My Kemang : SHARON ROSE LEASA

A body artist specializing in tattoos sheds light on the subculture

Body art became popular in Kemang in the late 1990s, with the arrival of backpackers and skateboarders who made body piercings and tattoos as common as clothing accessories. Today, Kemang is still the place to go for quality tattoos and piercings. Sharon Rose Leasa is a body modification artist at Skin Media Studio in Kemang and a member of Indonesian Subculture, a body art organization founded by Indonesian tattoo artist Ucha Cyberborg

How long have you been a tattoo artist? 
I’m not a tattoo artist. What I do is body art, which has always been my hobby, and I just happen to be into body modification, also known as piercing and tattooing. I’ve been working as a body artist for about two years, learning mostly from my friends.

Okay, so have you ever given a tattoo to anyone?
Yes, of course, I’ve tattooed many people, but I don’t do it every day. For me, tattooing is artwork. It’s another media of expression, just like paper, canvas or TV.

How do people react under the needle when you give a tatoo?
Usually someone who wants to get a tattoo kind of knows what to expect. It’s painful Photo dissy eKaPramuditabut the excitement usually tops that. Before I start the whole process, I always do a small line, to see how they react. Then I ask them if that feels alright before I continue.

Do you think a tattoo has to be meaningful?
Well, that depends on the person, but I would suggest getting something meaningful because that way you won’t get bored of it and you will have a story behind it.

So what do your tattoos mean to you?
Well, I was really close to my father when he was alive. Some of my tattoos are for him. I have his name on my right arm, and his zodiac which is a tiger on my left forearm. The flowers behind it remind me of him as well, because when I was little my dad always commented on these particular flowers.

Which part of the body is the most painful place to get a tattoo? 
On my foot, that was the most painful for me because it’s just bone. When I did the henna tattoo on my left foot, it was more of an experience to see how painful it is. I finished it, but if you look closer you’ll see it’s a bit chaotic.

Recently, your other half, Andy Besi, pierced your back and made it into a corset at a Subculture event in Kemang. Did that hurt?
Not at all, he’s a great artist and knows exactly where to pierce. In fact, I didn’t bleed at all. I believe that was the first time this was done in Indonesia.

Do you have any certain rules that you follow?
Whatever I do, there’s no limit. Once I get into something, I want to do it to the max.

What is Kemang to you?
Kemang is family. We are all family under Indonesian Subculture.

What’s Indonesian Subculture?
Indonesian Subculture is a body art community founded in 2004 by ucha Cyberborg. We started with 25 members from Jakarta, Bandung, Bali and Jogjakarta. Today, there are more than 170 members all around Indonesia, who consist of tattoo artists and body piercing artists. My group is based here in Kemang at Skin Media Studio

What’s the main purpose of the club?
Basically, we grant certification to body artists who are qualified to practice and uphold certain standards of body modification, including hygiene and safety. We also have regular events and gatherings to showcase skin art.

Do you think tattoos are becoming more acceptable in Indonesia?
In major cities they are, but in other places in Java tattoos are still unacceptable. Nowadays, tattoos are more of a fashion statement. Many public figures have made tattoos acceptable. It’s not cheap to get a tattoo so for some people it is a status symbol as well — I mean, instead of wearing a Rolex, a great tattoo is becoming an alternative.
Do you have any tips for people who want to get a tattoo?
On the day you’re getting a tattoo, make sure you are fit and sober for at least a day or two. A tattoo artist can tell if you have alcohol or drugs in your system. you tend to bleed more, and the ink color won’t be maximized.
What was the most memorable tattoo that you ever did?
One time my friend who just got out of jail, asked me to give him a tattoo, more of a symbol to start a new life, something fresh. It was an honor for me.

What other media do you use to express yourself?
I used to produced television ads and programs for Metro TV and SCTV. The first time Metro TV channel launched, they came to me for links to major music labels and exclusive one-on-one interviews with international musicians. So I did Metro Saturday Music Special and Music Blitz program for them, and I also did Kick N Rush for SCTV.

Did you ever get to interview anyone famous?
I interviewed James Hetfield from Metallica, Vanessa Mae and other international artists who came to Jakarta.

Sharon was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in Kemang Buzz

My Kemang: Sharon Rose Leasa

Picture by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

Advertisements

My Kemang: Dhiah, Clubber

Dhiah, 21, spends several nights a week clubbing in Kemang and is a regular guest at a number of venues. We caught up with Dhiah at Venue, one of her favorite clubs in South Kemang. She talked about what she loves about the nightlife in Kemang, the hottest places to party and her resolution for the new year.

How often do you hang out in Kemang?
I started coming here around four years ago. Back then I hung out in this area almost every day; lately I’ve cut it down to about three times a week (laughs).

