Shark disco reborn as Star Wars

PATONG: The Shark discotheque, closed for more than a year after allegations of lewd behavior, is to reopen next month under new ownership and with a new name, Star Wars. The Patong landmark on the corner of Rat-U-Thit 200 Pi Rd and Soi Bangla has been taken over by Maroot Tainikom, who also runs the nearby Tiger disco and plans a dramatic change of image for the disco. “Thais like me will operate the business, with no disgusting dressing, and no drugs,” he said. “Our staff will screen the customers. I really need to build up a new image of this place.” Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi ordered the Shark closed on a licensing technicality on January 30 last year following the publication in Thai-language newspapers of photographs showing girls dancing topless in the club, and a game in which male customers knelt with their hands behind their backs, eating ice cream out of cups gripped between girls’ thighs. The photographs, it later transpired, had been taken some four years earlier, long before the introduction by the current government of the Better Social Order campaign Attempts by the authorities to have Canadian manager-shareholder Kevin Radke expelled from the country, on grounds that such activities were in conflict with Thai morals, were unsuccessful. However, Mr Radke later gave up his suite at Le Meridien Patong and has been incommunicado since then. It is believed that he has left the country. K. Maroot said he hopes people will forget the Shark when they visit Star Wars, with its live band, “millennium” style and capacity to entertain 2,500 people at a time. He is concerned about the government’s new excise tax on entertainment venues that have space for dancing but believes his investment of about 10 million baht will pay off. Star Wars opens on March 15.

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