Life After The Shark Club, The Dismal Decline Of The Patong Beach Nightlife Scene

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When The Shark Club closed in January of 2002, the nightlife scene in Phuket took a serious hit. The Shark Club was not the only show in town, but it was the biggest, most glamorous and by far the most popular club in Patong. The success of The Shark Club was due in part to the club's owner Kevin Radke, who had managed to attract the right mix of people and provide an entertaining atmosphere that kept them coming. The Shark Club attracted people from all walks offe, including couples, single male and female tourists as well as Thai bar girls. One thing that stood out about The Shark Club was that there was always at least twice as many women as men, and most of the girls were stunningly beautiful. After The Shark Club closed there were few options for nightlife in Phuket. Banana Disco was quite popular with tourists, but the local Thai girls that used to be given free admission at The Shark Club were not happy to pay 200THB for the entry fee at Banana. The Tiger Entertainment Complex was quite popular immediately after The Shark Club closed, however this only lasted a few months. Safari Pub had always been popular with those who were looking to party until the sun came up, however people only went to Safari when the nightclubs on Bangla Road closed at around 2AM. The social order campaign introduced by Thaksin Shinawatra in 2001 presented another hurdle for nightclub owners in Phuket. While many club owners were able to pay bribes to stay open later, it became increasingly difficult to stay open on a regular basis. The Thai government has openly stated that they do not consider bars and nightlife an important part of the Phuket tourism industry. This is a trend that continues with the current administration, recently they have stated that they need to focus on more high end tourists. Bars and nightclubs are not only subject to early closing times, but they are also prohibited from selling alcohol during provincial and federal elections, and several Thai holidays. There have been several pleas to make tourist areas exempt from these alcohol bans, as it is clear that it could have a negative effect on the tourism industry. The response of the Thai government is that foreigners need to respect Thai culture and no exceptions will be made. The Shark Club was briefly reopened a year later, by the same owner as Tiger Entertainment Complex. This experiment was a brutal failure, and the new club had no support from local Phuket residents. The magic of The Shark Club was about far more than the location, it was an atmosphere that could not be easily reproduced by anyone. Many have since tried and failed, and nobody has ever come close to achieving anywhere near the same success. There was a lot of excitement and anticipation when Rock City opened on the Patong Beach Road in 2005, and Rock City may have rivaled the success of The Shark Club for a short period of time. Rock City hostedve rock shows including cover bands for famous rock groups such as ACDC, Kiss, Metallica and many others. Finally Patong beach had something to celebrate, but the celebration was shortved, the club was forced out of the location on the beach road and was forced to relocate into a smaller venue on Bangla Road. Seduction Discotheque opened in 2006, and they enjoyed immediate success in marketing themselves as an upscale, high end club for Phuket's elite. The people who considered themselves to be in Phuket's upper echelon flocked to Seduction as if they had something to prove. It was as if they felt they needed to be seen in the club in order to confirm their elite status. It did not take long for this concept to fall out of favour, today Seduction is struggling to stay open, and the image of an elite club is long gone. Why did The Shark Club succeed when so many others have failed? This is the question that people in Phuket have been asking for almost a decade. The Owner Kevin Radke was wellked by his staff as well as his customers. He established a relationship with the people who mattered most, the people who filled his club each and every night. This is something that Kevin is hoping to recapture in his new club that is scheduled to open in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2011. The news of the new club willkely be bitter sweet for Phuket residents, happy that The Shark Club is reopening, and disappointed that it is not in Phuket.