Petromak: Blast from the Past

A new resto boasts retro feel and hipster appeal | The new Petromak cafe shines a light on Indonesian comfort food and unique takes on classic dishes

Petromak, a new restaurant at La Codefin, features a retro Indonesian concept that has created a buzz among Kemang hipsters since it opened in May. Owned by a group of Indonesian actors and actresses — Baim Wong, Lukman Sardi, Ririn Dwi Ariyanti and Ririn Ekawati— the restaurant is named after petromak lights, the traditional Indonesian oil lamps that were used in villages before the arrival of electricity service and are still commonly used today by street vendors and fishermen.

The semi-outdoor restaurant has a modern interior with a traditional feel. There are mini-petromak lights on the ceiling and tables, along with gerobak (food wagons) that offer ice cream and other deserts.

The Petromak menu offers a varied selection of main dishes — from burgers and steaks such as Johnny Wong Steak, blue cheese sirloin steak and honey dijon salmon steak, as well as an Italian pasta section featuring fettuccine alfredo and spaghetti with mushroom or meat sauce. In the Indonesian corner, you’ll find Petromak fried rice, buntut bakar, gado-gado and traditional rice wrapped in banana leaves, such as nasi pedas, nasi ulam, and nasi liwet bakar.

The main specialty dish at the restaurant is the Johnny Wong Steak, a sirloin steak with mushroom sauce. (Priced at Rp 99,000, it is the most expensive entrée in the menu.) The steak is served with rice and sweet soy sauce on the side.

“My tongue is very Indonesian, so normally, I’m not too crazy about steak. However, I have to say the steak at Petromak unlike any other,” said Irma, a customer who is a Kemang regular.

The fried rice is not like the ordinary fried rice you’ll find elsewhere either. At Petromak, the fried rice has a slightly yellow color, similar to nasi kuning (a traditional yellow rice dish), and is served with fried chicken, meatballs, mushrooms, shrimp and basil leaves.

“The fried rice is tasty and authentic, kind of reminds me of Tom Yum (spicy Thai soup) in a way, because of the shrimp and mushroom,” said Dicky, a customer from Singapore.

Petromak serves a few signature cocktails, such as Green Petromak, Kemang Sunset and Sweet Apricot as well as mocktails like Dewa Monkey, Petromak Plus and Petromak Special. These can be enjoyed with finger foods like fried tofu, nachos, chicken wings and more.

Petromak offers a relaxed setting where you can enjoy a varied selection of both Indonesian and Western foods at pocket-friendly prices.

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Petromak: Blast from the Past

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

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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

Why DVD Pirates in Kemang are Joyful

The continuing boycott of the Indonesian film market by Hollywood studios has caused no end of grief and disappointment among local movie buffs and cinemas houses. But in one corner of Kemang in a bevy of shops on Jl. Kemang Raya, those selling pirated DVDs of recent Hollywood releases are enjoying a brisk increase in business.

For many Indonesian moviegoers, the past couple of months have been like a never-ending scene from a very bad film.

Back in February, no one would ever have imagined that the standoff between the Indonesian tax authorities and the Motion Picture Association of America over the imposition of a new tax system for imported films would last this long.

As a result of this fiasco, there have been a number of clear losers: Indonesian movie lovers who have been deprived of access to imported films on the big screen; the local cinema industry which has seen a 60 percent drop in income from such screenings; and, of course, foreign studios who have suffered from the negative impact of a 50 percent jump in demand for pirated DVDs since they began their boycott of the Indonesian market.

In the last five months, Indonesia moviegoers have missed the big screen experience of blockbuster Hollywood releases such as Black Swan, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung-Fu Panda 2, Fast Five, The Hangover Part 2, X-Man First Class, and much more.

But that hasn’t stopped movie lovers here from enjoying these films in another setting – on pirated DVDs in the comfort of their living rooms.

“Usually, I go to the cinema with my girlfriend every Saturday,” says Martin, a banker who is an avid filmgoer. “Now we stay in my apartment for movies. I just bought new speakers for my entertainment system. I guess I have to stick to pirated DVDs.”

