Sunday, June 13, 2010
Double Duty On Soi Twilight (3)
[The last of three parts. The first two are below this post]
On my way back along Suriwong to see Noi at X-Boys in Soi Twilight I stopped a few times to watch the people on the street, unsuccessfully trying some night photos in a few locations and finally reaching the entrance to the soi again around 8:35. Although it hadn’t been much of a walk past dinner (at all) and despite the relatively early hour I was ready to call it a day and was sorry I’d told Noi I’d stop back by to buy him a drink.
A deal’s a deal in my book, though, and from interviews I know there are already bountiful numbers of farang who don’t keep their word with the guys. Not wanting to be painted with that brush personally on any level I put my camera away and dove headlong (so to speak) into the soi.
Reaching X-Boys I could see what the flurry of activity had been while I was eating my dinner: the guys had been making chrysanthemum garlands. Long ones. A lot of them. I estimated a good 200 yards of them, snaking around different parts of the club. It looked like a flower stall had exploded on the raised platform stage inside, blasting portions of blooms and white petals throughout the club. The scent was overpowering.
Although they’d been open a little while they were still scurrying around, clearing the wreckage. There were piles of stems three feet high in any number of places, a few people stuffing them into large trash bags, hauling them out the front door and running them off down the soi to be dumped, somewhere. Six or seven of them were putting the garlands into large clear trash-sized plastic bags which looked heavy, judging how they had to lug them out the front door and onto a cart to be rolled away.
Some were still in street clothes, some already in their speedo-type suits but everyone was running around in a near-panic. “This must be a little like it must be in an ant farm,” I said to the waiter who jumped up to greet me. He didn’t understand my comment but smiled nevertheless, motioning me over to a seat still half covered in petals. I looked around for Noi and saw him sweeping petals into a pile with a broom, but his heart didn’t seem to be in it. He looked tired as he looked up from his drudgery but when he saw me he put on his work face and smiled, dropping the broom and hurrying over to me.
A hefty Mamasan noticed there was a customer on premises and came over to make sure I stayed, taking my elbow and leading me over to a different seat, also littered with petals. She spoke sharply to one of the guys in “uniform” who swept quickly around beneath the table in front of the upholstered bench while Mamasan herself brushed the petals off of the table top and bench – right back down onto the just-swept floor. The boy went back over the floor again. As I sat down Mamasan gave the seat one last sweep of her hand, pulling it back just before I landed on it. Noi scooted in right next to me as I watched the guys continue to furiously sweep off the stage area.
“That’s the most movement anyone’s going to see on that stage tonight - and I’m the only one here to witness it!” I commented to Noi, just as a handful of petals landed like confetti on our table, flung air borne by a broom on stage. Mamasan again spoke sharply, this time to the guy with the offending broom in his hands, and he bowed at me with a wai saying “Sorry!” Mamasan was also smiling and apologizing and I smiled back “Mai pen rai, Mamasan – I so rarely have a carpet of petals put down for me.” She had already turned to call a command out to the DJ, and music started.
I continued to watch the unofficial floor show, kind of appreciating the variety it gave to the regular shows most clubs put together. I ordered water from the waiter who appeared soon after, and Noi had orange juice. I didn’t have anyone with me to properly interpret and both Noi and I were tired so I didn’t get a lot of his “story” that evening, but it was enough just to enjoy being right in the middle of my private show. About 10 minutes after I’d walked in two other farang arrived and sat down, but they’d missed most of the excitement; the last of the sweeping was all that was left to do, and the guys in street clothes had gone back to change.
“Late start,” I called over to them, having to shout a bit to be heard over the music. “They were having a crafts class.” The other farang looked puzzled, so I gave them a brief overview of the garland-making. They evidently were looking for the traditional display and didn’t seem interested. “Their loss,” I said to Noi, who misunderstood but picked up his glass and replied “Cheers!”
Soon the staff was back out into the main club area: seven or eight workers in white dress shirts, two or three other Mamasan types and around 20 guys on stage out of the 40 or so Noi said were on staff, three energetic coyote dancers danced on their raised platforms (well, it was early) and the music was louder than I’d prefer, so when I saw one of the waiters bring an ashtray to the other farang and even saw one of the working guys smoking I started planning to leave as soon as gracefully possible.
By 9:00 I’d given up on grace and pantomimed to Noi it was sleep time for me. He already knew better but asked “I go room you?” and I didn’t blame him for trying. As I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post: always ask for the sale! I told him thank you, no, but tipped him well for his time, settled the check bin and bid him good night. It had already been an interesting experience.