What do you normally do around Kemang?
My night usually starts at Shisha Café, dinner at KFF (Kemang Food Fest), then off to Triple Nine, Venue, Nu China, or wherever the party’s at.

Where do you go most often?
I like to go to Venue, it’s one of my favorite places, because on Mondays it’s 50 percent off for drinks, and Wednesdays is ladies night with R&B music. I feel like I’m promoting the place now (laughs).

Do you get privileges as a regular?
Of course, but I already get special privileges just for being a lady; I’m talking about free drinks and entry on ladies night. I normally get invitations and guest list to places almost every day. And almost everywhere I go, there are people who also party as much as I do. We know each other from hanging out, so we join tables and party together.

Do you call yourself a ‘clubber’?
I don’t go clubbing to get that title or recognition. I just happen to really enjoy going out, being with friends, being around people, talking and drinking. So I think it’s an accidental status (laughs).

What’s the hottest nightclub right now?
I would say Second Floor, because they recently renovated the club and it’s packed almost every night.

Do you live in Kemang?
No, I live in Central Jakarta, behind Grand Indonesia, because it’s closer to my work place. But I would love to be in Kemang. I used to live here a few years back. It was comfortable because everything is in the area. But being away doesn’t stop me from partying here.

Why do you choose to party here, it’s so far from where you live?
It’s my second home. When you’re in the area, everything is near and convenient; the clubs, restaurants, boutiques and lounges. Everything is within a walking distance, so it’s easy to hop around.

Where do you work?
I work in public relations at After Hour Sarinah, a billiard bar in Central Jakarta. Before that I was an SPG (sales promotion girl) for a variety of products and brands.

Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from South Jakarta, born and raised, so I’m comfortable with the area and I’m not scared to go places by myself or to walk in the street.

Do you think Kemang is affordable?
Well, it depends. There are expensive places and fine restaurants, but I think there are many more places for young people and professionals that are affordable.

What do you drink when you go out?
I would like to drink my favorite liquor, Johnny Walker Blue Label, but since I can only afford Black Label, anything mixed with that will do just fine. My friends and I usually buy bottles, because it’s much cheaper at the end of the night than buying drinks by the glass.

Do you have a boyfriend?
Yes, he is a DJ at one of the clubs in the area. But I don’t go to Kemang because of him, because he plays classic disco, and I’m not really into that (laughs).

What don’t you like about Kemang?
Not being able to get a table especially when you really looking forward to go to that particular place whether it’s at the club or restaurant. Kemang is always crowded, and it happens a lot, particularly over the weekend, some places don’t take reservations.

What is your New Year resolution?
I will try to quit smoking, because lately I’m starting to feel like I’m getting short of breath. But I’m not ready to quit drinking just yet (laughs). In the beginning I wasn’t a smoker but when I’m drinking it makes me want to smoke, so it will be a challenge.

Recently the government banned smoking inside public buildings. Do you think they should regulate that for clubs?
Well it would be nice to provide an outdoor space for smokers, like a balcony or roof top. I think it’s a good idea to enforce the non-smoking law in the club, because sometimes when everyone smokes in a packed room with bad circulation, my eyes gets watery and my clothes and hair will smell like smoke when I get home.

Do you think there will ever be a “last call” for partying?
Not anytime soon (laughs). Only when I’m in mourning, like recently when my father passed away. I was sad and stopped going out for 10 days, but then I couldn’t resist wanting to go out again. I guess I can say partying is kind of like a healing process for me.

Dhiah was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in Kemang Buzz

My Kemang: Dhiah, Clubber

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Kemang: DJ Icon

Everyone knows Kemang has some of Jakarta’s best nightlife. But we’re usually not aware of those behind the scenes — the event organizers, club managers, bartenders and DJ’s, who all play a role in lighting up the party. For Muhammad Nurhadi Furqoni, a resident DJ at The Green, Kemang, known to most people as DJ Icon, it’s all about mixing work and pleasure. We caught up with him on the set one Saturday night and got a DJ’s take on work, clubs and the ups and downs of life in Kemang.

How long have you been a resident DJ at The Green?
I’ve been a DJ for four years and a resident DJ at The Green for over two years.

What inspired you to be a DJ?
I became interested in becoming a DJ mostly from the influence of friends. My parents supported my decision to become a DJ, and from there my hobby turned into a job. I learned by watching other DJs; I didn’t have a background in music before that.

How did you come up with your DJ name?
My nickname is uQon. So I changed this to Icon to make it easier for people to remember my name. And, well, I would like to be a real “icon” one day.