As elsewhere in Indonesia, residents of Kemang are resorting to pirated DVDs to satisfy their need for a new film fix, and pirated DVD vendors here, especially those located within a parade of shops on Jl. Kemang Raya, are enjoying a sharp increase in business, particularly since there are now few goods films available in the cinemas.

Julia (not her real name) works at one of the pirated DVD vendors in Kemang and says demand for new Hollywood releases has gone up since February. “Most of the new movies are sold out, even if they’re not good quality,” she says. “Before, people were somewhat picky in choosing movies, but now they just buy anything that is available.”

Other pirated DVD vendors around Kemang have also reported seeing a boost in sales. They are capitalizing on this opportunity by selling the movies for only Rp 7,000, or less than a dollar, each.

Missing the Silver Screen

Since the boycott, work has been busier than ever. Previously, Julia says she was able to get four days off a month, but now she can only take two days. “Every morning I have to put hundreds of DVDs, along with the cover, in the plastic slip,” she says. “On our busiest days, we can sell more than 1,000 DVDs.”

So far, the authorities have not made any major efforts to halt the distribution of pirated movies. Since the beginning of this year, the Kemang area has not been raided by the police, says Julia.

Moviegoers, meanwhile, say they have no choice but to resort to pirated DVDs. Andrea, an international school student who lives in the Kemang area and usually goes to the cinema two or three times a week, admits that since the boycott she has started buying more pirated movies than she had in the past. “I usually bought pirated DVDs only for movies that I don’t want to watch in the cinema,” she says. “However, every time there are blockbuster movies and new releases that I’m interested, I’m willing to pay five times more for the comfort and thrill of watching it on the big screen.”

Pirated DVDs may be a quick solution to the boycott problem, but they are not without their drawbacks, such as poor quality pictures for movies with great visual animation such as Cars 2 or Rio, or the irritation of having a disk skip in the middle of an action combat scene in a movie such as Thor.

Rina is a secretary and movie lover who works in the Kemang area. Before the boycott, she often went to the cinema with her co-workers after office hours. Now she spends most of her time at cafés or bars. “I really miss watching movies in the cinemas,” she says. “Sometimes I feel it’s a waste to watch good movies on a low quality DVD. I really wish that the boycott would end before they release Harry Potter, because I don’t want to watch the pirated version.”

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Why DVD Pirates in Kemang are Joyful

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

Fight Club: Baan Muay Thai

If you really think you can learn Muay Thai from an instructional video in the comfort of your living room, think again.

Most of us have at some time stood in front of a mirror imitating punches and kicks that we saw in a movie or at a fighting match, and aspired to perfect methods to kick some serious butt. However, learning how to fight from a champion trainer in a proper gym with the right equipment and a real opponent is a whole different experience – one that involves a high adrenalin rush.

There are many martial arts techniques that are taught in Jakarta such as karate, capoeira, Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, Aikido and many more. They are popular among Jakartans, and each has its own unique fighting style that can be learned either for self-defense or to get fit.

At Baan Muay Thai Club in Kemang, trainers and students explore one of the combat sports that originated in Thailand. Muay Thai means “Art of Eight Limbs,” because its points of contact involve punches, kicks, elbows and knees.

“For those who are not familiar with it they probably can’t differentiate between Muay Thai and kickboxing, but if you look closely our style is very different, and we use elbows and knees to strike,” says Ochit, manager of Baan Muay Thai.

The school was founded in late 2007 by a small community of guys who had been practicing Muay Thai since 2003. They decided to start the school because of the strong demand for martial arts training in the city.

“At that time, we had not seen any progress and development of Muay Thai in Jakarta,” Ochit says. “We were doing this as a hobby and practiced together among friends, but then we realized that there’s an opportunity to try to revive the old gym and create a new concept.”

