Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Peace and quiet...

Left: A relaxing Didi, our dog, while her boss (me, haha) is away to Europe/Holland on (family) business!

At the moment, your informer about the going ons with The Backstage, is temporary back in his homecountry Holland for roughly 4 weeks.
These last days were rather exciting because at first we were not sure I could get away in time at all... but now I am here in Holland and as such its way harder to report about what is going on at The Backstage.
My apologies for that!

Kik is busy getting the last paperwork in order, but knowing the sometimes typical way things are organised here, ergo not according to western logic but Thai logic, it progresses slowly.
We would not like the idear of us, or you for that matter, being dragged off to the police because something was not as it should have been.
These previous weeks we heard several times of such 'incidents' and except that they are costly, even for us farang, its also a big nuisance... so we decided to run no risk and be sure we comply.
BUT ofcourse, as you might expect me to say: This attitude from us is no guarantee that we actually succeed in that.
We do our best though!

I expect to be back after mid May, but if all goes well, wel before the end of May. Till that time reporting here will be somewhat minimal.

BUT enjoy whatever you are doing right now and hope to see you all son again in Patong!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A farewel party annex testdrive of The Backstage....

Left: Friends enjoying themselfs after Kik had organised a spontanious farewell party for yours truly the night before last.

A spontanious farewellparty for yours truly, organised by Kik, with lots of his/our friends from Simon and My Way, and actually also some farang friends, gave us a wonderfull insight what needs to be taken care off at The Backstage in the futur.
As we say we had a wonderfull fun learning opportunity ;-)

Myself, I was very happy to wittness how disciplined everybody behaved in our special circumstances right now. Everybody was very considerate with the restrictions we still have to work with here.
It also confirms my believe that its best to start a new place from scratch at the beginning of low season. Far less pressure and one can afford to enjoy the funny side of when things do not go as they should have gone, to learn with a smile!

On a personal note: I was again surprised by the arrival of so many thai friends on the occasion of my departure... then ofcourse we were still unaware that my departure the next day for Europe was totally going no where. I didn't get further then Bangkok... to return back to Phuket on the last flight leaving Bangkok last night!
KIk wanted to organise aother spontanious party but now for welcoming me back, with a broad smile... haha... but I asked not to do that crazy though could see the fun of it... I was simply too tired ;-)

A J&B friend of ours, Hans, came also, he was just recoverring from the news that his returnflight home was cancelled and he had to wait at least a week if not longer.... pffff.
Also heard from a German J&B friend of ours (one of our First Customers), who got stuck in Bangkok and went to Pattaya to ride out the cancellationstorm due to the vulcanic erruption.
Wim, Wiwat's husband from Amsterdam, who was supposed to leave for Holland 2 days before me, he's still stuck in Bangkok till at least wensday or maybe even saterday/sunday if not later.... A mess huh?
Well, at least Hanse felt extra welcome showing up for my farewell party, which in the end turned out to be an impossible-to-leave party !

Right: A happy Kik (doesn't he look great!) talking to Hans (not bad looking as well ofcourse).

Friday, 16 April 2010

First Customers but openinghours still pretty irregular ;-)

Left: Our official First Customers sitting on our relative virgin terrace LOL.

One of the last customers of J&B paid their first visit to our new location The Backstage last night.
Ofcourse we were still pretty much in an improvising mode. But knowing that one of our two friends from Germany was leaving Patong, we did our best to open the bar in some decent way.

Due to circumstances, among which my own departure from Phuket to Holland for 3-6 weeks, as well as the aftermath of Songkran and the turmoil in Bangkok, combine that with the last organisational details surrounding The Backstage....which, how typical Thai, allways have last minute situations which need to be taken care off, also 'official' things, LOL.