Can you take me through your day as a DJ?
When I wake up, the first thing I do is prepare the music for the coming night according to the theme, say a beach party, or Halloween or ladies night. I don’t practice; I normally go freestyle, because the crowd is unpredictable and I have to be able to lead the crowd as I play. Then I go in early to the club for the briefing. After that I just do what other party people do — have a beer and relax, while monitoring other DJs until it’s my turn to play.

What are your responsibilities as a resident DJ? 
As a resident DJ I have to play opening and closing for two hours a set. And sometimes in between, when the DJ provided by the event organizer plays badly, I have to take over. Before the night begins, I have to check the DJ lineup and make sure they’re qualified. Basically I’m responsible to control the quality of music and maintain it according to our style.

What type of music is “in” at the moment, especially with the Kemang crowd?
Dutch House, it’s a high-energy and pumping sound.

Is it annoying when people ask for a request?
It depends. For a special guest or friends, I have no choice (laughs). Sometimes if people request music that’s a different style from my original set, I won’t play.

So what do you like the most about being a DJ?
Getting the crowd to dance while I play and, of course, attention from the girls. It’s all about the girls [laughs].

Do you have a girlfriend?
Yes, I’m happily in a relationship.

Got any fun stories to tell about DJ-ing?
Well, once there was this girl who drank a little too much. She decided to strip and dance right next to me while I was playing. I think she was having too much fun.

What do you like most about working at The Green?
Working with the crew at The Green is very relaxing. The owner and staff are like family, so I’m very comfortable playing here. And the DJ equipment here has the latest tools.

Where else do you play?
For special events, I play at Venue, Triple 9, Second Floor. And I play out of town as well. I’m allowed to play wherever I like, with permission from the management.

What else do you do besides being a DJ?
I’m also a DJ instructor at OS DJ Studio with DJ Oky Sydney, who is one of my mentors. I teach R&B, while DJ Oky teaches progressive music.

Do you make your own songs?
I work together with DJ Oky Sydney to make re-mixes, but I haven’t produced my own songs.

What’s the best thing about living in Kemang?
I think it’s the lifestyle. Everything is happening here in Kemang, especially if you’re a nightlife person. There are a lot of events and parties, so for me it’s easier to get gigs and network if I live in the area.

How would you make Kemang a better place?
Kemang is already a great place, except for the traffic. I would suggest that party people get in the clubs before 10 pm during weekends. Normally they come at the same time, which is after midnight, and that causes traffic on Kemang Raya.

Where do you like to hang out in Kemang?
I enjoy chilling at Food Fest eating dim sum, because it’s 24 hours and I sometimes finish work at dawn.

Where do you think is the most happening place in Kemang?
Well, you know [laughs], I have to say The Green, because it’s one of the biggest clubs in Kemang, and we have one of the best sound systems.

DJ Icon was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in Kemang Buzz

My Kemang: DJ Icon

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Kemang: Tongkol, Bartender at 86

Long before drinking outdoors became trendy, the bar Lapan Anem (“86”) was already serving cold beer in the rain. Tongkol is a veteran bartender there. You wouldn’t guess that he’s pushing 40, but he puts his youthfulness down to his balance of work and pleasure. Tongkol sat at the bar with us and shared his stories, favorite drinks and his views on living and working in Kemang.

How long have you been a bartender at Lapan Anem?
I’ve been working here since they opened in 2003. At first, I was a bar back, just helping out the bartenders.

Where do you learn how to bartend?
I taught myself by watching the bartenders over the years. Learning, while drinking, because after all, I have to know the taste, right? (Laughs)

What’s your favorite drink?
I enjoy drinking beer, especially Bintang. For mixed drinks, I just like the simple and classic like Jack and Coke.

Do you have your own specialty drink?
Yeah, I call it Absolut “Tinggal” (Leaving). It’s a combination of Absolut vodka, triple sec, Midori, Cointreau, gin, tequila; pretty much everything! As you can imagine, it’s very strong, so after the drink you’re leaving consciousness. (Laughs)

Where are you from originally and where do you live?
I was born and raised in South Jakarta. Now I live in Wijaya. I’ve been living there forever, and rarely pass the south border.

What else do you do for fun, besides bartending?
I raise Bangkok chicken, and I go fishing.

Do you eat the chickens?
No, it’s for cock fighting.

What do you like about Kemang ?
There are many places to hang out, especially for nightlife. It’s been happening since I remember. Even before I worked at the bar, I would already spend most of my time in this area.

What are the changes that you’ve seen?
There are more bars and restaurants opening. The garden and outdoor concept is the new trend, it’s everywhere now. Places like Beer Garden, Bremer, Rooftop and many more, but we were the first outdoor bar, even before the new part, Splash, was renovated.

This place is like a second home to you. Why are you comfortable here?
We are all friends and my boss is very laid back, so I don’t have to go anywhere else. All of us have been working here for a long time.

