Bangkok: No tassels

Back to Earth with a bump… Or a dull thump… Either way, we’re back in Bangkok, Jo is back at work and our weekend in Pattaya is fading into the realms of drunken memory.

Very drunken memory actually… Have you ever decided to go out for a “quiet drink”… Y’know… Just going to the pub for “maybe a couple of drinks”… A couple of drinks that turns into a night of drunken madness? Well... We did that… It wasn’t planned, it just sort of happened… It’s all good of course, we had an excellent weekend, Jo didn’t lay down by the pool as much as she’d planned to, but she did relax and i’m convinced our weekend in Pattaya did her good… The downside of this is that when she goes back to work, she does hit the ground with a bump.

I try to explain the trade-off… Yes, the job that Jo has can be stressful… But that job and those stresses pay for all the great things that life here… And life IS great here.

It still bothers sometimes me when I sit here typing (oh such a hard life) and I start talking (talking? typing.. whatever) about “normal” life… To us it is now “normal” but I see that to other people reading this (people are still reading right?) that it isn’t normal... We have a life here that a year ago I could have only dreamed of… In fact, I did dream of it, every day while working in a dirty factory, i’d daydream about escaping, getting away from a job that I honestly believed i’d be doing until the day I died.

After other visits to places way from Bangkok Jo as historically just fallen back into the routine of a “normal” work week, this usually leads to her feeling down for a while… Before planning another trip to de-stress... Again! Which leads us into a strange circle of weekends away, work, weekends away… A cycle that I obviously have no problems with whatsoever… Oh, the joys of not actually working!

However, since coming back from Pattaya there has been a change in the routine… Instead of slipping back into the work cycle, Jo has gone out of her way to fill the week with fun things to do, the first of these is a night out to a burlesque night here in Bangkok!

Here in Bangkok or Pattaya or Phuket… Anywhere you find tourists basically, you’ll have no difficulty in finding a place full of semi-naked or totally naked girls… If you have a phobia of naked breasts then please stay away (you poor, poor souls)… So yeah, nudity is something that’s easy to find here… Classy nudity? That’s where burlesque comes in… Burlesque, Strippers for people that frown upon people who visit strippers.

Jo found a place that had a burlesque night, she’d let some of her friends here in Bangkok know that we were going and after a short time it became apparent we wouldn’t be going alone… Which wasn’t a problem… More the merrier… I’ve met some of her friends a few times now so my usual problem of me, sitting in the corner not saying a word, shouldn’t be an issue as I have previously broken the ice… Or they broke the ice… Somebody broke some ice… Ice has been broken… I messaged my Friend Simon (his wife would be coming to the burlesque night) if he’d be joining us, he’s busy working so it’s looking like i’ll be an honorary lady tonight on my first ever girls night out.

So on a miserable looking (yes miserable… It’s been lightly raining pretty much all day) Wednesday night, after work, we set out of our apartment to make our way to Maggie Choo’s and a night of burlesque… Burlesque Bangkok style… I wonder if ping pong balls will make an appearance?

Anyway, our night had begun… Sort of.

The traffic here in Bangkok is never good… But tonight it’s awful… Jo ordered a taxi using “Grab” basically Thai “Uber”… We’re told our taxi is 12 minutes away so we patiently wait… And wait… And wait… We left our apartment at 7 pm, at 7:45 a taxi finally turned up (not the one we ordered either, one the security staff here got for us) the taxi moves slowly through the streets of Bangkok, the doors to the club open at 8 pm and here we are crawling through the traffic... I hate being late for things… But the traffic and it’s lack of movement is going to make us arrive way after the doors open.

After what feels like an age, and after Jo has had messages from some of the other people coming tonight that they are already there, we arrive outside the club… Jo needs cash so we go to an ATM, possibly the scariest ATM i’ve ever used… I’ve had an ATM here in Bangkok pretty much shut down while I was using it, which scared me… This one was on a whole different level… Three ATM’s in a line, one of which is “Out of service” so I use the one next to it… I put my card in, type in my pin number (making sure I keep it covered), so far so good… I enter the amount of money that I want… And then things got scary.