Baan Muay Thai Club is owned by Francois Mohede, one of the vocalists for the pop band Lingua. His vision was simply to introduce Muay Thai to Indonesians and teach them that that the sport is not only a high impact martial art, but also a way to boost stamina, achieve an ideal body shape and tone muscles. But Muay Thai is not only a way to get fit; it can also be a lifestyle.

The club offers two kinds of classes: My Muay Thai, the regular training class, and Cardio Muay Thai, which uses Muay Thai techniques to create a calorie-burning workout.

“Basically, both classes use the same techniques, but we use the word ‘cardio’ to make it sound less frightening for beginners,” Ochit says. “The only difference is that Cardio Muay Thai focuses on repetition movements to burn calories and have fun, while My Muay Thai focuses on practicing sparring to learn your skills.”

 

Stress Relief

As beginners will discover, Muay Thai is a simple sport to learn – anyone can do it. If you know how to punch and kick, you just have to polish and develop your style and technique to do it the right way. The club provides all of the necessary equipment such as gloves, guards, punching bags and mats. Members only need to provide fighting hand wraps.

Since it opened, Baan Muay Thai has attracted more than 1,800 members and has 300 active students from many different countries.

“In the morning, you see some women come for self defense, but most of the ladies come here to get fit,” Ochit says. “In the evening, there are more teenagers and students that want to relieve stress, you know, from traffic jams – they just want to punch something.”

Prices for My Muay Thai lessons range between Rp 300,000 and Rp 550,000 depending on the number of sessions. A single Cardio Muay Thai lesson costs Rp 60,000, or you can choose a package of eight sessions for Rp 420,000. The sessions have anywhere from five to as many as 30 or so participants.

Currently, Baan Muay Thai has five trainers, including two professional fighters, Ankie and Denny.

“Ankie was a student and he’s been training for two years,” Ochit says. “We saw his development and improvement, so we sponsored him to fight, and now he is one of our trainers.”

In addition to providing classes, Baan Muay Thai also participates in international fighting tournaments and sponsors fighters to represent the club. In May this year, both Denny and Ankie won a tournament in Phuket, Thailand.

On July 9, Baan Muay Thai will host Indonesia’s first Muay Thai tournament. The event will be held in Seminyak, Bali, next to the beach with international fighters and participants from eight countries including Thailand, Australia, Spain and New Zealand.

“It will be an exciting event, especially for the Muay Thai community in Indonesia,” says Ochit.

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Fight Club: Baan Muay Thai

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

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

Go Dutch at Dijan’s

f you’re looking for a Sunday brunch unlike the usual Jakarta hotel buffet fare, Dijan’s Pannekoeken and Poffertjes is the place to go. This intimate Dutch restaurant has a homey setting to enjoy pancakes and other Dutch specialties that call to mind grandma’s cooking.

I paid a visit to Dijan’s one recent rainy Sunday, after craving pancakes all morning. It’s early afternoon by the time I arrive after driving in the heavy rain. A security guard approaches with an umbrella to escort me from my car. I note it as a sign of good service, especially considering I’ve come unannounced and no one is aware that I’m here to do a restaurant review.

Entering Dijan’s I’m instantly reminded of my Dutch grandmother’s old house in South Jakarta — the stained glass with colorful tulips on the windows and front door, the wooden interiors, the porcelain and antique Dutch objects on display.
The restaurant has three sections — a lower floor, upper floor with a bar and an outside garden. Only a few tables are taken and I choose one on the upper floor, a non-smoking area. A waiter brings me a menu and I flip through the pages and go straight to the Pannekoeken section. I read through every single pancake description and they all sound tempting. There are pannekoeken served as a light meal, dessert, or as entrées. There are some with cheese, banana, strawberries, beef ragout, salad, ice cream, pretty much anything you can imagine. A shame I can’t try them all in one visit. I settle on the cheese and banana pannekoek.

I turn to the specials and review the Dutch brunch entrées. I had read before coming that the bitterballen (meatballs) were very good. I also consider the hutspot met gehakt (sweet potato and vegetables with meatballs). The vegetables are served with light cream, steamed French beans, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, sautéed onions, and two big meatballs seasoned with pepper and onions.

