Thai authorities denounced three teenage girls Monday who danced topless on a Bangkok street during New Year’s celebrations — underscoring the tension between Thailand’s traditionally modest culture and the country’s reputation as a sex capital. Concern was heightened by the young age of the dancers, who were found to be 14, 15 and 16 when they turned themselves in to the police Monday afternoon.
The incident occurred Friday, on the last day of the New Year’s water festival known as Songkran, not far from the world-famous Patpong Road red-light district, where live sex shows can be seen for the price of a drink and offers of sexual services to passers-by are only thinly veiled. But that freewheeling Thailand — which is often the only one many foreigners see — is at odds with a fairly conservative culture. Thai authorities have sought to promote that more modest vision of the country.
“Dancing topless during the Songkran celebrations is very inappropriate and unacceptable,” Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombut said Monday. “I assume they worked in some kind of nightclubs and got carried away by the vibe.” He said he feared foreign tourists might get the wrong idea about Thai society.