Oct 13

Ladies Only, Free Entrance or Pay Local Fee in Skygarden If you are a bit longer in Bali, you might notice that the whole tourism industry is based on double standards. Tourists pay more than local residents or Indonesians; as tourists seem to be loose with their money. After all it’s their holiday and they are just out to spend and to have fun.

Shops have a ‘foreigner tax’ or steep discount for locals, while some restaurants have unofficially higher pricing for tourists than for locals. Yes, you are one of those, Warung Sulawesi! ;-) There is one area though, where this system is turned upside down. Enter the nightlife and entertainment venues in Kuta, Legian and beyond:

Get the party started

The most famous nightlife area in Kuta is on Jalan Legian near the Bali Bomb Monument, around the place, where previously the Sari Club was located. On a few hundred meter-long strip of road you have (in-)famous venues with names like Eikon, MBargo, ViAiPi, Maccaroni, EngineRoom, Skygarden, Paddies, Bounty, Apache, Espresso Bar or Tavern, who feature Chart-Pop Music, Techno, RnB, Trance, Lounge or Live Music ranging from the ever-present Reggae-Tunes of Bob Marley to Jazz or Rock and Roll.

Skygarden VIP Gold Pass for Free Flow Promotions Since the closure of its sister-venue ‘Ocean Beach Club’ a bit over a year back – especially Skygarden (or 61 Legian, how the whole complex was recently renamed) is developed into one of the most favorite party spots in this area.

In a multi-level building with accessible rooftop, you can eat and dine, simply chill out or relax, dance or party the night away at one of its dozen bars and beer gardens. All that while listening to RnB music, Techno, Chart and Lounge Music and watching Shows, Fire Dancers, Sexy Bar Top Dancers in clad costumes or dancing on the many levels to different tunes.

What goes?

Every night is a special night in Skygarden, as there are daily promotions. Other Clubs are trying to follow the examples shown by Skygarden, which is truly the trendsetter here.

You can have 10K Rupiah Sambuca Shots, 25K Cocktails during 10-11pm, Free Beer Flows for 1 hour for 30K Rupiah, 25K Lychee Martinis all night -  or whatever suits your palate – the places to get drunk, cheap but very fast can certainly be found in this area.

During weekdays in Skygarden, there is even 1 hour Free Drinks and Free Fingerfood at 11pm, to get the Club full at early hours.

Bali is known for being a place with late action, most Clubs only fill up after midnight, most notoriously Doublesix Club in Legian, which recently celebrated its 23rd anniversary, but is rarely full before 2-3am in the mornings.

Who pays tonight?

So the idea behind the whole Free/Cheap Drinks thing is, to get the Clubs full as fast as possible, luring the crowds in before midnight and make them pay afterwards, when the promotions expire, but the guests are too tipsy/drunk and already in a good mood, so that they want to continue partying at all costs.

Skygarden Free Drink and Fingerfood Promotions For the Free Drink and Food Promotions, VIP Gold Passes are handed out by Promo Girls during the day at Kuta Beach or in the Streets and Jalans of Kuta. In the evening, you can grab one of those at the entrance of Skygarden for free, while stocks last. They are usually valid for a whole month.

So, if you are any Caucasian, African, Chinese, Japanese or even a Bintang-T-Shirt-wearing-drunk Aussie-Teen in Rubber-Flip-Flops, you can have one of those VIP Gold Passes and can drink and eat 1 hour or until you drop, whichever comes earlier.

Fairness on holiday?

If you look a bit too Asian, you might have to ID yourself, just to prove that you are not Indonesian. Because Indonesians can’t get a VIP Gold Pass. They can’t even get into the Club for free!

Only Indonesians have to pay 50.000 Rupiah cover charge (which usually includes 1 drink).

There is no difference, if you are dressed like the Governor of Bali or look like any other High Roller, if you are Indonesian – you pay.

Wait? You might ask, why is that? Aren’t we here in Indonesia? Tourists go for free and locals pay? Olala, that’s something new!