Another dish that catches my attention is the kakap ala meuniere, a snapper deep-fried in bread crumbs, which sounds like the Dutch version of fish and chips.

It is served with spinach and French beans cooked in butter and garlic, a baked tomato with sautéed onions and potato wedges. There are also some Indonesian dishes on the menu, and even spaghetti.

In the end it’s a toss-up between the Holland biefstuk (beef steak), which is tenderloin served with sautéed potatoes, vegetable and special jus (sauce), and the stamppot spinazie (spinach stew) with bratwurst or beef burger. I ask the waiter for a recommendation, and he says that since I am ordering two courses, it would be wise to go with the stamppot spinazie, which is a smaller portion and a favorite of many customers.

And then my food arrives, both courses at the same time. Both dishes look delicious and equally enticing, and I have to pause to consider which one to try first. I decide to start with Dijan’s specialty, the pannekoek with cheese and banana, which is best eaten warm.

As I take the first bite, I’m transported at once to my grandmother’s kitchen. I immediately know this is the real deal. The pannekoeken from my childhood days used to have just some sprinkles of sugar, but the melted cheese and banana are a delicious combination.

After savoring the nostalgic moment, I am ready for my stamppot spinazie with bratwurst. It’s a delightful presentation and very Dutch — bratwurst with sautéed onion on top, spinach mixed with potatoes and butter and a baked tomato. The bratwurst could have been better, but I eat everything on my plate.

I review the menu for the poffertjes featured for dessert. Poffertjes are basically warm coin-sized pancakes topped with all types of fruits and ice cream. I will skip them for now, but will be sure to have them next time.

I come away from my excellent Dutch brunch entirely satisfied. Dijan’s cuisine is authentic Dutch fare one can enjoy as a full meal, a light snack or a quick stop for dessert. I know I’ll be returning soon to try the other dishes.

Iwan Putuhena Reviews

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Go Dutch at Dijan’s

Pictures by Iwan Putuhena

Dijan’s Pannekoeken & Poffertjes

Jl. Kemang Selatan, No. 102A
Hours: Weekdays 10am – 11pm; Weekends 10am – midnight
Tel: 021 7179 3538

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 Jakarta: Patriana Sonia, Business Analyst

Patriana Sonia hides her addiction for adrenaline and all things extreme behind a bright smile and cool demeanor. Patriana, a Washington-based business analyst at Freddie Mac, left Jakarta four years ago. In between skydiving over the Grand Canyon or lapping a Nascar circuit in a race car she makes time to come back to Jakarta.  Patriana tells us what she thinks about the city’s housing market, reminisces over how inexpensive it used to be to go to the movies, and reveals how the move to the United States taught her to become more independent.

So you work for Freddie Mac, what exactly does that company do?

We lend money to the banks and they lend money to the customer. We focus on the residential mortgage market and help create opportunities for home ownership.

What is your position there?

I’m a business analyst. I do pricing for customers, mostly major banks like Bank of America, HSBC and Citibank.

Do you enjoy your job?

Pricing is fun. I do programming. I have to consider all aspects such as the inflation rate, market price and so on to analyze their ability to pay back.

How do you release the pressure from work?

I like extreme sports. Recently, I drove a Nascar circuit in a stock car and I was going more than 200 kilometers per hour. The gas pedal and the steering wheel are really heavy.

In Arizona, I went skydiving and got to see the Grand Canyon from the sky.

Then just last month, I was in Africa for the World Cup where I went bungee jumping. I’ll do anything at least once. Next, I want to fly a fighter jet.

Have you done anything extreme here in Jakarta?

Not yet, but I heard they have base jumping, where you jump off a building. I want to try that, but I bet it’s scarier than skydiving. I want to do all these things before I start having children [laughs].

What did you study in college?

I went to school in upstate New York, got my associate degree and then moved to Washington, DC, to attend George Washington University where I graduated with a degree in economics and religion.

