunken holiday-makers and dirty bar floors. You’re immediately asked to pay your bill and told to exit stage right.
This is by no means ideal, you’ll often hear a few groans and see more than on disappointed foreign face. However, while Nana may look impressive when in full flow, it’s at closing time when scenes become a vision of vivacity.
With all the bars closing at 2am, dancers, staff, and half-cut customers all pour out from the plaza at the same time. Not only this, but such is the significance of the number of young girls and wallet wielding foreigners that it also attracts a large number of locals ‘looking for love’, experienced expats, and in-the-know tourist, who all arrive to enjoy the somewhat seductive scenes that unfold during closing time at Nana Plaza.
Not going home just yet.
The beauty of it is that the vast majority don’t want to go home just yet. Most males have got a nice beer buzz going and aren’t quite ready to quite their ogling for the evening, while those of a feminine figure still have hopes of bagging a date for the night, with many equally as intoxicated. What results is a mini carnival of the weird and wonderful, and to some, a people watchers dream come true. To add to the insanity, a wave of opportunist tuk tuk drivers are added to the lineup of food carts and street hawkers already firmly in place. You could liken the scenes that unfold to a huge outdoor club, where music is replaced by drunken chatter and the constant buzz of Bangkok traffic, and dance moves substituted for animated flirting and the weaving of those trying to negotiate their way through the chaotic crowds.
The perfect perch.
For some Nana closing time is best experienced as an observer, and this is very much possible if you manage to grab a seat at one of the nearby bars on Soi 4. Lucky Luke’s and Big Dogs are an ideal spot to see the first wave of Nana-ites, though they both start to shuffle customers out soon after 2am. Alternatively, some of the nearby bars on the Soi will allow punters to sit longer, some even supplying under-the-bar drinks, with Golden bar, almost directly opposite the Nana entrance, being the pros position of choice. If you are thinking of saddling up to watch the action you may have to get in early as you won’t be the only one. The street side seating at bars such as Golden and Big Dogs are prime real-estate for those looking to soak up the Nana atmosphere, and such positions can be taken for most of the night.
Another option is to just take a few steps back. Walk across to the Nana Hotel car park and slink back away from mess, but be prepared to be approached by several ladies (boys) of the night.
They think it’s all over..
By 2.20am the crowds will have thinned out, and while some will loiter on for hours to come, by now the real action has filtered down on to Sukhumvit Road. By 3am the gogos may be shut all across Bangkok but their spirit still goes on. Here, along Sukhumvit Road you’ll find a mass of alco-carts and curb-side bars lining the streets from Soi 3 stretching almost as far as Soi 15, and beyond towards Soi Cowboy. Bar dwellers, booze sellers, and plenty of young local lasses (and lads), all continuing the party until the Sun rears its head.