Recently there has been a rash of comments posted from first time visitors to Bangkok Gay Gogo Bars on Soi Twilight, newbies sharing the experience of their inaugural visit to everybody’s favorite street in Bangkok. Some have reported great success, others, not so much. What they all do share is a sense of that initial thrill of walking onto a soi filled with establishments offering a never-ending selection of naked male flesh, all available to ogle for the price of a drink, all available to be your companion for the night for a wad of colorful cash. It’s an exciting, heady world that just doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world and most first time visitors respond as the proverbial child in a candy store. No surprise there; with that much eye candy all in one place it’s more surprising that the gay guys of the world don’t all decide to make Bangkok their home.
I enjoy reading those tales. They stir memories of my initial foray into Bangkok’s gogo bar world, even if in those days Twilight was the only bar on that soi. Back then you had to hunt the bars down; they were spread out in and around Patpong and its environs. There was no single street filled with neon promising boys, boys, boys. But the excitement was the same, all of my senses still came alive, the knowledge that as soon as I walked through the door a vast bevy of partially naked men would be on display – and available for the price of a song – was just as exciting. I’d like to tell you that first timer tales are the only way I can experience that feeling of wonderment now, that they are a vicarious reminder of just how exciting your first time can be – and they are – but even today when walking onto the soi seems more like coming home again, that first night of every trip still thrills, my heartbeat still ratchets up a notch, the possibilities still enthrall and entice, and I still bask in the less than salubrious promise all that neon flashes.
My first night in Bangkok is still filled with the wonder those who have never been there before experience. Giddy with expectations, the life of the soi still infuses every molecule in my body, my pulse still attunes itself to the disco beat of decade old melodies wafting out of partially open doorways, the outstretched, more than welcoming hands that briefly impede my progress down the soi still seem to beckon with a promise of pleasure more than commerce, the beaming smiles that pop up everywhere still seem to welcome rather than be the atavistic response to the sight of fresh meat that they are. The only difference is that unlike a newbie, I know which bars have the kind of guys I like, which provide the most comfortable atmosphere for me, and which I can enjoy without becoming fodder for aggressive mamasans. I know how to make my way down the soi without being mauled by the barkers, there is no question in my mind about the procedures involved in selecting and/or offing a guy, or for that matter even in ordering a drink.
For the true newbie it’s like being Alice in Wonderland just after dropping through the rabbit’s hole; the sudden babble of foreign tongues, strange lighting, and an overarching promise of sex creating a frisson of excitement tinged with a sense of danger. As soon as you step onto the soi, you are out of your comfort zone. The sights, the sounds, the underlying purpose for Soi Twilight’s existence both captivates and cautions; your senses tingle in both anticipation and in warning. There is equal reason to be nervous and beguiled. It’s the unknown that causes unease, the known that whispers a siren’s song too mesmerizing to escape.
The massive, lipidic farang of advanced years who fill the chairs spilling onto the soi in front of Dick’s glower sullen streaks of curdled sunlight, an intimation of the affluenza infecting their souls garnered through far too many years of visiting the soi; their familiarity doesn’t breed contempt so much as it does disdain and an outrage over things no longer being as they once were. Posiden, for some unfathomable reason other than a testament to someone’s lack of good taste, squats in competition for space with the old German bar owner whose hound-dog face, as wrinkled as yesterday’s shirt, scowls at the world while he berates his staff of barkers for not being more welcoming to those who attempt to pass by. The dipsomaniacal are as well represented as febrile newbies, the former in favor of a hazy existence ignore the soi’s enticements, the latter try to drink it all in. And those who make their living off of both, smile in anticipation of the baht the evening will bring.
Soi Twilight is a confusing world of contrasts for the first time visitor. Even well-armed thanks to reading my previous posts in this series (with both a thanks for your attention and self-congratulatory pat on the back) finding the particular brand of fulfillment you’re looking for can be a daunting task. You can throw caution to the wind and trust in the fates, or carefully conceive a finite plan of attack in advance. Neither option insures success; Bangkok, because that is what it does best, will always fuck with you. That makes providing advice for a newbie as daunting of a task. I’m often asked which is the best bar on the soi. And I can’t tell you. I can tell you which usually has the kind of guys I like, or which usually has not employed a mamasan who is more concerned with the size of your wallet than in seeing that you have an enjoyable time. But your tastes may be different than mine. And while the established bars may not change much, their personnel does and that alone can mean what once was the hottest bar no longer is.
I can tell you that if you are into twinks Classic Boys is probably your best bet. But then occasionally management tries to add a bit of testosterone before sinking back into its world of fem so you may do just as well elsewhere. I can tell you that for several years now Dream Boy has been the most popular bar on the soi, but it is not a favorite of mine. Dream Boy usually has a large stable of guys, offering something for everyone. But as many times as I’ve visited that bar – all in the name of research of course – I’ve only offed a guy from Dream Boy once. And that was thanks to a ‘next time’ promise I’d made when he worked at a neighboring bar. I can tell you I prefer X-Size over X-Boys, but I think that has more to do with location than anything else. And I can tell you I have only been in Fresh Boys once; the layout of that small bar makes me feel like I’m the one standing naked on stage. But that may be just the thing you are looking for. I can tell you I still favor the bars with shows over the beer bars that have sprung up all along the soi, but that could be the very reason you’d enjoy spending your time at one of the beer bars instead. And although it is no secret that you should head down to Tawan if you are into muscles, or across the street to Jupiter if you are into the male model look, you can find both types of guys on Soi Twilight too. Okay, so maybe not at Classic Boys . . .
I can tell you if money is a bigger concern than your orgasm is, the sleaze bars around Tawan is where you should go. Although Sunee Plaza in Pattaya is probably an even better bet. And while I can’t tell you which bar has the best show, I can tell you if its barker is promising, “Show Now!” it will be at least an hour before the show starts. I can also tell you that despite their sign that says differently, if you relied on the guidance of a tout, Dream Boy will pay him for delivering you to their door just like every other bar on the soi. Oh, and ignore all those warnings you’ve heard about ‘upstairs’ bars ripping you off. Those on Soi Twilight are no more likely to pad your check-bin or overcharge for your drinks than their neighbors at street level are.
I’d like to tell you as a first time visitor your best bet is to head for Dick’s or Maxis, grab a seat outside and get comfortable with the action on the soi before braving it yourself. But then I know with the scent of dick in the air, y’all will make a beeline for the first gogo bar you see. I’d like to tell you not to off a guy at the very first bar you visit, that you should instead split the baby in half – or since this is Thailand go with Siamese twins and quadruple your fun – that you should visit a few bars before making your move, but I know most of you will not be able to resist the first bar boy who smiles at you. And I’d like to tell you that no matter how insistent the first barker to grab a hold of you is, ignore him. But I know since you want to get inside a bar, that someone pulled you in won’t make a bit of difference.
Finally, I’d like to tell you to indulge freely in all that Soi Twilight has to offer, but keep your indulgence in spirits to a minimum. But then in retrospect, if you get so drunk you can’t remember your night on the soi, you’ll get to experience your first time visiting Bangkok’s world of gay gogo bars all over again. And that ain’t necessarily a bad thing.
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