Last night we discovered a, for us, new approach by police, respectively the way they check out things: They came to The Backstage to check up on us. We had no 'sideshow' meaning for Thai: signpost, a "sign" up on our building stating what we are. Also they didn't want to believe it was the homestay of The Backstage.... LOL... because they could not make a case either way, they left us alone this time. Gues we didn't fit in any of their rulebooks, so potentially complicated and unsure in outcome, ergo they let us be!
It made one thing clear for us though: double-, no tripplecheck our own paperwork to prove we are legit. And make a signpost on the building stating what we are; The Backstage meeting point. Because otherwise, we would get a fine for not having a 'sideshow' on our building. And fines being pretty steep here for businesses, we decided to open again when all these details, strange and weird as they sometimes might be, are taken care off.
I never heard before that you could get a steep fine for not having a sign on your building, a sideshow, while being open for business, even with all the paperwork in good order.
I gues it is a variation on letting us know who we must keep as friends... so we are now trying to find out if these officicers are the friends we need, in which case we know what to do and if not... then we have to find the right ones.
Welcome to Amazing Thailand.

So tonight we discuss the approach from now on, when and how we will open The Backstage for the next couple of weeks.... and at least til I am back from The Netherlands.
A pitty but better forwarned then start paying unnecessary 'fines".
Ergo, tonight closed again, but will let you know when we open up again and how ;-)

Starting a business from scratch is very different from taking over a bar or whatever, thats for sure! A take over is so much more easy, though it has its traps as well, but also cost waymore because you start with paying keymoney before you can do anything at all. From scratch you don't do that, but then a whole other series of problems are trown on your way...a small business or not, same same but also same time its a lot cheaper that way ;-)

Happy to say that our 3 guests were positivly impressed with our results sofar! They gave us some valuable feedback on our location which we wil look into and try to apply as son as we have the chance to!
Very graciously they brought a box full of delicious cakes from the Coffee Corner (oposite My Way in Paradise) to celebrate their first visit to The Backstage!

Right: The payment of our first bill as Backstage - from right to left: Joerg, Ulli and myself.. The 3 First Customers, haha, because we went , how appropriate, dutch!

Guys thanks for being our first customers and giving us your positive feedback, so much appreciated and we do hope to see you back in due time in, above anythng else, good health!!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Try out of terrace set-up & finally delivery fridge & drinks storage PLUS the expected arrival of the First Customer!!!

as Phuket is no Bangkok, all is blessfully(?) normal here on Phuket!

Left: A first set-up of the terrace/outdoors. On the left, Gong, our housekeeper and assisting with The Backstage, on the right Kik, busy on the phone trying to find out when the delivery of the drinks finally will take place.

Finally we worked out roughly how the set-up of the outdoor terrace is going to be... ofcourse we will find out what our guest in due time will do and think of it, and accordingly we will most likely adjust... if possible ofcourse, haha ;-)
Also we were able to fit two fans to the sidewalls of the terrace to bring a refreshing and hopefully often coolness bringing air to our friends/customers.

Right: With a lot of swetting, but the fridge was delivered and placed in its own private location, no entry allowed by unauthorised people hehe ;-)

Shortly afterwards, our first storage of drinks arrived from down our little soi and the filling up of the fridge started.... ofcourse overflowing but safely tucked away for thirsty troats haha.

Looking around in 'my' Backstage, I wonder were to put my coffeemachine, so I can continue at the Backstage with my favorite activity: making coffee in all variations as our old customers were used at J&B's. Haven't figured that one out yet, so I guess that has to wait till I return form Europe second half of May (I leave allready this comming monday).

Ofcourse its not ideal to be away 3-6 weeks when you just started your own new place, but that couldn't be helped.
We will see what needs to be done when I return, but I believe Kik and our small crew will start in my absence roughly along the line of our wishes and can only hope they will see enough customers to make them smile....
because for one, the foreigners will have a hard time finding us because we won't be busy doing any marketing, PR etc till I return;-)

O, if any of you have any suggestions, please feel free to mention them to me/us... it can only make our actionplan more complete to try to make The Backstage, even in serious difficult times as present, the new little hotspot we hope it will become!

