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Mandagay – End of an era?

The rumours have been going around for a few weeks now, after a mini social order crackdown on large late night venues in Chiang Mai. However, this week we had it confirmed from sources close to the management, sadly July 25th will be the last night for Chiang Mai’s Gay Scene legend Mandalay Bar, known affectionately by many as Mandagay.

Mandalay Bar

We’ve heard conflicting rumours about what the future holds, some say the closure is permanent, others say it will be open again in a few weeks. As with all such things, time will determine the outcome. However, one thing is certain, the winds of change are blowing in Chiang Mai and there is a movement to bolster and preserve the city’s ancient heritage and move modern entertainment and night life outside the historical center. Stories about what may happen to other bars eg. at the Night Bazaar have also been doing the rounds for years but now they are much closer to reality as the whole of the downtown sex industry is facing a purge.

Mandalay, is an enormous Thai style disco and live music venue located just off the moat. Although not marketed as a gay venue, and having dancing girls as part of the show, it has become the de-facto venue of choice for young gay Thais on a night out. Particularly Thursday through Saturday nights the place is packed with trendy metrosexuals dancing the night away. But, it’s never been so popular with foreigners due to a racist door policy and excessively loud music which have deterred the older generation. Also, the Thai style of drinking whiskey whilst standing and dancing around tables is alien to many farangs.

Of course, this is not the first time Mandalay has closed as the political tides shift in Chiang Mai. A few years ago it was closed for many months which was actually a big benefit to the gay scene as several smaller venues with more of a gay focus thrived. Sadly, most disappeared shortly after Mandalay re-opened.

The biggest benefactor this time around looks to be relative newcomer Seeman Pub See Man is a purpose built smart and modern gay bar with a show and coyote dancers. Situated on the edge of the Nimmanheminda Rd area it is much more convenient for the many Thai gays living in areas like Santitham and has already become very popular. It’s also near other popular gay friendly venues like Warm Up, Infinity and Tawan Deang and open late.

Mandalay bar Logo

Update 25 July: It seems they will now delay closing for another week until the end of this month