Last Saturday, due to a lease non-renewal, Linga Bar danced its last dance at the site where it’s operated for almost ten years, the site that has seen it through Pub Street’s early quiet years, through open sewers being dug in front of its door, various floodings, and a visit from Ricky Martin in March, 2008.
Ricky Martin openly declared his homosexuality in 2010 and Linga Bar’s Facebook page reported, “We could have told you this, after Ricky Martin visited Linga Bar on a trip to Siem Reap a couple of years ago. Then again, what happens at Linga stays at Linga!”
Venue owner Martin Dishman said he was sad the bar was closing, but added, “You know, change is good, and I’m really looking forward to re-opening again with a different look and feel, and who knows what will happen after that.”
When Linga Bar originally opened, there were few options for going out in town, and no gay options at all. Pub Street was still a dirt road, more commonly known as “Cat Piss Alley” because that was the dominant smell relative to the wind.
The opening night, though, was not entirely as Dishman had planned. “We were supposed to be a chilled-out gay bar, but 90 per cent of the people who came were straight,” he laughed.
“I had planned on creating a chilled out, laid back kind of scene, but it just turned into this total blow-out party that night.”
Linga Bar always maintained its party vibe, and its birthday and Halloween parties were highly celebrated. It also became the home of Siem Reap’s first ladyboy revue, which was a huge hit.
But you can’t keep a good linga down, and Dishman says that a ‘new’ bar sans shows will operate in the Hotel Be lobby. Later this month it will also extend to the back of the McDermott Gallery next door to the hotel.