The first experiments by being "open for business" will start from tomorrow onwards, at first not on an allways regular basis because we are not officially open yet, not even unofficially officially open hehe.. or whatever!
But we had hoped to receive our first customer today, but the beach held so much more attractions that he missed our specially prepared action for him as First Customer...... now we have to see when & who its going to be now ;-)

Monday, 12 April 2010

Cabaret costumes for The Backstage & our new logo!!!

In the picture on the left we see Kik looking at a dress while a friend aaaaaaand maybe fuuuuuutur performer at The Backstage sits between costumes on the floor.
As I wrote yesterday, when we received last minute invitation to the possibility of purchasing a bunch of costumes to support whatever (mini) performances we would like to see to take place at The Backstage.

In the end we purchased around 15 costumes and I believe soon enough we all get a chance to see how they can look on our little stage.... One thing I know, Kik is truly enjoying the prospect of working this new though little stage.
We all realise that such a stage in such small surroundings is much more difficult to play on/in then bigger stages elsewhere. For the performer it also has an advantage, the responses of the audiance is more direct, more critical. The audiance after all sits practically on the lap of the performer and as such makes everything done so much more visable.
In Holland we look at mini theaters as the ideal trainingground for performers, if they survive these small stages then in general they will be able to succesfully perform practicaly anywhere else.
Our greatest performing artists in my home country started in/on such small stages and in such mini theaters...
Now not that I want to compare with the likes of them, BUT I tell this just to let you know that in case of performing, smaller is not at all regarded as easier... its seen as a much bigger challenge.

The Backstage will slowly start with putting on stage small little productions, but in the beginning not at all regular. We also will start inviting other people to come and use our stage, for try-outs etc. .....

Next to performing, which is ofcourse part of a theatercafe, annex cabaret karaoke bar, we wil also try to stimulate contact among expats and longstay guests here on Phuket of all kinds of nationalities, as wel as giving the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, hopefuly not only farang but also Thai, so we can become a truly happy purple meeting point!

Because thats the full name of our place:
The Backstage, purple meeting point
Below you find a temporary logo of The Backstage, which roughly looks as we want it to look, but ofcourse is not yet perfect... hehe... as well as one can make lots of variations on its basic design so this is one of the first of a series of expressions of our new logo ;-)

If you like the challenge: feel free to design variations on our design while keeping in mind the basics, which we simply like to see returned: the purple circle with the name written over it, trough it on a background of , in principal Orange, but that can be replaced by pink on occasion(s). If you go for the challenge: Good luck and we do look forward to receiving your creativity!

Right: a rough design of our futur Logo as Backstage

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Does it all fit, what more do we need? haha, nothing for the time being by the look of it ;-)

Picture left: A look from outsite into The Backstage, with left the small stage.

While the temperature was rising, and not only by the sun here on Phuket, we were fitting our small theater/cabaret cafe annex cabaret karaokebar with the furnitur we bought last week after having cleaned the downstairs as good as we could.
The aircon, brandnew, is causing some problems, so very soon we were all as wet as wet can be, like Sonkran had started somewhat early haha. Though ofocurse happy that the temps didn't rise as much as they did in Bangkok.

We try to follow the events there, and be assured that Kik, and most of the people we know involved with the former J&B Bar and lots of others working in and around Paradise, are feeling pretty bad, but also involved, with whats happening in Bangkok. Its like a kind of battle............ we all hope though it will not turn into a battle of Isaan and other rural area's of Thailand and the city elite.. that would be too sad for words.
Maybe, I hope, we can give some distraction from the events there by being so busy with the preparations etc. though its hard to figur out what the efects will be on tourism, on the guys here while thinking of their families back home and or in Bangkok.

As Backstage we can allready tell you that next to purple the other dominant color of The Backstages will be ORANGE, YES!! Not only because orange is also the color of the Dutch and our Royal family (and one of my two favorite colors) BUT it is also a mix of yellow and red, the colors of the two fighting parties in Bangkok.
We hope that in the end compromise will win the day and the conflict, a hard needed honest compromise. Thailand may need its own version of an Orange revolution ;-)

Picture right: A look from the back to outsite. Ofcourse the terrace is not out yet and partly hidden behind and between the furniture indoors.

