Not everyone reads a bar girl forum day and night, and many people can find themselves quickly lost and confused by much of the jargon used around the Bangkok bars, especially if you are on your first trip into the exciting neon-lit world of gogo bars.
Get to know the right ‘jargon’
To help you get to grips with jargon and up-to-speed with the latest gogo gossip, here’s a brief glossary to some of the more commonly use words and abbreviations:
Gogo bar: Hopefully you have a rough idea of what a gogo bar is, not getting it confused with the obscure subgenre of 70s funk music. A gogo bar is basically a bar, which employs go-go dancers, different from beer bars that tend not to have any paid dancers on staff. Unlike coyote bars or gentleman’s clubs, gogo bars tend to be more ‘down-to-earth’, or in other words, cheaper and a tad more seedy.
G-Club: G-clubs, gentleman’s clubs, coyote bars, these are more upmarket version of the gogo bars, typically employing more attractive and better educated staff, catering more exclusively to businessmen and wealthy customers. Don’t assume the models and dancers on staff here are prostitutes, unlike in the gogo bars where customers are commonly encourage to ‘find love’ and take girls home.
Mamasan/Papasan: A mamasan (female/ladyboy) or papasan (male) is a member of gogo bar staff who is employed to take care of customers in the bar. Above this they are employed to manage the girls and waitresses on staff and in many bars the head mamasan/papasan will have great influence over the staff, taking staff with them when they move bars. Mamasans are there to help introduce you to the girls/boys you want to meet and to help sort out any problems you may have while in the bar. They are typically much older and more experienced (and bigger!) than other members of staff.
Hostess: Hostesses are employed by bars to bring in the customer, usually done by sitting by the entrance and looking attractive or flashing promotions (that isn’t a euphemism.). Hostess are usually much younger and more attractive than mamasans/papasan and their duties go little beyond getting you inside the bar. It’s common to be dragged into a bar by a hypnotically beautiful hostess, who sits you down and helps you order your first drink before disappearing in a metaphoric puff of smoke. Hostesses are normally under pressure to bring a number of customers in, but if you offer to buy them a drink they are should at least keep you company long enough to work your charm.
Gogo dancer: A gogo dancer is employed by a gogo bar to dance on a stage or platform in the bar. Gogo dancers will typically dance in uniform or bikini (or even naked in some of the raunchier bars), spending most of their time doing the Bangkok Shuffle. There are limited variations on this, though some gogo bars will also employ showgirls/boys. The vast majority of gogo dancers are there for customers to chat to and bar fine, and while some dancers are happy to make their money from tips and drinks, many will be keen to spend the night with you!
The Bangkok Shuffle: A dance-like move involving minimal limb movement, used by gogo dancers to give the illusion they are happy dancing for customers when they would much rather be outside of the bar eating and gossiping with their friends.
Showgirl/boy: A showgirl or showboy is a kind of the next step up from a gogo dancer. Showgirls/boys tend to be more attractive and confident and do more complex dances and choreographed shows. Like gogo dancers, they are also typically there to drink with the customers and are available to be bar-fined, but often at a higher price.
Coyote: A coyote is a type of gogo dancer working in a G-club or coyote bar. Similar to gogo dancers, coyotes are employed to dance and drink with customers, but it’s uncommon for a bar to allow you to bar fine a coyote or take them home for the night. With this in mind they tend to rely more heavily on drinks and customer tips in the bar.
Farang: A farang is the slang word for ‘Westerner’ or non-Asian foreigner, derived from the word Farang-set, which means French. Some expats and regular tourists find the word offensive, which is debatable, but it is a very commonly used word on the gogo bar scene.
Check-Bin: Check-bin very basically means bill. If you want to pay up you ask for you check bin, which is usually calculated by the receipts kept in your ‘chit’ (bill cup), sat in front of you.
Lady drink/boy drink: A lady drink or boy drink is a drink bought by a customer for a member of staff. Staff members will often ask for a drink as a form of tip, and by buying them a drink they are then expected to spend a period of time sitting with you, chatting (usually until their drink is finished but it all depends on how you are getting on – or how busy they are). If you spend a significant amount of time talking to a member of staff, or request for a member of staff to sit with you, then you are expected to buy them a drink. Drinks are usually priced anything from 20 to 100 THB more than customer drinks, so be sure to check first.
Bar Fine: A bar fine is a fee paid in order for a member of staff to leave work early for the night, or to take a night off. By paying a bar fine a customer is then allowed to leave the bar with that member of staff (and do whatever is agreed between two consenting adults. i.e. have sex). Bar fines can vary but a typical bar fine for a gogo dancer is around 600 THB, while showgirls can be over twice this price. Not all staff members are available to be bar fined and some staff may only be allowed to leave the bar after they have finished their duties for the night. The bar fine is kept by the bar and it’s uncommon for the staff member to receive a significant percentage of it, therefore it’s important to negotiate how much the staff member wants for their time, typically referred to as ‘short time’ or ‘long time.’
Short Time: ‘Short time’ refers to the amount of time a staff member will spend with a customer after leaving the bar. This can vary greatly but typically it can be anything from 30 minutes to 4 hours.
Long Time: As with the term ‘short time,’ ‘long time’ is also still somewhat open to interpretation and can mean almost any period of time from 3 hours to 24 hours. While it will typically refer to an overnight stay don’t be surprised to be woken at the crack of dawn as your guest prepares to leave and visit the local temple.
NEP: The NEP is the abbreviation for the Nana Entertainment Plaza, today better known simply as Nana Plaza. Nana Plaza is a multi-story courtyard building lined with gogo bars, located on Sukhumvit Soi 4.
Soi Cowboy: Soi Cowboy is lively street of neon-lit gogo bars located near the Asoke intersection in Bangkok.
Patpong: Patpong is an area of gogo bars located among the Patpong Night Market in Soi Patpong 1 and 2, found in the Silom district of Bangkok.