In the sweep of Bangkok’s nightlife, RCA remains one of the areas that defies easy categorization. Certainly, it has never been completely colonized by ex-pats the way certain pockets along Sukhumvit have been. But nor is it rigidly Thai, like many slick Thong Lor spots or rowdier clubs further afield. Instead, RCA remains a broad church, a long line of venues that, combined, offer a range of choices. And that, to an extent, is the key to its enduring appeal.
Perhaps the best-known of these venues is Route 66, a labyrinthine hybrid of club, lounge and live music venue. It is several rungs above the boxy bars elsewhere on RCA but has a more laid-back feel than many of the excessively swanky outlets. On a Saturday night, the outdoor area at Route 66 attracts the biggest crowds of any of the venues along RCA, so clearly this happy medium remains an attractive proposition to a diverse mix of people.
RCA is divided roughly into thirds. On the left, there is the band room where some impressively accomplished bands, generally Thai three- or four-pieces outfits, rotate through in rapid sets. The set list leans heavily on Thai pop tunes, which is another refreshing departure from the clubs and bars where 20-year-old Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams tracks still get a workout.
It is in this band room that visitors start to notice some of the charming little design touches – the vintage fire pumps in one corner and LCD lighting that instead of being over-the-top is employed to more low-key effect, creating a wall of fairy lights rather than a solar flare.
Of course, it’s not all so demure. The middle section is a proper dance floor, lit up like a Christmas tree or a neon mirror ball. That’s not a criticism – quite the opposite. If anything, it is a testament to Route 66’s versatility as a venue.
The far right section comprises the DJ lounge, the back wall lined with sofas, the center holding a forest of tables with a raised booth towering over all. It lacks the charm of the band room but the harder edge is undoubtedly part of its appeal.
Even as venues come and go along RCA, Route 66’s pitch remains the same: different nightlife combined under one roof, delivered with enough flair to suggest it will remain at the center of this neighbourhood for a while yet.
Block A, RCA | 02-203-0936 | route66club.com | 8.30pm-2am