As you can see when looking at this two pictures of the interior of our Backstage, you notice, like we do, that the walls are prety empty. The need dressing up with posters and pictures of musicals, plays, opera's, concerts, movie and theaterstars, from Thailand and the rest of the world..........so, if you like, feel free to bring something with you from where ever you come from which we can hang on our walls.
We would be proud if our customers would help us in that way to make The Backstage a recognisable 'home' for all!

Latest little news:
Due to circumstances we have been offered a complete cabaret show outfit/costumes to take over. Kik and I will have a serious look at them this night and see if we can use them to make The Backstage even better prepared for all we want or would like to do aaand you might wish us to do!!
Keep you posted if we are indeed crazy enough to make such a bold move at such an early stage! ;-)

Friday, 9 April 2010

The last steps towards the end of Fase I ;-)

Picture left: A last view on a relative empty Backstage, with the new curtains in full view!

The construction/renovationpeople having finished their work in THe Backstage, the curtains all hanging now as they were designed for, and don't they look smart? The place looks very empty, and this will be the last time it will look that way, except maybe when a kind of 'spring'cleaning takes place sometime in the futur haha.
The bathroom with a more then decent, though simple, shower capacity has eben completed satisfactory. The stage and staircase are painted in a warm dark collor.........

Now it is time for the soundsystemguys, to install all the technical bits and pieces to make The Backstage swing on demand ;-).
It took the guys several days to get everything installed and working..... it became clear that some special construction was needed because some walls and ceilings were not too well suited to carry the weight of the boxes and the 42" flatscreen!
But in the end everything was installed and tested to our satisfaction... and we now hope ofocurse that that all will remain as such.
I say that, because during the installation of the soundsystem the newly installed and brandnew airconsystem allready refused to do its work, hence half the evening we had to deal with overheated technicians here ;-)

picture right: testing sound- and TV system, amidst a mess of stuff.

Now we enter the last stage of the first fase: cleaning, placing the delivered furniture, cleaning upstairs where the staff is going to stay, and making roughly everything operational, including fridge etc... only thing we have to agree upon is the small mobile bar we still need to purchase ;-) haha

By the way: The walls are now looking very empty... and they wil stay that way for a while... BUT maybe you, who read this and might come to Patong Phuket: Please feel free to bring old theater attributes with you, theaterposters, musicalposters, etc. so we can use them to decorate our walls!


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Interior decorating and all that jazz ;-) The Backstage's interior being delivered!

Picture:The interior of The Backstage slowly getting into shape with delivering of the furniture! Gong, our housekeeper and to some known as a former dancer at My Way Cabaret, sitting on some free space on one of the black couches

Slowly. or now, more accuratly, very fast our new location is getting into shape.
Today the furniture was delivered to The Backstage, mostly indoors, but also 12 chairs and some tables for outdoors. The very comfortable outdoorchairs will follow soon.
Also today, actually it is happening while I am typing this little entry here on our weblog, the whole music installation is being put into place, including everything needed for karaoke and life performances!
In total 6 musicboxes are being installed, 4 indoors and 2 on the outdoor terrace. Now originally I thought we could simply be happy with just a somewhat strong stereo set and a tv screen, BUT well after a barrage of arguments, laughing and all else you can imagine by the Thai here, I surrendered most, at least thats how I look at it, hehe. And now the soundsystem is being screwed to the ceilings and walls. A 42" TV screen is being hung on the staircase wall. A karaoke system being installed. MOst likely the Thai are now able to put up the volume to their hearts desire, which means that we farang might starts screaming or stare with sounddumb eyes in front of us while waves of music engulf us..... BUT that will only happen well after midnight, AND only if the special karaoke permissions have been handed out to us AND we managed to pay for the musicrights!

