Hubert Burda Media

Man About Town: Sanya Souvanna Pouma

Born into the royal family of Laos, life had made other plans for Sanya Souvanna Pouma.

Sanya Souvanna Pouma; Photographed by Virunan Chiddaycha

This profile was published in Prestige’s September 2015 issue.

Sanya Souvanna Pouma is one of the most influential figures on Bangkok’s nightlife scene. He was the man behind arguably the most iconic nightclub the city ever produced, Bed Supperclub, which garnered international acclaim before it closed in 2013. He also teamed up with renowned interior designer Ashley Sutton to bring us the illustrious Maggie Choo’s and, more recently, Sing Sing Theatre – a bold, brash and striking concept reminiscent of a retro Shanghai nightspot that immediately became one of the city’s hottest clubs. He speaks to us about his career, family and life.

 On balancing work and home…

 “It is an interesting time in my life right now,” he says. “My desire is to step away from the nightlife thing. It requires an incredible amount of work and commitment. The problem is that I am associated with all of my venues. So if you went to Bed Supperclub you would expect to see me there. Same with Quince and Maggie Choo’s. It is hard to find the right balance between having an occasional drink with friends or being incredibly social each and every night.”

A scion of Lao royalty…

Sanya’s air of refinement can be at least partly attributed to his prestigious upbringing. Although born in Bangkok, he is a scion of Lao royalty. His father is a Lao prince while his grandfather Souvanna Phouma was the prime minister of the landlocked country several times between 1952 and 1975 when the communist Pathet Lao overthrew the monarchy. With his family fleeing to exile in France, Sanya spent his formative years in Paris, attending the posh Janson de Sailly high school before attending business school.

On attending Janson de Sailly high school…

“I absolutely hated it,” he recalls ruefully. “So I dropped out to live the bohemian dream, hanging around museums, learning about culture and generally having a good time. That was much more my style.”

Making his mark on Bangkok’s nightlife…

The modest Sanya does not go as far as saying it out loud, but his role in this evolution is significant. As creative director of the iconic Bed Supperclub on Sukhumvit Soi 11 he booked some of the globe’s top DJing talent as well as pioneering acts such as jazz legend Billy Cobham. In fact with its bold architecture, its constant efforts to bring in big names and its edgy artistic performances and eccentric leftfield tinges, it was unlike anything Bangkok had ever seen before. The venue closed in 2013, but left an indelible mark on the city’s nightlife scene. And, hints Sanya, a resurrection is not out of the question.

“A lot of people have asked me if we will reopen Bed,” he says. “I think we could but it would be a really big adventure. It would require lots of determination and focus. Also I don’t think it would be workable with just one branch in Bangkok. That would make it difficult to attract investment. We’d really have to look at the rest of Asia as well.

“I’m very proud of what we did at Bed. We brought in a better calibre of DJs, local and international. Other places are doing it at that level these days, but it is either very big or very small. We hit the sweet spot in terms of size and atmosphere.”

On working with Ashley Sutton…

“Working with Ash is fun, challenging and unconventional,” says Sanya. “He demands control and he doesn’t do things by the book. There are no detailed plans or anything like that. It is inspired and on the hoof which makes it unpredictable. But we have enough common sense and expertise around the table to fine tune along the way.”

On loving his path in life…

“This is what I love doing and why I would find it difficult to give up,” he says. “I use my job as an excuse to do interesting stuff. I get a thrill from bringing great artists to my venues. That’s what is really exciting. I get a kick out of seeing people enjoying themselves.”