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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Boyztown in Pattaya shakes off ghost town image


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Boyztown revival has been going on since the new year. After about two years of darkness and despair, Boyztown is making a serious effort to get back on the gay tourist map in this coastal town. The bright lights are back, the street is carpeted like a pedestrian zone and the new glitzy bar Pikky’s is the talk of the town. 

With nightclubs still banned under the Thai government’s military-backed Covid restrictions, several cafes and pubs have rebranded themselves as restaurants, while street theatre – featuring drag performers and powerhouses – kicks off at 9 pm sharp.

No one is arguing that the Boyztown revival is a replica of the gay 1990s when the street was packed every night.

In 2022, Pattaya will struggle with a lack of international tourists, while the ageing ex-pat population of mainly European retirees shrinks due to old age and many who sought their ‘salvation’ elsewhere.

Nevertheless, there is a trickle of newcomers under the government’s Test and Go pandemic regulations, while Bangkok’s gay scene is much alive in Pattaya on weekends. However, the national closing time of 11 p.m. for licensed properties is an enormous obstacle, but that applies to the entire kingdom.

Boyztown has always had a chic look. The seating, the setting, the glamour, the shows and the eye candy have always beaten the rival gay neighborhoods of Sunee Plaza (now a largely deserted wasteland) and Jomtien Complex (a group of the same open street bars).

Boyztown drink prices have always been historically higher, though even that issue may now be under review. The new bar Pikky’s has all its beer prices are 100 baht.

Mainly thanks to apps for gay contact and social media in general, the internationally organized gay scene is in serious decline. About half of all gay bars and clubs in the world have closed in the past five years, a trend encouraged but certainly not started by the coronavirus. The locations that remain offer relaxation and socializing with peers, features that the Internet can’t recreate, even if Zoom is pretending. Pattaya is lucky enough to add organized and professional entertainment to the mix, mostly provided by transgender comedians.

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