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Up Your Soi

Soi Diamond

By A Fool in Paradise

 

Back in July 2003 I started writing the column Up Your Soi for a Pattaya newspaper and continued doing so until November 2009. The popular column basically involved strolling through the sois of Pattaya and commenting on anything of interest. Usually I reported on places I found of interest to me and so, without putting too fine a point on it, I concentrated on the bar and restaurant scene. Birds, booze and beef.

Now it is 2013 and the new Editor of the new Pattaya Trader has kindly asked me to resurrect the column for the amusement of readers. (A thousand blessings be upon his chrome dome.) However, the challenge was to tone down any bar reports to a respectable level and concentrate more on family values, temples, history, museums and places of cultural interest. I can do that.

So much has changed in Pattaya over the past decade that some sois would now be unrecognizable even to someone who was last there just four short years ago. The first decision I had to make was where to begin. Considering we are now in the middle of High Season, the logical place to start was that Mecca of foreign tourists, Walking Street. But not Walking Street itself. Instead I chose my favourite soi off Walking Street, Soi Diamond.

Soi Diamond runs through to Pattaya Second Road and if you cannot find something you like in here then you are just too hard to please. Within chipping distance of Walking Street, Go Go Bars such as (New) Star, The Sea, Naughty Girls, Super Girl, Carousel Club, Super Baby, Shark and Heaven Above have been around for quite a few years.

Between the Go Go Bars is a beer bar, B.J. 3 Bar, and no, ‘B.J.’ does not mean what you think it means. A Leo beer is priced at 85 baht but what I have found is that beer bar prices in Walking Street are outrageous. I cannot see the point of sitting at a beer bar and paying anywhere between 80 and 100 baht for a small bottle of beer when they charge 55 baht for a cold draft beer in an air conditioned Go Go Bar with some visual attractions thrown in. Just my personal opinion.

Further into Soi Diamond you will find Gentleman’s Club, Spanky’s and Diamond A Go Go opposite the Diamond Beach Hotel. Next, on the right, is The Windmill Club, a place I know very well. It is very interesting how The Windmill Club got its name.

In 1931, Laura Henderson opened the Windmill in the Soho district of London as a playhouse and variety theatre. It was unprofitable, until a new manager, Vivian van Damm, developed the idea of putting on shows with singers, dancers, showgirls and incorporating glamorous nude females on stage. They convinced the London censor that the display of nudity in theatres was not obscene. Since the authorities could not credibly hold nude statues to be morally objectionable, the theatre presented its nudes - the ‘Windmill Girls’ - in motionless poses as living statues. The ruling: “If you move, it’s rude.” The Windmill’s shows became a huge commercial success.

The theatre’s famous motto was “We Never Closed”, a reference to the fact that it remained open throughout the Second World War even at the height of the Blitz, apart from a compulsory closure for 12 days in 1939. The showgirls, cast members and crew moved to the safety of the theatre’s two underground floors during some of the worst air attacks from September 1940 to May 1941.

Henderson died in 1944, aged 82, and left the Windmill to Van Damm who ran the theatre until his death in 1960, aged 71. The Windmill officially closed in 1964.

In case the current London censor is reading this, I can assure her that in Pattaya’s Windmill Club, the 40 or so girls do not move either. They gyrate, wiggle, slither, slink, writhe, squirm and wriggle, but they certainly don’t move.

Next issue I will guide the connoisseur through the remainder of Soi Diamond; not because I want to, but because I owe it to the reading public. Such is life Up Your Soi.