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Entertainment & Nightlife in Indonesia


Dancing is considered an art, encouraged and practiced from very early childhood, and dances are based on ancient legends and stories from religious epics. Dances include the Legong, a slow, graceful dance of divine nymphs; the Baris, a fast moving, noisy demonstration of male, warlike behavior; and the Jauk, a riveting solo offering by a masked and richly costumed demon. Many consider the most dramatic of all to be the famous Cecak(Monkey Dance) which calls for 100 or more very agile participants. Larger hotels, particularly in Bali, put on dance shows accompanied by the uniquely Indonesian Gamelan Orchestras.

Throughout the year, many local moonlight festivals occur; tourists should check locally. Indonesian puppets are world famous and shows for visitors are staged in various locations.

Pasar Seni in Ancol showcases live gamelan music, dangdut (Indonesian pop music with a strong Indian influence) and occasional cultural performances. The annual arts festival at the Jakarta Arts Building presents one with a superb opportunity to see world-class dance, music and theatre performed by local and foreign artists.

Jakarta nightclubs feature international singers and bands. Jakarta has many cinemas, and some English-language and subtitled films are shown.


Jakarta is a fascinating city of wide contrasts, a melting pot of cultures from across the Indonesian archipelago and beyond. It therefore comes as no surprise that you can find a wide range of entertainment to suit most tastes, from cheap and cheerful bars in Jalan Jaksa to expensive nightclubs where Jakarta's flashy young and urbane hang out. Plush cinemas in modern, air-conditioned shopping malls screen the latest Hollywood blockbusters, as well as Indonesian films and the occasional Hong Kong kung fu movie. For more highbrow options, check out the regular traditional Indonesian performances such as wayang kulit(shadow puppet shows) and gamelan (traditional Javanese) music, in addition to Western art forms such as classical music and ballet.

Jakarta may be the capital of the world's largest Islamic country, but it has underground life of its own. If you're the clubbing type, its nightlife is arguably among the best in Asia. From the upscale X-Lounge to the seediest discos like Stadium, Jakarta caters to all kinds of clubbers, but bring a friend if you decide to brave the seedier joints (though they tend to have the best DJs). Fans of live music, on the other hand, are largely out of luck if they go to budget bars, at least unless they're into Indonesian pop.

A nightlife district popular among expatriates is Blok M in South Jakarta, or more specifically the single lane of Jalan Palatehan 1 just north of the bus terminal, packed with pubs and bars geared squarely towards single male Western visitors. Blok M is now easily accessible as the southern terminus of BRT Line 1. For a more off-the-beaten track experience, head a few blocks south to Jalan Melawai 6 (opposite Plaza Blok M), Jakarta's de-facto Little Japan with lots of Japanese restaurants, bars and karaoke joints.

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