Nana Journals

An anthology of some of the best writings, photos, and information pertaining to the Bangkok
nightlife featuring comments and highlights from the best blogs and websites on the subject.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Soi Cowboy was Soi Gold Label (A Little History)

Started in early 1975, the Gold Label was the “seminal bar” in every sense; aside from being the first bar on the Soi; it was the first bar aimed at expatriate custom; it was also the first double-shophouse wide bar, and it was also the first multi-story bar, and it was the first A-Go-Go and “Show” bar (later, upstairs), while downstairs, it remained a lounge.

But mainly, it was the bar that realized -and made others realize- that the Soi was an ideal location for a night entertainment area. The Gold Label enjoyed an approximate three-year run of popularity. At first, only the first and second floors were used, but for a brief period the third floor was opened to accommodate the custom. The regular expatriate clientele treated it as if it were a best-kept secret - and for the most part, it was. It has since been replaced by several other bars, the latest being the Baccara Bluebird A-Go-Go . During those early years the Gold Label was not only the first, but for a long time the only bar, so naturally enough, the soi was referred to as Soi Gold Label .

But times were changing; within the next three years, the Gold Label would fade from the scene and a number of smaller, single-shophouse bars would open. By 1978-1979 the Soi reached a nominal ‘critical mass”, and as time passed, it was becoming clear that the leader of this new pack was the Cowboy Bar.
The Cowboy Bar was opened by another then-recently retired US military veteran. Everyone knew him, unsurprisingly, as “Cowboy”. This upsurge in numbers of entertainment venues on the Soi and the resultant increase in popularity were not lost on Bernard Trink , then with the Bangkok World. The Soi was often mentioned in his weekly entertainment page. He dubbed the soi, “Soi Cowboy” and the name immediately ‘stuck’ - today you won’t find a taxi driver who doesn’t know where Soi “C’boi” is.

Only a few die-hards remember it as Soi Gold Label.

Richard D. Hartman from
Bangkok Eyes

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