This last one seems to be tricky.... these last weeks their has been a severe crackdown on the bars, etc. in Paradise complex (at least) aand the lowest fine handed out was 50.000 baht. A small fortune for the Thai here, as most of you readers might know.
But Kik is our specialist in that area and for suck matters the Backstage liason officer, haha... and he knows it! All in all he agrees with me, we will only start using everything to its full potential. when we have all our bases covered!
Which doesn't dissapoint me, because Kik and I agreed to take our swet time in getting everything right with the backstage before offcially opening!
Ergo, this means that most likely a few weeks after my return from The Netherlands ( sometime in may) we will have a modest soft opening, as they also call it.... and later , sometime October/November, when everything is as it should be, then we will try to stage that grand opening everybody seems to long for, haha...Question: who in the hell is "everybody"?

For myself, I most look forward to start with The Backstage and come up with a fun, entertaining and atractive little program for The Backstage, to play with its posibilities. And can only pray that with the feedback from the customers, we will get it right in the end and as such will be able to provide all of you with that entertaining home away from home.
The real challenge for us is, to create a place that not only is attractive to our foreign visitors (farang as they are called here) but also our Thai visitors and locals!

Ha, when I think about it, maybe we can allready slowly start operating in the next few days... not al the hours yet, but slowly starting up... mmm, would be a plleasant idear.....

Most potential staff members have made it clear that they would love to come and work for us BUT that they even more like to celebrate the Thai New Year, Sonkran in their respective hometowns and cities.... something we can truly understand and appreciate. For the Thai its THE holliday and only time in which they al try to go back to their families to celebrate.

So we will discover how we'll slowly start up our operation !

Sunday, 4 April 2010

"Backstage Thailand" calling for first time!

Kik checking the outsite of The Backstage, though not everything ready yet, its slowly getting there!

Back to where the gay (night)life started here on the iland of Phuket:

It won't be more then a couple of days now, till we will start operating the successor of J&B Bar, THE BACKSTAGE (purple) meeting point, here in Patong Beach on Phuket, Thailand!

The Backstage will become a small theatercafe where customers and management of The Backstage can stage allmost everything they want, from lipsing/playback, karaoke to life music, stand-up comedy and everything else what might fancy your and/or our mind! ;-)

It is also our dear wish that The Backstage will become, small as it may be, the prurple meeting point here in Patong Beach/Phuket where gay men, and their friends, from of all walks of life and from all nationalities can meet and while away from home, will feel very much at home. Where they will feel free to talk about whatever they would like to talk about with whomever they enjoy!

Together with our customers we will have to try to create just such a place, a creative home away from home!!

In the next couple of days, maybe week(s) we will try to report as much as we can around the progress of the realisation of The Backstage.
And be assured, we will leave more then enough room for you to comment on :-)))

O, and this evening, Easter Sunday, Kik and I bought 8 chairs for outdoors....we think they are cool, and once seeted it might be hard to force yourself to get up again! But ofcourse we will also buy less comfortable outdoor chairs just in case you do not like to get too comfortable!
Tomorrow we will go hunt again for indoor furniture.

Same time tomorrow work on The Backstage will continue: They wil move the aircon installation to the location Kik and I originally had chosen, haha, and as such will create the right location for the 42" TV screen.
If all goes well they also will finish work on the bathroom with showerfascilities, also for our customers when they come back from the beach (!!), paintwork, etc. and the day after the technical guys will go in and installing the soundsystem, combined with TV etc.!

All in all, when everything is finished we hope to become a small iland where our customers/friends will feel free and at home in a most pleasant surroundings in an otherwise very normal avarage little Thai street! A street which in the beginning was THE street for the gay nightlife here in Patong Beach, but then we talk about many many years ago!

Feel free to ask any question and if possible for us we will answer it here for you and all other readers to read!
And as our old J&B customers know, we will only remove reactions and pictures which are negative in mindset, BUT positive critical pieces will never be subject to such actions of removal, etc.