Heed the cosmic call of dark DJ nights once again at iconic Thonglor dive bar 12×12, which is back in full swing after being saved from oblivion by new owners.
A group of five Thai and expat friends who bonded through their love of Bangkok’s nightlife have revived the cozy venue thought lost to COVID’s cold, infectious claws and bring it back as charming as ever.
“It really started as a joke,” recounted Nico Franchi, one of the quintet responsible for the club’s relaunch. “We were all like ‘Let’s take it over!’ I think I can say that all five of us are handy and full of resources, and so later we were like ‘Yeah why not?’”
In September, original owner Hiroshi Matsui cited the COVID crunch for throwing in the towel after seven years and moving back to Japan.
“We knew Hiroshi pretty well, and so he handed us the key, and we had a look at what we could do,” the Frenchman said.
Two months on and veterans of the underground music community have returned to the bar’s decks Wednesday through Saturday nights.
Longtime fans might fear new ownership would bring stark changes to a bar which owed its homey vibe to worn wooden floors and a boheme aesthetic that leaned “shabby chic.”
In other words, not 12×12. But the new owners cared about preserving Matsui’s legacy, keeping the vibe and energy the same.
“We can’t lose this place, the music community of Bangkok cannot lose this place,” Franchi said. “It’s something we have to keep for everyone, for Hiroshi’s legacy. He’s worked so long for that place.”
Just last week, The Outsider, Krit Morton, and DJ duo Soi Dogs presided over an otherworldly journey of audio bliss.
Of course, just like the glory pre-COVID days, the bar is still prone to all the ire that would come with its location such as noise complaints from neighbors and regular patrolling of the boys in brown.
And with the current situation, they have to deal with the current COVID restrictions regarding alcohol sale, set times, and limited capacity.
Now, attendees must take ATK tests prior to entry. And a happy hour runs 5pm to 7pm to encourage partygoers to get an earlier start and maximize their limited hours on the small dancefloor.
As 12×12 continues its weekly round of eclectic sounds and good vibes all around, the bar owners remain optimistic and hopeful for the bar’s future.
“We hope that we can open later. That’s number one priority,” Franchi said. “The second is that the identity doesn’t change. We want to keep going as it was before and even better. We are lucky to be surrounded by some of Bangkok’s creative talents in the underground scene.”
Tomorrow night, Krit Morton returns to play, followed by a Friday night bash for Franchi’s birthday and some Saturday night funk.
12x12, 810, 22 Thara Rom 2, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana. Open Wed-Sat 5pm-late.