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It's safe to say that Bangkok comes with a bit of a reputation. You tell someone you live in Bangkok and their immediate follow-up questions involve ping pong shows, ladyboys and the red light district. The truth of the matter is these after-dark attractions do not factor into most people's lives, Thais or foreign expats. In an effort to have a taste of the stereotype, we headed to Calypso Cabaret to spend an evening sipping bad cocktails at one of the infamous ladyboy shows.
Calypso lived up to its hype and what ensued was an absolute hoot. The one-hour show was packed and far less dodgy than we had anticipated; in fact it's downright respectable. As the website promised there were feathers and long legs galore as well as a whole lot of lip-syncing, everything from Broadway standards to Korean pop.
Calypso also happens to come with some history. Running since 1988, it's well established, some would say legendary, in the Bangkok nightlife scene. What’s refreshing about this show is that you get a taste of the famed Thailand after dark without the seediness of Nana or the depressing side of Patpong. We'd even venture to say that Calypso is somewhat family friendly. All the performers stay relatively clothed and we kid you not, there was a baby in the audience.
The performances range from hilarious to ho-hum, but the over-the-top evening never takes itself too seriously. After the show, stick around to take photos with the performers, although do be prepared for them to look better than you. Reservations recommended.
Update: The author of this article saw the show at its old venue, Asia Hotel. In 2012 it moved to a grand new theater at the Asiatique night bazaar, sharing space with the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre.
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