Most people would say that the clubbing culture in Indonesia was started in the mid 1970s with the opening of some discotheques and the rising popularity of disco-at-home events, but I would say that the Indonesian clubbing culture was actually begun in the mid 1990s.
By then, I was a highschool girl, still needing my parents’s permission to sneak out and event with my friends. I still remember the big club at the top of Blok M Plaza (then still very praised, for all the other, more luxurious malls weren’t built yet) called The M-Club, the old Retro (RIP) at the Holiday Inn Hotel (now Crowne Plaza Hotel), Lamborghini Café at the third floor of Taman Ria Senayan, BC Bar and Hard Rock Café at Sarinah Thamrin, and certainly, almost at the end of the 1990s, Stadium, the first 24/7/365 club was born.
Even though clubs started to appear everywhere, by then we still didn’t have so many choices. Some DJs were starting their rise to stardom, such as Naro, Romy, and Remy Irwan (and some other names that have all become a big brand in the present day). They were still underground, and most of them were still uncommercial. And clubbing was still considered a luxury, merely for celebrities or rich people having too much money to waste on expensive drinks and hedonistic pleasures.
People started to have wider varieties in music genres, bigger option for a venue to club, larger range of drinks (and prices, too!). More people started to get interested in clubbing.
Fastforward the positive growth a few years, now we’re at the dawn of 2007, and things have changed very much since.
Clubbing has become a trendy lifestyle for people : teens, students, young professionals, businessmen and women, celebrities – what used to occupy the third venue in the priority list, a luxury, have now become a secondary need for people to have fun.
We have not less than around 100 clubs and bars around Jakarta only – some of them the oldest, strongest players, some of them brand new. The competition has become so rude that you could see some clubs close merely a few months after the opening. Only the strongest and the best will survive – Darwin’s natural selection theory applies.
What about the DJs? Well, the finest ones are considered celebrities now, and they swim on money. They can earn from Rp 5 million to Rp 17 million for a 2-hour-gig – event the president doesn’t get paid that much! And this has created a new issue – being DJ is now a dream to many youngsters out there. Easy life it might seem, although behind the deck there’s a lot of work – work to be creative, compete to be the best, not counting the urgent need of good marketing and management team.
The largest, the richest clubs fight to get the world’s most famous DJs. The smaller ones fight on low drink prices. Every night is a event. Life is to event!
And as an economics theory says, producers fight, consumers win. This has led to a great benefit for clubbers – they can choose what they like, what they think is best – anytime they want. And their standard slowly ascends, if any international DJ had been great in the 1990s, in 2007 people are getting pickier and pickier.
Being involved as a new media in the clubbing industry since almost one year, after having been through with a decade being simple clubber, I consider clubbing now as a culture growing more and more important to Indonesian youth.
People think it’s important to spend their weekend nights to club, and even Wednesday, a day in the middle of the week, has been sacred "club night". And despite being the world’s largest religious nation, Indonesia, thank God, remains liberal enough for the nightlife matters. And what I wish to see in the next decade, is a more sane, better, healthier clubbing culture.