Thailand's party scene set to resume after royal mourning

A woman dressed in black holds an image of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of the Grand Palace as mourners continue to gather there to pay respects to the late monarch in Bangkok on Oct 30, 2016.
A woman dressed in black holds an image of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in front of the Grand Palace as mourners continue to gather there to pay respects to the late monarch in Bangkok on Oct 30, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) - Thailand's party scene may get back into gear in a fortnight after a shutdown to mourn the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the junta suggested Tuesday (Nov 1).

The death of 88-year-old Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct 13 thrust a country renowned for its colourful nightlife into profound mourning.

Thais have donned black, soap operas have been pulled from television schedules, festivals cancelled and the music even turned down at Bangkok's seedier bars - with go-go dancers swapping the usual garish bikinis for sombre black outfits.

But the junta leader signalled that nightlife may soon be allowed to creep back - along with cultural celebrations, concerts and the beloved soap operas - when a 30-day initial mourning period ends on Nov 14.

"Television will return to normal," Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters, albeit warning actors to dress demurely on screen and remain "polite" befitting the national mood.

In a nod to a relaxation on restrictions on nightlife he said: "Thailand is a country of tourism", adding discussions were continuing over the loosening of controls on indoor and outdoor venues.

A government official said later nine types of events and venues would operate as normal, including nightclubs, pubs and bars.

 

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Cultural celebrations, fairs, sporting events and concerts can also be restored to the calendar after a month-long suspension, according to an official citing the Prime Minister's office.

It was not immediately clear how that will play out with each local police force likely to enforce their own rules as the national mood lightens.

Neither is the return of the famed "Full Moon" beach party confirmed.

The junta has sought to balance respect for the venerated late king, who was the world's longest reigning monarch, with keeping the country open for business.

The main tourist season is about to get into full swing and analysts have warned that any protracted clampdown on the party scene could drive visitors away.