Inside one of the most popular a go go bars in Pattaya
…………..I’m sitting here in probably the most popular a go go bar in Pattaya, that extreme city on the eastern seaboard of Thailand, sin and fun city, which, like others, doesn’t sleep and nestles itself into a polluted beachline, curving for maybe two miles or three. Ah, Pattaya, that paradise for ugly, old men like me! Yes, Pattaya, you are a twenty-four hourer like Las Vegas and others but there the similarity ends. You don’t even need to bet on my being right. Betting is illegal here.
I look up at the stage and the girls smile at me. They are wearing short, black skirts which ride up over their bums, leaving the bottom half bare. No underwear. If a thong is worn, well, there’s probably a period in progress. Their breasts are noticeable because their skimpy blouses are open. Thai girls have small breasts but here in this a go go in this soi, boy do the girls defy the mean. One lovely, dark-haired beauty smiles at me. Her name is Nok. Her pubes are pronounced, that is she really does have a mound of Venus. Pussy-shave is the order of the day. She pushes herself at me with a one-word interrogative, “Eat?” But soon I notice she is slanting her already-slanting eyes at my long-time friend Rosta. She likes his big, Greek nose, his cheeky smile. Will love bloom between Rosta and Nok? Probably not. Will lust bloom between them? Probably yes.
I turn back to the stage and its chrome poles and its dancers. There’s something going on. After all this time I still can’t understand what one angry girl is saying to another. The Thai language is impossible. But I know they’re drunk. It’s 9 o’clock. A fight breaks out and one girl slaps the other. She in turn grabs the other girl’s hair. There is more shouting. The mamasan has jumped up on the stage. Two Thai men who work outside the front door have already rushed in and the mamasan orders the men to carry the girls off. The men dutifully sling the girls over their shoulders and they are carted off and out into the hot night-air where dressing-gowns are thrown around them to cover their nakedness and where presumably they cool down, Thai style, if cool down is at all possible in 32-degree-celsius air. Inside, a discussion of sorts about the girls ensues, and then the dancing and the drinking start all over again. Sanuk, sanuk and more sanuk*.
Rosta has bought the lovely Nok a drink and is trying to engage her in pigeon-conversation – not an easy task what with the very loud music, the noise of the other punters and girls. And suddenly I start to laugh – they are playing it again, my favourite in any a go go bar in Pattaya. Yes, it’s Y.M.C.A. We are all young men going to have that good meal – in the YMCA? – with other young men? Not exactly. Another favourite is “It’s not about the money money money / We don’t need your money money money…../ And take the cash back…” massively inappropriate in any a go go, or, indeed, in any part of the world where the spectre of poverty rears its head. (Can it be that such a song was written on a full stomach?) Then, there’s “I want nobody nobody but you”. That’s great as well. So very, very, very out of place.
*Fun, fun and more fun.
From Chapter One of “Collected Selected Words” (adapted)