A (Quite) Good ‘Jakarta Entertainment Guide!’

I went to a party in a posh hotel last week, not something I tend often to do, and one of the other guests gave me a copy of a new ‘Jakarta Entertainment Guide.’ So I decided to review it.

Certainly it’s very well-organised, divided up into the various areas of Jakarta, North, South, West and East ( the last-named part having two whole pages, out of 245 in the book- an indication of where not to bother going in our wondrous metropolis) and it’s in English. It also has little maps, which ought to help if you get terribly lost after over-indulging at any of the night-spots mentioned!

But there are several curious omissions, not least in the Blok M and Sarinah areas.

The Sportsman, and Top Gun too, are rightly included, both busy bars on Jalan Falatehan, next door to Blok M Terminal. Top Gun is correctly identified as a ‘girly bar,’ and there are indeed many girlies there as a rule. Sportsman, or Spam, as it is oddly nick-named, is a very good place to meet friends to discuss serious matters, as it is not a girly bar. Girls don’t usually get in unless escorted by blokes.

 Jalan Falatehan

But what about D’s Place, My Bar, Highway to Elle, or, especially, Oscar Pub, a real veteran of a bar, all in the same street. Not all of them are everyone’s cup of tea – I couldn’t be bothered with one of them, like another, and am indifferent to the others, but they are just as deserving of attention as Spam and TG.

And BTW, if TG is a girly bar, then the same can be fairly said of BATS at Shangri-La, or Tiga Puluh at Le Meridien – except that the moxies on the make in those places are a lot more expensive investments as a rule! Buying a beer, or even a ‘girly’ Coke, can cost twice as much as many other places in town!

And moving northwards, we find Afterhour and Chili’s, beside Sarinah on Jalan Wahid Hasyim, both popular and pleasant places, but what’s happened to The Embassy and Baku Dapa, two fun bars with live music just down the road from the afore-mentioned joints?


They are two nightspots where you can meet real Indonesians and enjoy real Indonesian music. But they aren’t in this book. They’re hard to miss, but they’re missing.  

And does Jalan Jaksa not exist any more? I know it’s gone downhill a lot, gentrification taking its weary toll –  but if you want to find good Malay-style food at very fair prices, KL is the place to go. 

 - The restaurant - we eat on the pedestrian pathy, yes!:) 

No doubt other Jakarta  fans can point to more bars and discos…for example, I can’t see Lone Star or any Belora dangdut bars, but I don’t know all their names, so maybe some have made it in.

So why? Just too many to make the book comprehensive, or a slight bias towards the cool, cash-heavy crowd?  There may be a clue in the bizarre conclusion to the Jaya Pub’s entry. ,,‘no up-scale, dressed-to-the-nines folk.’

 Well, the absence thereof would lead me to go there (and I do, now and then) having little or no time for trendy, show-off bores. But one hopes the missing bars are not excluded just because they don’t tend to cater for the snooty crowd.

But maybe I’m wrong. The publishers included The Stadium, and if they regard that disco, favoured by those who crave ecstatic happiness, as Within the Pale, they can’t be terribly fussy!

And I see that Burger King is in but Mcdonalds is not.  Everyone to their own taste, but why the one and not the other? I actually prefer BK but even so.  The new and vastly improved Golden Arches at Sarinah has a great balcony for watching the world go by.

So go out and buy it, despite the all too numerous linguistic lapses, misprints and/or spelling errors – the English is always understandable, if at times a little stilted, and apparently it’s a mere Rp.85,ooo in the book-shops.

It will keep you busy trying all its suggestions, and by the time it is due for a re-print, perhaps their editorial staff will have improved their English. I’ll even volunteer my editorial services if they fund a research trip round some of the hang-outs they missed this time!