Go Go or GoGo Bars take their name from the Go Go dancers. The original GoGo dancers were those employed to dance, sometimes in cages in Discotheques back in the 1960’s. This was the height of Mini skirt fashion and mini skirts were often paired up with high boots. Girls dancing in discotheques called the boots Go-Go boots.
The actual name Go Go is taken from a French expression meaning ‘having a lot of energy’. True enough the disco dancers did. Eventually the name was adopted by some striptease and burlesque type bars in Tokyo and spread out around the world till there are now Go Go Bars in most countries of the world. Today though the only connection a GoGo Bar has with a Disco is that people dance and there is music. Today sex is the name of the game.
The word Go Go is more often than not used on the outside of the Bar but it is not always the rule. Some of them call themselves Rock and Roll Bars or Clubs or simply a name.
Go Go bars are very different from Beer Bars or other types of club and all fit a certain sameness pattern although some will chance their arm and do something a little different. I have visited a couple of dozen GoGo Bars in Thailand and in the Philippines and one of my long term partners was a Go Go dancer and I have dated and chatted to others. I base this article then on practical experience and inside knowledge of the scene in Southeast Asia.
The Go Go Boot has never truly disappeared from the fashion scene, only the name has changed. In the 70's the GoGo name faded out of use and they were simply boots. In the mid 80's a name appeared as once again tall boots were paired with short skirts. Now they were more popularily known as F*** Me Boots, a name which has lingered on.
And yes Go Go Boots are still very commonly worn by GoGo dancers.
Go Go Dancers
Outside a GoGo Bar
The Outside of the GoGo will have coloured flashing lights and neon signs. They will nearly always say ‘Go Go’ somewhere as it is a particular type of customer they are out to attract. Dependent on the size of the Bar and the locality will determine who is on the door. Quite often there are doormen or bouncers at work. If there are not be assured that they are very close by. More often than not there could be anything between two and twenty very pretty girls standing there. They may or may not be in some sort of sexy uniform. They will call out to passers by to try to attract them in. They may give out leaflets offering two drinks for the price of one. There is usually a system at work whereby the girls rotate, taking turns to take ‘caught’ customers into the Go Go Bar. This rule can be bypassed if you request that a certain girl takes you inside. Some girls do have regular customers. These girls are all waitresses and in spite of their sometimes skimpy outfits are not dancers.
Regulation in order
The actual door of the GoGo is usually cloaked over so that passers by are unable to see what is happening inside. This ‘rule’ is frequently deliberately broken as a teaser, giving just enough of a peep to arouse curiosity.
Sometimes you may be frisked before you are allowed entry as they check for firearms, knives or drugs. All Go Go Bars are inside and all are air conditioned.
Cameras are usually banned in GoGo Bars, though some may actually allow and promote photography on certain days.
Inside a Go Go Bar
Depending on the bar you are entering your first visit to a GoGo Bar can be both a shocking and slightly surreal experience. There inside the door almost immediately there are beautiful semi naked girls. More often than not most of the walls of the GoGo Bar are made of mirrors. There may only be two girls dancing but there may seem like there are a dozen. The light is always subdued inside and where light is used it is invariably blue or red.
The mirrors may be around all or just some walls. The ceiling may be mirrored too and on occasion the floor as well. When the girls are not eyeing up customers they are dancing to themselves in the mirrors.
The subdued lighting definitely lends an atmosphere but it also helps to hide things too. The girls may well be beautiful but they, like the customer are not flawless and the lighting can very helpful.
Mostly the dancing podium or staging will be in the centre of the bar. This will usually be round or oblong in shape. Frequently there will be poles at intervals along the stretch of the staging. Sometimes there may only be enough room for two girls to dance. In other clubs there may be room for twenty more. These girls are chosen for their beauty and allure as well as their dancing skills. Sadly the dancing skills are frequently overlooked.
Some Go Go bars may be double tiered, with the girls dancing on a plexiglass floor above you. These may slide down a firemans pole to the floor below.
In addition to the dancing many of the larger bars will have a few naked girls showering or taking bubble baths.
As with Beer Bars there is always a Bell in a GoGo Bar and depending on the size of the establishment there could be several. Ringing that bell means that you are paying for a round of drinks. This could be for all the girls and all the customers or just the girls. It can work out very expensive. Go Go Bar owners know this and will often impose a maximum payout or a similar realistic deal. It is surprising however how often one inebriated customer will ring a bell. I am sure that this is where the saying "more money than sense" comes from. At times the bell is replaced by a hooter or claxon.
Ping Pong Balls made their way out of the Go Go Bars to the Beer Bars. The Ping Pong Balls may be normal sized or extra large. The basic idea is that each ball is worth a set amount to the girl who retrieves it. The customer buys a bucket of balls and throws them to the girls to catch. They can be thrown one at a time or tossed en masse into the girls.
