Night Life in Jakarta:
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Night Club / Live Band
A number of venues have live bands entertaining their guests. Sometimes it is a local band or many times the venue will contract a band from overseas for a 2 or 3 month period. They not only sing a variety of pop hits but also have a great performance routine that is part of the show. In most cases the group will have an agreement to do 3 sets throughout the evening ranging from 45 minutes to one hour. The live music can be expected to start at 9:00 or 10:00 pm and will continue past midnight. In between the live performances often an in-house DJ will fill in to keep the atmosphere upbeat and alive. Generally speaking show bands will be performing on the weekends, however there will be one day during the week, normally Monday, that they will not perform.
Some of the best venues to see a great live performance are: Immigrants in Plaza Indonesia, Hard Rock Café at Pacific Place, Potato Head Garage in SCBD, Bats at the Shangri-la Hotel, and CJ’s at Hotel Mulia.
Night Life / DJ
If you like to dance and party to the latest hits there are also great clubs that have a DJ and use recorded music. These venues are extremely busy on Friday and Saturday nights and often the crowd does not really start to show up until 11:00 pm. X2 Equinox in Plaza Senayan, and Red Square in the Arcadia have a large expat clientele. Many Indonesians prefer to go to the very large Blowfish or Dragon Fly to meet up with their friends.
Restaurant and Lounge
If dancing is not for you, however you like to go out for a nice meal and continue on with drinks later into the evening, Jakarta as many choices. There are many restaurants and lounges where the kitchen is open for dinner and will call for “last order” at 10 or 10:30pm. After the “last call” normally a much smaller selection of light snacks will be available to compliment the cocktails that will continue to be served into the morning hours.
Loewy at Mega Kuningan has wonderful signature cocktails, as does Potato Head at Pacific Place. Some venues that are more centrally located in Grand Indonesia are Social House and Paulaner Brauhaus that offers wonderful German food at their restaurant and an extensive selection of beer that is appreciated by their European clientele.
Salt Grill, located in the Plaza, has a fabulous view of the city from the 46th floor and the menu and cocktails are equally impressive. Nip and Dram, which was renovated in 2016, located in the Landmark Building, offers a casual setting for people that want to meet up after work or wait out the rush hour before heading home. For a wonderful Italian menu you might want to try Luna Negra situated on the ground floor of Plaza Bapindo and of course as you might expect in an Italian restaurant, you will find a good selection of wine. For those that are looking for a location in the south end of Jakarta, try out Park 19 in the Kemang area. Good food and an enjoyable atmosphere after the kitchen has closed make it popular not only with the expat crowd but also Indonesians.
Roof Top Lounge
Over the past couple of years, with the completion of numerous high-rise buildings, Jakarta has seen a number of roof top lounges open. These venues are taking advantage of the spectacular views of the surrounding neighborhoods or in some cases breathtaking views of the entire city to create a lovely atmosphere to meet up with friends over cocktails. Many patrons like to come to a rooftop lounge before the sun goes down to watch the sunset and watch the lights of the city come on.
Skye in Wisma BCA, Altitude and The Cloud located on the top floor of the Plaza will make the trip to downtown Jakarta worthwhile. La Vue located in the Heritage Hotel in Menteng, although lacking the altitude of other locations, has a cozy atmosphere making it popular not only with hotel guests but a favorite destination on the weekend for many other patrons as well. K22 has a breezy outside setting and The View, which are both located on the 23rd floor of the Fairmont Hotel, offer a surprising vast view of the city as well of the Senayan Golf course located across the street. For a totally relaxing atmosphere either one of these venues will give you a reason to come back to the Fairmont.
Sometimes if you just want to meet up with friends and be able to have a conversation over soft background music, one of the many lounges in Jakarta can provide a relaxing atmosphere. Vin+, located not only in Arcadia but also in PIM 3 and Kemang Raya, is always an easy choice. Union with locations in Senayan and PIM 3 are also great places to order your favorite cocktail and catch up with friends. The menu at Union has a large selection of international dishes. Make sure you save room for dessert, as their cakes are irresistible. Be aware, however, that you might be given a time limit at your table, so don’t plan on staying for too many hours. For a great atmosphere check out Shy on the top floor of the Papilion Building located just across the street from Ranch Market in Kemang. A newer, more central location is The Den of Kalaha located in the Sommerset Grand Citra. The casual décor and the view of the pool has established them as a great place to meet friends after work or just stop by on the weekend.
Pub / Bar / Sports Bar
Regardless of where expats are posted in the world, they continue to be loyal fans to their favorite sports teams. The access to sports channels at popular venues means that fans will not have to miss a game while overseas. Watching the game while sharing a beer is possible because at all the sports bars, or pubs that have large screen TVs positioned throughout the venue.
Aphrodite and Eastern Promise continue to be long time favorites, however fans that are more centrally located in the city can stop by Café De Burse in the Equity Tower across from Pacific Place. For sports fans that work or live in the south end of Jakarta, Die Stube, in Pondok Indah as well as Satu Lagi are great venues to share the excitement of a football match with friends or a cold beer after work.
Murphy’s Pub or Mad Dog offer an Irish and English pub atmosphere respectively and have a huge selection of beer for those who enjoy “a cold one”. Jaya Pub and Tavern are two venues that have been serving drinks for more than two decades. Loyal customers keep coming back not only for the drinks but enjoy the atmosphere that is partly the reason for their longevity on the bar scene.
Jazz enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that there are also venues in the city where you can go to hear live Jazz on any night of the week. Cotton Club, located in the Fairmont Hotel, books local talent and also some very well-known international jazz musicians. Black Cat at Arcadia is always popular, not only for its central location, but for the great jazz played there. Prohibition is also a recommended destination and the entrance to the venue is very in keeping with the time in U.S. history that the name of the lounge is inspired from. It is certainly worth the trip not only for the décor but also the great jazz music.
To address some practicalities, night life in Jakarta does tend towards the pricey end, for local living standards at least. In general, dress codes are strictly enforced in most bars and clubs in the city: dress sharply, or at the very least smart casual and definitely no shorts or slippers. During Ramadan, the holy Muslim fasting month, all nightlife ends at midnight and some operations close for the entire month. The selection of alcohol sales may be limited during the month and it may be served in a coffee mug.
When going out clubbing in Jakarta, be aware that a fairly high number of working girls, known in local parlance as “ayam”, congregate in certain bars, so much so that many "non-ayam" female clientele often get mistaken for being on the take. So be careful when going out as a female in the city; it's always go in groups. Foreign men are a popular target and it is not normally much of a deterrent to the working ladies even if the men arrived with a date.
Regardless of what type of nightlife you enjoy there is an endless selection to explore during your posting in Jakarta. Be adventurous and explore some of the recommendations above to discover your next favorite venue.
Last updated April 7, 2016
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