In lieu of a review: A requiem for a Den

The Den Bangkok doors closed

While I do my best to cover a wide variety of subjects and locations I am ultimately bound by the limits of my time and energy. Like the rest of you I am also subject to the realities of time and space at least right now and for the time being.

In the past I have written about things like the lost bars of Phnom Penh. I have also published reviews of places like Bongkot in Bangkok only to find out the venues under discussion were in fact closed. This is not a common occurrence but it has happened twice in the five years this website has been online.

I try to avoid writing about a place that is closed in most cases but it others it makes sense. The post on the lost bars of Phnom Penh was well received and is a good example of a post on the past that was informative and entertaining.

A few other bars have come and gone that probably deserve some coverage if for no other reason than to preserve the information for posterity. As far as I can tell there is no official history of the commercial sex scene around the world though there have been at least a few attempts by people to document the histories of places like Soi Cowboy and Patpong online.

While I am definitely not going to undertake the creation of an adult entertainment history archive right now I can tell you about two unique bars that once stood in Bangkok.

The Den was a sort of bordello style gentlemen’s club on Sukhumvit Soi 12 in Bangkok. Taking the place of the old White Lioness bar which was home to dancing European women The Den opened up a few years ago and quickly became a favorite among a lot of Bangkok regulars. I posted a review of The Den on this site in 2015.

The bar was very well designed and really stood out among the many bars in the country which have an unfortunate tendency to skimp on the surroundings. In a local scene where a lot of venues have filthy floors and awful sewage smells The Den had a plush interior that was kept absolutely spotless.

The large bar had a discreet entrance and a door man. Just inside there were some high quality pool tables. Beyond the billiards sat a big square bar with a huge shark tank suspended above it. To the left and the right there were several seating areas with big soft couches. As an added touch each seating area had silky soft drapes that could be pulled around for privacy.

Despite having an absolutely amazing interior for the area rates at The Den never got out of hand. Drinks for customers and ladies alike were priced quite reasonably. On top of that there was never any aggressive push for customers to spend money. Clients were made to feel welcome.

Several women worked at The Den including a set of twenty year old identical twins that seemed to set the Bangkok bar watchers on fire for a short while. Most of the women at The Den tended to be a bit more mature than ladies at a lot of other nearby bars but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The level of conversation was a bit higher probably because of that.

The staff of women in their twenties and thirties wore nice clothes but nothing they had on was too revealing. They were able to walk down the street in their clothes without drawing unwanted attention.

The focus at The Den never seemed to be on pushing customers out of the doors with women from the bar but there were rooms available for rent next door. A lot of the women working at the bar were up for joining customers in those rooms but only if they had established some kind of rapport beforehand. In that way it was similar to some of the hostess bars in Phnom Penh though truth be told none of those could hold a candle to The Den in terms of the bar itself.

Not long after The Den opened in the Lower Sukhumvit area another Den was launched in the infamous Patpong part of town. Located only steps away from naughty nightlife spots like Kangaroo Club the Patpong Den was just as nice as the original. I never got around to reviewing the second Den.

The Patpong Den looked almost exactly like the other Den across down though it seemed to be a bit larger. It also had a slightly larger staff that included more women in their early twenties. Some of the women on staff — which included a few honest to goodness semi-pros who spent their days at university or working in office buildings — could truly be described as absolute beauties. There were no rooms at the Patpong Den but customers who took women out of the bar were able to use the long standing short time hotels in the area.

All seemed to be going well for the original Den location until one day when a change in ownership was suddenly followed by a shuttering of the doors near the end of 2016. Rumor has it that the closure was due to the landlord asking for vastly increased rents when it was time to renew the lease.

Business over at the Patpong Den petered off too. The place was sold and the name was changed to Radio City though the lion’s head logo was left in place. The old Den business model was not kept in place however and Radio City fell off of the radar.

These sorts of things are not rare in Thailand and they have been pointed to by some as real limits on the abilities of new and exciting ideas to flourish. While this site does not make a practice out of commenting on such things it goes without saying that the loss of the Dens was deeply felt by a lot of regular customers who really liked what the two bars offered.

A new place calling itself The Den recently opened in Pattaya. From what I can tell it has the same look and feel as the two dens in Bangkok but I have not yet been able to visit the place. There was word that a third branch of The Den was set to open in Pattaya back when the other two were still in operation so it’s likely that finally came to fruition. If the new Den is anything like the original bars in the capital city it is sure to gain a lot of customers even in a place like Pattaya which already has so many options for guys looking for fun.

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