Ping Pong Balls
The dancers on the stage may be part of a ‘string’ which is replaced every twenty minutes or so. Alternatively they may be a single rotating string were a certain number of girls change at intervals. In some Bars the girls will dance in static positions. Here those girls near the door will be in bikinis. Further in to the bar they will be topless and further still completely naked.
Entering a bar with a waitress the customer will be rapidly assessed by the Mamasan or one of the head waitresses. This assessment will determine where you will be seated. Whereas the Go Go Bar is not normally out to rip you off they are wanting you to part with as much cash as possible, in the nicest possible way. The wealthier, or perhaps more inebriated you are may mean you get to meet the most beautiful and silver tongued of girls.
Other Bars way not have the deep room approach and girls may be topless, bottomless, totally naked or in full bikinis. They will slowly shuffle along dancing to the various tracks each in their own inimitable way. At times there may be a special dance by a special girl. Mostly, but not always, the girls on stage will have a number or name on them. This could be on their bra, their boots or even written on their skin. These girls are all for sale. Be sure though that in the normal run of things that they are not being exploited. They are doing it as a means to an end. To get money, a husband or a boyfriend. They all could do other things. It is the lifestyle they have chosen and most really enjoy themselves. They are exploiting the system and not the other way round.
Some GoGo Bars are a hybrid, halfway between a Beer Bar and a Traditional Go-Go. They may actually be open on one or more sides to the street and the girls may be seen dancing. If this is the case there will never be any full nudity.
Within the Go Go Bar there are generally two or possibly three ranges of seats. There are generally stools right around the podium which use the staging as the table for the drinks. Then there is further more comfortable seating back against the walls (below the mirrors) with small fixed tables in front. At times there may also be seats along the side of the service bar.
The Customer will be seated by the waitress as per instructions of the Mamasan. It is possible to bluff your way into alternative seating but they don’t really like it that way. The waitress will then ask for your order and then depart to get it. Very often you, the customer, will be seated next to or between two dancers who are waiting their turn on the podium. These very beautiful semi naked gloriously scented girls will ask your name, where you come from etc. The customer politely replies and as he asks their names they snuggle up. Warm naked flesh pressed against the customers thighs. The girls will sometimes take quite shocking liberties but are usually just very flirtatious at this stage often confined to a little massage of your arm or thigh. By the time the waitress has returned with a drink the customer will be inclined to buy his two new friends one as well. This is where these girls earn some of their money, ‘Ladies Drinks’. These are more expensive but not exceptionally so. The girls get a proportion of the money of every drink you buy for them. The drinking of the ladies drinks will be timed to the second. There will be little or nothing in the glasses as they get up and start dancing again. They will be dancing for you. Every time your eyes raise from their beautiful bodies to their faces there will be a smile to greet you. What do you the customer see? Mischief? Promise?
Paying for Drinks
The normal procedure when paying for drinks is that a bill is placed in a small container on the table in front of you. A second, third, or fourth chit will arrive with each round of drinks. In some bars they have become automated and there is a single bill which is updated with each round. A word from the wise. Once you have bought three rounds, make a payment. It does not mean you have to leave but clearing your bill allows you to know just how much money you have left to play with.
If you ever end up in an establishment where a bill does not arrive with your drink or very shortly afterwards then beware you may get stung. Do not purchase a lady drink. Don’t speak to or touch a lady. Ask for your bill, pay it and leave.
You May Get Stung
Whilst you are engrossed you may well be hit upon again by another girl or two. All is fair in love and GoGo. What does the customer do? Turn them away? These girls are experts in expressing disappointment at your selfishness and making you feel a cad. You may be inclined to buy them a drink too or perhaps say you are waiting for your friends to come on down. That is it you have fallen into the trap. There is nothing in the rules to say you cannot just pay your bill and leave but most don’t at this stage. A few more drinks and the money dries up or there is a feeling of guilt about the wife back home. Perhaps not.
The customer is being seduced. The GoGo Girls are experts at making a man feel handsome and desirable.
Club Mistys a go go bar pattaya Thailand
Go Go Girls come from all walks of life. Some are ex Beer Bar Girls. Go Go Girls usually become one because they are beautiful and dance well. The other skills they are taught or learn from each other. Some GoGo Bars insist that girls attend training sessions where they are taught skills which will never appear in any conventional textbook.
The more accomplished and beautiful dancers amongst the girls are usually paid quite well. The girls attract the customers so no Go Go Bar is in a position to look for new girls every week.
I have chatted with many Go Go Girls. They are no different to any girl at a supermarket or office reception. They all have hopes and dreams and the problems of life. Many are the sole supporters of their own children and elderly parents back home.
So the customer decides that his two new companions would make a really fun date. He will not just have to pay the drinks bill he has just run up but have to pay the Bar Fine or Pay Bar as well. Go Go Dancers do not come cheap. In a Beer Bar a girl may be Bar Fined for 2-300 Thai Baht. A Go Go Girl will be at least twice that amount and sometimes three to five times as much. If she is a special dancer then it could be even more again. The Bar Fine is simply a release from the Bar. You have not bought the girl or any special privileges. If you are in the Philippines she may even be a Cherry Girl.