Of course, the omnipresent Ladies of the Night have to pay cover charge as well, there are even rumors, that they are charged additional commissions, based on the looks/style of the client, they leave a venue with. Leaving ‘empty-handed’ might even mean a loss for them that night. Psssst!  Those are of course only just rumors…. ;-)

There is one exception to the rule: Skygarden loves Ladies! So, if you are a local lady and come with an ‘international guest’, you can at least avoid the cover charge.

What do you make out of those cover charge rules? Are they okay? Are they racist? Are they to protect the standard of a club? Are locals only going there for the freebies and to staring down or scaring away the half-naked tourist ladies? Or is it maybe all to protect the business with the Kupu-kupu malam, the Ladies of the Night?

Please help us out here by voicing your opinion in the comments, let us together get closer to the truth! ;-)

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written by Chris

15 Responses to “Nightlife in Bali – Selective Fun paired with Racism?”

  1. DanaNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Personally, I’ve stopped going to Sky Garden over the double standard thing. I can understand why the entrance fee is in place, to keep the club from getting overcrowded with working girls and local guys who want to hang out there but not drink anything. What really got to me was the section of the club that locals were not allowed into. Of course if they paid another 50k they could get in, but if the local is a female she is supposed to get in for free if accompanied by a foreigner. When I asked the guy how he could do something like this to his own people, he said “do you really want a bunch of local people up there bothering and harassing you and your friends while you are trying to have a good time.”

    I for one, enjoy living in Bali and part of it is because of the local population. What is next, are locals going to be made to sit in the back of the bus until some sort of Balinese Rosa Parks comes along to change things?

  2. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Right, I agree with that, Dana! If I wanted to only jump around Western people in a club, I wouldn’t have moved to Asia. The cosmopolitan mix of foreigners and locals is what makes this place so interesting to me. Personally I prefer a 50/50 mix, or even 60/40 towards locals in a club to feel that I’m still in Bali. Maybe we should frequent ‘Blue Eyes’ in Sanur or ‘Twice Bar’ in Kuta more. ;-)

  3. DavidNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    I would not say that it is double standards it is just that the locals are not usually used to being around with girls dressed up to party, and would respond quite differently than would any westerner. So I would prefer they have some kind of filtering mechanism in place.

  4. ChrisNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    This sort of thing happens all over the world but for different reasons. In London it’s about looks and money (dressed like you’re going to spend money).

    My blog — Top London Clubs — explains about the dress code for exclusive London clubs:

    for pretty much every top club – [the dress code is] smart and fashionable! The clubs want people to look goodl

    Really if you don’t look like you belong in the venue based on your appearance then you’re not getting in the door at all, let alone paying extra.

  5. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Chris, that sounds quite reasonable and I agree that dress code plays an important role. However, here in Bali, it’s even that the locals who go party are usually better dressed than the tourists. Tourists can be of the high-roller or sleeveless-shirt-and-flip-flop wearing crowd, they still will be let in. A local in smart and fashionable attire or local ladies in a nice evening dress would still have to pay the cover charge. But you are right, it’s probably all about crowd control and selection. ;-)

  6. InaNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hey Dana and Chris, nice to meet you here :)

    Yeah, I am Indonesian, I moved to Bali 2 months ago because I’m working here now. I lived in Germany for a year and had spent my university days in Bandung, so I am new in Bali. I think Chris knows Bali wayyyyy better!!

    Sky Garden is indeed my favorite club in Legian, good music, and I am not comfortable in other clubs which is too full of ‘kupu-kupu’ girls.. :P

    Yea sometimes I feel it too, my first time I went there I was with my foreigner friends so they gave me the vip card. The next day I came with my Indo friends, they ask us to pay (and you got two beers, yea I think fair enough haha). Even if I am well dressed or dress like a tourist, they still ask me to pay. Paying is ok for me but one time, I had this vip pass and I wanted to go upstairs (I always go there) and there was this bouncer and ask ‘where do you come from?’ and I said ‘Bandung’, which is my hometown, and he just shaked his head and pushed me away with very impolite manner. I was like ‘wtf?!!!?’ so what does this vip card mean??