Is it hard to handle drunken people?
Well, it’s always fun to take care of our customers. They do stupid things all the time. But it’s difficult to handle fights. I mean, it always happens when alcohol is involved, but we try to keep the peace.

Do you want your own bar someday?
It never crossed my mind. I just want to have a small warung by my house selling snacks and soda. That’s enough for me.

What do you think about the high-rise and construction around the area?
It’s very high; I can see it from here. (Laughs.) But I guess it’s good for the expats and tourists who’ll be staying there; after all, Kemang is their area.

What do you think about Kemang’s problems?
Well, traffic is always a problem everywhere, especially here. I would like to see them expanding the streets, if it’s possible. The roads around here are very small, while entertainment places grow.

How busy is Splash?
It’s consistent, always packed. It’s a good place to listen to music. We have a stage that we share with other outlets in here. On weekdays, you find the locals such as young professionals and students. Then over the weekend, it’s a mixed crowd, but there are many kids from international schools.

Do you guys check ID cards?
We do, but sometimes they come with their parents and they buy the kids drinks. I guess it’s a different culture than us.

What’s the drinking age in Indonesia?
I think it’s 18 (pause) or 21. Who knows? (Laughs) In here it doesn’t matter really.

How do you compete with other bars?
Well, we compete in a good way. There’s always a brotherhood among people that work at the bars, we know each other. Sometimes when the other bar is running out of liquor or beer, they come here to borrow our stock. If we have it, we will give it to them, and help them out if they are busy. And they will do the same for us.

Tongkol was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in Kemang Buzz

My Kemang: Tongkol, Bartender at 86

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Kemang: Erita, Public Relation Coordinator

When rain pours in Kemang, puddles form everywhere in no time. Erita Santosa is a Kemang resident who works for IHE Indonesia, a flood management consulting firm. As a public relations coordinator, Erita helps raise public awareness about flooding. Here she shares her views on a subject close to the hearts of Kemang residents.

How did you end up in Kemang?
I have worked at IHE Indonesia since 2008, and their office is here in Kemang.

What kind of company is IHE?
It’s a consulting firm that focuses on everything related to water. We have workshops, seminars and training programs on water and the environment.

What do you do there?
As a communications and public relations coordinator my job is to maintain networks with the media and stakeholders. I write press releases and organize press conferences to raise public awareness about flooding,

So what’s the best way to solve the flooding problem around Kemang?
I would suggest not building any more high-rises in the area. The investors in Kemang have to gather and find a solution to solve this problem before they start another construction, because the main streets that get flooded are the only access. They cannot rely on the government to do something about it.

The traffic and flooding puts many people off. So why do you think it’s still the “hip” place to be in Jakarta?
I heard about Kemang even when I was living in Jogjakarta. There is a history to this area and people talk about it. It’s an entertainment center.

What do you think about the new high-rise buildings in the area?
Personally I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think their impact has not been carefully considered. Like I said, Kemang is an entertainment center and it is an asset for tourism. I don’t think there should be any high-rise buildings in the area. The roads do not accommodate this.

What other activities are you involved in?
I enjoy doing volunteer work and being involved with social organization activities. I’ve been volunteering at Flowgi Foundation (www.flowgi.org) since 2006 as a coordinator for public relations, and I conduct social activities to enhance the education of poor children who live on the streets and in orphanages. We fundraise by doing several small projects.

Where are you from originally?
I’m from Jogjakarta. I moved to Jakarta in 2006 after the earthquake and after my father passed away.

What do you like about living in Kemang?
It’s near my office and I can walk or ride my bike anywhere. Everything is near — boutiques, spas, bars and restaurants. Everything is here. I enjoy the festivals when the streets are blocked. I also believe that Kemang is a safe neighborhood.

What don’t you like?
The wide gap between the rich and the poor. Just around the corner in the Bangka area you can still spot poverty, while on the other side is luxury. At Bangka you can still find food that costs less than Rp 10,000.

How do you get to work?
I ride my bike to work. Since we have such small streets in the area, and too much traffic, it is convenient for me to ride my bike. Unfortunately, there aren’t any proper places for me to park my bike.

Where are you on Saturday night?
I have a favorite place for Saturdays. It’s called Birdie. It’s an affordable drinking place where you can still find a cup of coffee for Rp 5,000. Or I go to Bremer to have a few beers with journalists.

And Sunday morning?
You can find me at church or at The Wall Street Institute where I study English.

Where is your favorite place to eat in Kemang?
My favorite place is a street stall in Bangka Raya that sells chap chay (mixed vegetables). I’ve been eating there since the owner had only one stall; now he has three in the area.

Erita Santosa was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in Kemang Buzz

My Kemang: Erita, Public Relation Coordinator

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

For more information on IHE, go to www.iheindonesia.com