Goodnight, sweet cosmic prince
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Goodnight, sweet cosmic prince

It’s never easy saying goodbye, permanently or temporarily.

The long-standing indie bar, Cosmic Cafe, tucked in the mainstream, EDM-infested strip of RCA, is saying goodbye to its charmingly rundown locale. Tomorrow will be the last of Cosmic Cafe as we know it.

“We’ve been here for the past eight years, and we feel that it’s time for a change,” said owner Kong Suvarnapradip. “We’re planning to move to the Ekamai and Thong Lor area. We’re most likely to be back in business next year.”

OK, it’s not goodbye, goodbye. But I still can’t help but lament the fact that a vivacious lone wolf in Bangkok’s stagnant nightlife and music scene is coming to an end. Even though it’s only changing locations, the elements of Cosmic Cafe that we’ve come to love dearly will more or less be buried, as the move will alter the atmosphere and clientele, no matter how hard we try to maintain the good ol’ days. That’s what change does. It’s as simple as that.

Some might say Cosmic Cafe is just a bar. Losing it is not exactly like a family member kicking the bucket (knock on wood), but to me, and (I’m sure) many other regulars, it can be compared to your best friend moving abroad. It’s something to be sentimental about, even if others scoff at the thought.

I don’t want to compare Cosmic Cafe to the likes of Hacienda or CBGB, due to their different scales and times in which they operated. The calibres might differ, but the feeling of loss remains just as intense.

For the past eight years, Cosmic Cafe has stuck out like a sore thumb on the RCA strip, as most of the watering holes there cater to mainstream, robotic clubbers who do not really care what kind of music is playing, so long as the girls wear skimpy clothes and the boys have something to ogle. It’s the only place in RCA that doesn’t have a proper sound system, full service and plush furniture. There is no air con. The toilets look like a war zone on their good days. Staff sometimes forget your order, and the tables are ready to collapse with a slight push.

But the music policy over the years has never faltered or bent to please the masses or fit the trends. Cosmic Cafe has always stuck with indie and underground music — rock, jazz, reggae, dance and whatever else is deemed worthy of a chance to hopefully gain an inch of traction with nightlife warriors.

It’s given a chance to alternative promoters, and has never turned down experimental events, even when it’s more than obvious that they won’t pull in a crowd. Cosmic Cafe is like a blank canvas on which anyone who dares can showcase their differences and musical tastes. The list of its creative events would take days to read, forever to compile.

To me, the most important factor of Cosmic Cafe’s existence is that it’s continuously acted as a breeding ground for young musicians. There is always room for new bands on its stage — as long as they have that certain something. Now-established acts such as The Jukks, Polycat and Tabasco have at one time or another been Cosmic Cafe’s house bands, playing there every weekend. These groups mastered their craft and showmanship at Cosmic Cafe, learning to play with the same energy and passion every night, whether it was to a large crowd or to two people.

“We didn’t exactly become millionaires when we were a house band at Cosmic,” said Kan, The Jukks’ vocalist, who is still a regular. “But what we got in return was more than we could ever ask for.
When we were struggling, before even getting signed, Cosmic Cafe gave us a chance, a platform to reach out to a new audience. I think we were loud and annoying at times, especially when there weren’t many people and we still played three-chord punk songs at the highest volume!”

The state that Cosmic Cafe is in might not help convince you when I say that this is the place where you’ll meet the most creative, craziest and weirdest people of Bangkok. You see rich kids mingling with poor students, well-known musicians trying to pick up struggling conceptual artists,. and graphic designers disagreeing over issues of “referencing” or “copying”.

Everyone knows everyone, but newcomers are always welcome.

On a personal level, Cosmic Cafe is where I’ve made lifelong friends, resurrected wilting relationships and cemented existing ones. It’s where I’ve picked fights and put SangSom bills on tabs when I was broke. Just like a best friend, I have my ups and downs with Cosmic Cafe. And just like a best friend, I’ll be forever grateful to it, even if I don’t always act like it.

We can only hope that the new Cosmic Cafe will be able to retain its legacy and open-mindedness, as well as foster new talent. We’ll just have to wait and see.

But for the time being, let us mourn.

Goodbye Cosmic Cafe, you shall forever be remembered and loved.

Onsiri Pravattiyagul writes about music and popular culture for Life.

Onsiri Pravattiyagul

Entertainment Editor

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