- Written by Scott McDonald
- Category: About Det-5
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Looking for a "Sexy Night"? - Check Out Det 5!
The following story was written around the turn of the Millennium and perfectly describes the "Det 5 Experience" right up until 31 May 2006
If you're going down to the beginning of Sukhumvit Road between the expressway (Soi Zero) and Nana Plaza, looking for a sexy night, you have a choice between two “Sexy Nights”. Two establishments use the same name, and a mistake can be minimised by asking for Sexy Night Det 5 or simply “The Det”. The Det is nearly always open, with cold beer, cooling fans, and contemporary music to unwind with.
Naming a bar in relation to sex is natural in the night business, but what does Det 5 refer to?
After the US - Vietnam War, the United States began searching for its servicemen counted as missing and killed in action in Southeast Asia. The men sent to find them established operational detachments throughout the Western Pacific to provide the command, control and logistical headquarters of the Joint Task Force known as Full Accounting or JTF-FA. The Sexy Night Det 5 rock 'n roll beer bar, in the old Buckskin Joe Village, became the unofficially created, but officially patronised, “Fifth Detachment” or “Det 5” of this joint task force. Hence, after scouring the Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian countryside for their long perished countrymen, the members of JTF-FA and their friends unwound and relaxed in the cool company of cold beers.
Even today "The Det" is still one of the most frequented spots for American servicemen passing through the realm's capital city. Some of the members of the cast from the film, “A Bright Shining Lie”, about the U.S. soldier John Paul Vann’s experience in Vietnam, took in the Det 5 experience to get a feel for Bangkok’s nightlife.
With so many beer bars along Soi Zero and Nana Plaza, what makes "Sexy Night Det 5” such a popular place? Det 5’s focus is simple: it’s an open air World Music Bar providing the best variety in contemporary and classic music from the US, Europe and Thailand. If a survey of patrons was taken, they would most likely list their top reasons for going to “Det 5” as the ice cold bottled beer, loud rock n' roll, plenty of continuously running ceiling fans, two pool tables, a regulation dart throwing area, and one of the largest English-speaking hostess staffs in Bangkok, not actually in that order. All day, everyday, regular and new customers can enjoy it all in a hassle-free atmosphere. The main attraction at Det 5 making it all work is the owner, Khun Lek. Her personality and enthusiasm have built a solid reputation for Det 5 over the past 2 decades. Everyone is welcomed with a smile and a cold towel, whether you stay long or not. Thai hospitality that will bring you back is the bottom line at Det 5.
Det 5’s hours of operation and specialties are Happy Hour - 11:00 to 20: 00 every day, with all beers and standard spirits at 50 Baht. Det 5 serves a typical selection of bottled beer, and bartenders able to make mixed drinks of your choice. When the bell is rung at the bar you're in for a free drink. The most common is the Det 5 special lime kamikaze shooters; any other is a customer buying a round for everyone. If you want to find this beer bar after sightseeing all day in the Bangkok heat or returning home from a busy work day, ask for Soi Zero under the expressway overpass at the beginning of Sukhumvit Road next to Ploenchit Center. After finding the entrance to Soi Zero, stop by the second bar on the right and remove the sweat with a cold towel, order up a cold beer under a fan and select a song from a variety of music, in both English and Thai. But, if you are ready for more competition, check out the dart board and pool tables. If you're not familiar with the game, someone is bound to show you how to play, for language is almost never a barrier in Bangkok’s bars.
The First 20 Years
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3 Names - 2 Locations - 1 Experience
Origins of the first "Sexy Night - Det 5"
Long before cultural and economic forces prompted the homogenisation of the Bangkok night scene, one bar stood to differ from the usual uninspired and impersonal offerings.
This bar was known as “Sexy Night - Det 5” — A Unique Identity
Whilst the "Sexy Night" moniker will have prompted instant cognition, the “Det 5” name warrants further explanation. After the Vietnam War, the United States began searching for its servicemen missing and killed in action in Southeast Asia. Operational detachments were established throughout the region to provide the command, control and logistical headquarters of the Joint Task Force known as Full Accounting or JTF-FA.
Originally located in what was then Old Buckskin Joe Village, the Sexy Night Det 5 beer bar became the unofficial, yet officially patronised “Fifth Detachment” or “Det 5” of the Joint Task Force. Cold beer, rock ‘n roll jacked up to “11”, and engaging personal service were the intoxicating ingredients of a bar that many came to call their “local”. After 20 years, the elixir tastes just as sweet today…
Det 5 was the signature bar for a Soi that no longer exists! Sukhumvit’s maze of streets provides the city with 1000s of bars, but one Soi was quite unique. Welcome to Soi Zero.
Det 5 – The Experience
Home to Det 5 for over a decade, Soi Zero was a shrine to entertainment. Nestled under the Expressway between Sukhumvit and Ploenchit Roads, party was the order of the day (and night).
The unique location spawned many bars, but Det 5 stood out. It demanded your attention, yet was subtle and unassuming in its approach.
“Beer Bar” Evolved
Over the years Det 5 gained recognition as the modern update of a Bangkok beer bar. At the same time it garnered plaudits for its service, fabulous cocktail freebies and party nights that revelled till dawn. Whilst good times rolled, Soi Zero’s very future came into question…
Adieu Soi Zero!
Like many good things, it couldn't possibly last forever, the surreal peculiarity that was Soi Zero was finally shut down on 31 May 2006. Yet, Det 5 patrons were not to be denied. Whilst other bars packed up, never to be heard of again, Det 5's unique sound was packed up and shipped out, just 10 minutes walk away. Bigger and better premises, and the chance to become the World Music Bar & Restaurant it had always aspired to be.
Welcome to Sukhumvit Soi 8
The redefinition of Sukhumvit Soi 8's musical and culinary landscape was initiated on Thursday 1 June 2006...
From the innovation that was Soi Zero’s modern update of a "Bangkok Beer Bar" to Soi 8’s Remix of a World Music Experience, Det 5 has come full circle in its relentless pursuit of Bacchanalian Pleasures, adding a gastronomical dimension to the formula along the way! Whether it’s hands on and participatory, or quiet, confined and reflective, you will find a myriad of experiences at Det 5.
You dictate the vocabulary, we provide the atmosphere.
While Thailand's recent course in history met with one violent storm after another, with the country's karmic pendulum swinging precariously, from a military coup in 2006, to Suvarnabhumi Airport's occupation by the Yellow Shirts in 2008, to the Red Shirts occupation of Ratchaprasong in 2010 — and Mother Nature cruelly trying to administer the "coup de grâce" and inundating large swathes of the country in 2011 — Det 5 stayed above the fray and remained a sea of tranquility throughout the upheavals.
While Det 5 has always been well known for its eclectic collection of CDs, covering all possible genres in the musical firmament, the absence of Live music presented a void. This void was filled in June 2011, with the introduction of Open Mic Nights. These Live Music soirées are organised every Monday and have firmly established themselves among musicians and music aficionados alike.
Who knows what the future holds in store? Det 5 has enjoyed a spectacular first 2 decades, carving out its own small niche in Bangkok's cluttered entertainment world, and is fully committed to make the next 20 years even better. We sincerely hope to have you along for the journey.
Det 5 — Where The Music Never Stops! — Face The Music!