Bar Fined out. You can go to dinner, to the movies, sit on the beach. Anything else is between you and her and how much you are prepared to pay.
In some Go-Go Bars the message is quite clear because the Bar Fine and short time rental of a room in the back of the bar are one and the same. In effect the room is free. The price of the girl is negotiable between the customer and herself.
GoGo Bars can be fun. A beautiful girl with a beautiful body can be a salve for the soul. In Pattaya in Thailand they are a popular attraction for tourists especially those from India and the Middle East. Western men number highly amongst the regular customers and they increasingly visited by curious Western women too. All seem to enjoy the experience. Something to write home about.
Once you have visited half a dozen or so Go Go’s a sort of sameness creeps in. You may return to watch an especially good dancer or friendly girl or waitress. It is possible to forge strong and genuine friendships in a GoGo Bar without the relationship ever going any further. These are, after all, just ordinary girls doing a less than ordinary job.
Some GoGo Bars stand out for being different. AngelWitch in Pattaya is one and the DollHouse in Balibago, AngelesCity in the Philippines. Both are well worth seeing.
The toilets in Go Go Bars are invariably very clean and regularly maintained. Getting to the toilet can be a little like running the gauntlet in some bars with girls without customers groping you en route. Sometimes there may be a male toilet attended to will attempt a very off putting neck and shoulder massage as you pee.
Just a few Go Go Bar Names in Pattaya and Balibago
Carousel Lady Go Go
The Windmill Club
Las Vegas Lady Go Go
Far East Rock
Happy a Go Go
Diamond A Go Go
The Tahitian Queen is the oldest Go Go Bar in Pattaya, Thailand. It first opened in 1978 and overlooks the Coconut Bar and the sea, not that you can see either from the cool inside. It has a lot of atmosphere and is well worth a visit.
The Tahitian Queen
It doesn't look much from the outside but there is a magic world on the other side of those doors.
Perhaps Not For Everybody
The GoGo Bar scene is not for everybody but it is surprising just who you will meet inside. It is definitely worthwhile visiting two or three just to educate yourself.
Above all treat the girls with respect and you will get respect in return. They are all someones daughter, sister, girlfriend or wife.
There again it is not just girls.
Not Just Girls
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on January 19, 2019:
This is a great article and I can certainly relate to it from my earlier experiences in Thailand.
Ced Yong from Asia on January 24, 2017:
This is a really fascinating and informative hub. I'm also deeply impressed with your writing style. You handled a potentially dicey subject very respectfully.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on January 13, 2011:
TravelinAsia - You are so right. I have dozens of examples. My partners daughter has recently started work in a GoGo Bar. It is what she wants to do. She does not have to. She is doing it for all the reasons you say and the vast majority are the same. I understand and love her no less for it as long as she is happy.
TravelinAsia from Thailand/Southeast Asia on January 13, 2011:
People don't want to believe that women would choose to be prostitutes. People choose to believe what they are comfortable with, instead of forming an opinion based on facts and actual experiences. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of these women choose to work as prostitutes. Why? It pays better than working for a living. In the beginning they might like the lifestyle, being the star of the party all the time. They will have plenty of time to reflect on their decision when they get old and less attractive.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on November 22, 2010:
Glad you enjoyed it prasetio30. Thank you for reading.
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on November 22, 2010:
Very entertaining, my friend. I really enjoy to read this hub. Good presentation among the beautiful pictures. Thank you very much. ~prasetio
Hello, hello, from London, UK on November 16, 2010:
Fair enough I'll accept that.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on November 15, 2010:
Hello, hello, - I would never dream of shooting you down. I am sure some of them don't do it by choice but most do. I have talked to many and dated some and believe me or not they do like doing it. Some lie to their parents, boyfriends and husbands to do it. All I could really say is chat to some of the girls yourself. Some of these girls are more than qualified to work elsewhere and even earn more money but they enjoy the fun of every night being party night and every night being different.
Hello, hello, from London, UK on November 15, 2010:
I know I'll be shot down but I feel sorry for those girls having to earn a living like that. I am sure most of them don't it by choice.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on November 13, 2010:
4hourmike - Happy to have conjured up some happy memories. I know I have some.
4hourmike from Thailand on November 13, 2010:
Nice one, Peter, very comprehensive. I've been to a few of those that you mentioned. Of all of the things that can happen in a gogo, I enjoy the "shocking liberties" the most.
Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on November 13, 2010:
travel_man1971 - I never saw the movie. I will look out for it. Thanks for commenting.
Ireno Alcala from Bicol, Philippines on November 13, 2010:
Wow, Sir Peter; you continue to amaze me. It's like imagining the scenes from the movie Moulin Rouge! :D