Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Dao Siam Theater - Bangkok, Thailand

On Jan Road Soi 16, deep in the heart of the Sathon area of Bangkok, stands the derelict Dao Siam Theater. Built in the early 1970's, the Dao Siam was once a bastion of entertainment in this southerly Bangkok neighborhood dominated by light industry.

Hand painted side reads:
No posting flyers on the theater!

The Siam Star Theater

proudly presents

...cinema from a first class movie theater.
(both Thai and foreign)
Showing something for everybody
(The last line I'm not 100% confident I'm translating correctly)

Contrary to the advertised claim of being a "first class movie theater," everybody in the neighborhood I spoke to said that even in its heyday the Dao Siam was a second-run theater. That makes sense, since the majority of stand-alone theaters outside of central Bangkok were second-run theaters. In its final few years it turned to porn for revenue. It is a pretty imposing building, however, and I'm sure that back in the day it was a decent place to catch a film.

The working stuff of local vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers hung up on the Dao Siam's front gate.

Old poster case in the lobby; "Showing today"

The Dao Siam Theater, a quintessential Bangkok neighborhood theater, was one of two movie theaters within a few hundred meters of each other. The other has since been torn down and replaced by an open-air fresh market. Sathon district, particularly the southern half, is home to numerous factories and tenement-like buildings. In its prime the locals used to made good use of the Dao Siam Theater - once a fine place to unwind after a hard days work at the factory.

The Dao Siam Theater has been closed for nearly 10 years.


David Carradine

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