    Personally there are so many disappointments in Bali, before I work in Bali I flew here like twice a year for a holiday, everyone seemed polite and friendly and nice, but once you (local) people work here, they treat you differently.

    Like in Sky Garden I was asking my free flow drink in Indonesian, they said ‘no or we don’t have anymore’, but once I speak in English they just gave it!!!!!
    Sometimes when I’m sick of this local-foreigner thing, I just order drinks in English and said that I came from Singapore or Malaysia. And they don’t bother you anymore.. pfffffff

    That’s my experience.. thanks for making this article for sharing.
    And sometimes I miss partying in Bandung where most of the clubs are like, ‘no heels no entrance’.. haha!

  7. InaNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    locals are not usually used to being around with girls dressed up to party, and would respond quite differently than would any westerner

    Hihihi.. maybe those are the ‘locals’ that never been in bigger cities in Indonesia :D

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Ina, you figured out a smart way already! Just beat the system with their own bs rules. Pretending you are from a english-speaking country usually helps already, as the ‘kampung’-bouncers from Flores, Laskar or elsewhere have no idea about this strange language and don’t want to loose face. Lol! Some of my friends also got lucky with fake foreign ID’s or driving licenses.

    About 2 months ago I witnessed 3 girls who greeted the bouncers with ‘Sawadee kah!’ and pretended to not understand Indonesian at all. They were left through as being obviously from Thailand, although I found out later, they all were Indonesians working for ‘Bata‘ in Jakarta. Well done is all I can say. =D>

    The mentioned VIP Card is not actually an access card, but more of a marketing vehicle for themselves. They want you to hang it around your neck, feeling superior to everyone else and running around with it also to other clubs to make advertising for them. That’s why it comes in water-proof plastic and with a string necklace.

  9. hilyNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Hi Chris

    Yes it’s true. Not only in Bali, but it Universal facts that Tourists pay more than local usually and inspite of paying more many times they don’t get such facilities & services as compare to locals. But due to such areas where tourists are treated as VIP and gets better services & facilities,so it’s GREAT….coz such places are rarely found.

  10. richardNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I found that those double standard are suck and I m stop promoting Bali as what I used to do and I will go Phuket for my next holiday instead of bali. With my experience in Thai U have never encounter those racism. Thai people are more friendly and not as arrogant as some balinese “body guard” over here

  11. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    hily, you are right. You just have to weight the locations and decide when it’s becoming unbearable for you. But as long those are our only problems, I chose them over a steady 9-5 job any day. ;)

    richard, I found the Thais in general only more friendly on the surface. It’s hard to make real friends with Thais, while Indonesians are more genuine in general in my view. Of course, as a tourist you get ripped off like anywhere else, but if you take the time and effort to dig below the surface, you can make lifelong friendships, similar also in the Philippines. But that’s just my personal view, having lived in all 3 places for a while.

  12. BasilleaveNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    Hey Chris, great site!

    I was in Thailand last summer with my gf and i mostly hanged out with thais. i think they are very open to tourists, even though a lot of tourists are of very bad behaviour.
    i love thai people, so i just wanted to say this here, great country, great people.
    And of course i would never go to a club which excludes locals, if i wanted to be only with westerners, i don’t have to fly around the world, i could simply go to mallorca, eeek..

  13. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Basilleave, I’m glad you had a great time in Thailand. I visited twice in September and November, but only Bangkok and Phuket. I think I’m getting more and more tired of Thailand, as I can’t seem to be able to make real friends there, but merely feel seen as a walking ATM. Maybe it’s just me or the tourism really has taken its toll when it comes to friendship with Thai’s or it’s always been that way? Who knows! But I’m happy it still works for you. :D

  14. A Closer Look at Racism as it Exists in Bali UNITED STATES Says:

    […] friend over at Nomad4Ever touched on this topic a while back and I am going to expand on it a bit. Sky Garden will be used as […]

  15. americajoNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    You guys are too naive and PC. The reason why locals cant get into sg is because they are HATERS. They will come into sg and get drunk and start fights steal from westerns because we are there superiors . We the rich powerful.they the peasant.

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