The Jogja Clubbing Experience

14 Feb

Some Southeast Asian nations have reputations for their nightlife. Bangkok is famous for its wild clubs just like the party islands of South Thailand. I’ve been to bars in Jakarta which are pretty crazy but when a few friends (Australians studying in Jogja) suggested we check out a few Jogja night clubs I couldn’t resist. The image of Jogja is not one that lends itself to clubbing with the ever present call to prayer from the mosques and traditional Javanese culture. Little did I know I was going to be in for a massive surprise.

We met up at 11 which was incredibly late by Indonesian standards at a Café near one of the big universities, there was a massive group of people from my university back home who had been having a farewell celebration for one of their friends. Massive coincidence number 2 of the trip occurred when I heard someone call my name only to run into someone from Sydney who I met at Uni Games way back in my first year of university and hadn’t seen since. A few beers and an introduction to the card game hitam atau merah (black or red) got the night off to a good start before we piled into a bunch of taxis to take us to a few clubs out near the airport.

When we got there it was madness. We paid the cover charge (55 000 Rp inc 1 drink) and were let into the smoky club (which was actually 2 clubs joined together). Slowly moving through the packed club I was shocked to get into the second bar where we saw paid dancers grinding around in very little clothing (read underwear) up on the stage. Now this is just your standard night club not anything intentionally seedy but this is something I wouldn’t expect in Australia let alone in the middle of Java! I should say from what I’ve been told this isn’t a common occurrence in other clubs. Then we ordered some drinks (which were ridiculously expensive- we only ordered one round) more shocking was when I tried ordering a bottle of water and they charged me 35000 Rp for a 300ml bottle as opposed to the 1.5 litre bottle I bought on the way home for 3100 Rp. We had a bit of a dance alternating between the two clubs and hung out on the lounges before heading home just shy of 4am.

The one thing I found a bit scary about the clubs here was the complete lack of Responsible Service of Alcohol which is such a big deal in Australia. It’s not surprising that this doesn’t exist in a country where drinking is done by a minority, due to religion and it being super expensive, and somewhat frowned upon (for Indonesians not so much bules) but seeing paralytic Indonesians dragged out of the club unconscious and being bundled into cars was shocking. There was no help whatsoever from the bar staff or bouncers while we watched and a complete lack of understanding of what to do in that situation by the general patrons. It’s barely surprising when you see people swigging from bottles of spirits in the clubs. I won’t deny that I like to drink when I go out with my friends but I’m just glad that my friends and I have been taught what to do to help someone in that situation (standard lesson in PE in high school) and that clubs have the legal responsibility to prevent that from happening.

That aside, I had an awesome night. I wouldn’t say Jogja is my favourite place to go clubbing compared to places in Thailand or even Canberra but it truly was an interesting experience and we had a great group of people out with us so it was definitely fun. I wouldn’t say no to going again but I think I might stick to the chilled out bars of the backpacker district from now on.


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