A “normal” ATM will display a message that says “please take your money” then your cash will appear out of the little “mouth” of the ATM… You take your cash and walk away… Not this time i’m afraid…

After entering the amount I needed, the message “please take your money” appeared on the screen… The ATM made the noise of sorting out your money… But, no money came out of the ATMs “mouth”… Instead, a drawer opened in the lower part of the machine, my cash sat inside the drawer, being held in place by metal jaws… I carefully put my hand in the drawer to get my money, but the drawer closed around my hand… I pulled my hand back and the drawer re-opened… My money is there, taunting me… Daring me to reach in and take it… I take a deep breath and quickly put my hand in the drawer, I grab the money… The jaws hold onto my money just enough to freak me out, just enough to make me fear that this ATM is going to eat my hand… With one last pull, my money is in my hand… Victory is mine!

We enter the doors of the club and walk down some stairs into the interior of “Maggie Choo’s” it’s dimly lit, a fusion of jazz (yuk) and hip hop (yay) is playing in the background (jazz hop?) as we are shown to our table, I love the way the club looks, it had a very seductive air about it… Lot’s of dark corners, low lighting, a really cool bar area… We sit at our table, joining our friends, we order drinks just as the burlesque show begins.

The layout of the club is such that when the show starts you have to stand in order to see, this bothered me at first and I was moaning to Jo about how the place wasn’t set up for this type of event… The show began, it was set into four hourly shows… A little burlesque followed by time to drink and socialise… The first show began and struck me as a little “tame”, i’m not sure what I was expecting, but I think I expected more… There was no nudity… Not even partial nudity… A dance show with a hint of tease… The first show ended and we sat back down with our drinks, the girls are chatting as i’m working out how to describe this burlesque in a blog… Jo notices me smiling as the phrase “Burlesque… Stripping for folks who actually don’t like breasts” pops into my head… At some point we’re joined by the compère for the night, she’s chatting to Jo and explains why the show is “tame”…

It turns out the show we’re seeing isn’t the show we were supposed to see, the girls were going to be wearing less… Dancing topless with tassels (which is something i’ve always imagined burlesque to be) but due to some odd Thai law, the girls had to cover up, in fact, the compère told Jo that some of the girls were crying earlier after they found out they couldn’t do the show they’d planned to do… It’s so strange we’re in a town where you can watch a woman propel a ping pong ball out of her vagina in one club, you can’t watch a woman dance with covered nipples but an exposed breast in another… Thailand… The land of confusion.

More shows follow… One girl dances in underwear but with a white shirt covering her, she dances to a bluesy, jazzy version of “Never tear us apart”… I’m no expert on dance, but something about this performance speaks to me… It really tells a story of heartbreak… Maybe i’m not such a caveman after all? I realise that this venue is perfect for this type of event (yes folks.. Earlier I WAS WRONG!) this type of show/evening isn’t about sitting and watching, it’s about standing, socialising, experiencing… A group of people here are doing swing dancing, Jo joins in, the club has a very very friendly… erm... Bohemian? atmosphere... it’s all very strange, so different from every other place in Bangkok and i’m loving it.

As with all nights that involve drinking, I found myself in need of the toilet… I walk into the restroom and am immediately aware that as i’m walking in, someone is walking out... I move to the left, he moves with me… I move to the right, he moves with me… I move to the left, again he moves… I decide to stop this dance so I step back and motion with my hand for him to get past me… At this point, I realise there's a huge mirror in the toilet… I’ve been dancing with myself… “ That’s one for the blog” I think to myself.

Our night draws to a close, all too soon the final act is over, we have to leave, Jo has work in the morning… I don’t want to leave… I’m a little bit in love with this dark, jazz infested bohemian place… I’ve really enjoyed my first ever “girls night out”…Has this caveman finally been cultured? Who knows?

So… Until next time…

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Ade Cox

A working-class man from The Black Country, plucked from the factory and now living the best life in Bangkok