Right now, I’m taking an MBA in finance, [management information systems] and software engineering, so I’m combining IT and finance.

That way I hope I can make my bank account fatter [laughs].

How’s the housing market in the United States right now?

Interest rates are still low, but at the same time it’s not easy for banks to lend money because there’s a restricted lending program. But overall the market is doing better than last year.

What do you think about the housing market in Jakarta?

With all the new development happening in the outskirts of Jakarta, housing is more affordable especially for the middle class.

Do you think the housing market in Jakarta will crash like it did in the States?

No. I think it will remain stable. Our biggest issue has always been a shortage of housing, lack of supply and high demand. We weren’t impacted by the global housing crisis because our economy is isolated.

So how long have you been away from Jakarta and how long are you going to be here?

I’ve been away for more than four years, and I’m only staying for a couple of weeks.

When did you move to the US?

When I was 16. I always wanted to move there. I traveled so much when I was younger and I saw New York as the land of opportunity [laughs].

I love the States because that’s where I learned how to be independent and make my own money. It’s different to living in Jakarta where you have a driver and maids. Living is easy at home.

How has Jakarta changed over the past four years?

More traffic than ever before, but I think the busway is not a bad idea. There have also been improvements in the government with the KPK and efforts to clean up the old system.

What do you think about the lifestyle in Jakarta?

The middle class is becoming more upscale. We have a lot of places to hang out at I think we are getting that taste for luxury.

I notice that people are speaking English everywhere and more international schools are opening, so there’s increasing evidence of globalization.

Where do you hang out when you’re back in town?

I’m out checking out new places, restaurants and malls. I spend time at Grand Indonesia, Plaza Indonesia, Social House, Immigrant and all those hip new places [laughs].

I realize that the prices are more expensive here when compared to the States where you can still find beer for a dollar during happy hour.

My favorite beers like Budweiser and Hoegaarden cost $10 in Jakarta.

When shopping here, do you convert prices to dollars in your head?

Yes, I have a tendency to think in dollars, so everything is either very cheap or more expensive. Since I’m only here for a month and I’m still earning dollars, it’s alright [laughs].

Not so long ago in Jakarta, Rp 50,000 [$5.50] could buy you a movie ticket and food, and you’d still have money left over, but not today.

 

Patriana was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Patriana Sonia, Business Analyst

 

Pictures Courtesy of Patriana Sonia Paago

My Jakarta: M Yusup AS, Tennis Ball Boy

Even though badminton is king in Jakarta, tennis still holds its own in the realm of popular sports, and few in the capital can  say that it’s as much a part of their lives as M Yusup AS.

A lifelong Jakartan, Yusup has worked as a ball boy and competed at various levels of tennis over the past 40 years. And although his competitive days are well behind him, Yusup is still devoted to the sport.

He tells us all about the challenges of being a ball boy, why nobody plays tennis at Senayan anymore and why global warming is ruining business.

There aren’t a lot of people out here playing. Do you get much work as a ball boy? 

Not only am I a ball boy, I’m also a hitting partner. I also clean up the courts to get them ready for when the players come here.

How has your job changed over the years? 

I preferred the way it was in the ’70s and ’80s. Back then, these courts were always full. These days, business is slow. People have courts at their apartments now, so they just play there. That means I have to work longer hours to make enough money. But I’ve worked here all my life and I don’t want to work anywhere else.

How long have you had this job? 

Since 1970. I’m 49 now and I’ve been doing this since I was 11.

How much do you make as a ball boy?

Two ball boys usually split Rp 25,000 ($2.65) per game. I can’t give you a daily average though, because when it’s rainy or hot, people only come to play in the morning. If I go home with Rp 30,000, it’s a good day. Food costs Rp 10,000 a day and I spend Rp 12,000 per day to take the MetroMini to and from work, so on days when I don’t make much money, I spend the night with my relatives nearby.

Do you get different sorts of clients now than you did in the ’70s and ’80s? 

Yes. We used to get a lot of Japanese players here. I liked them. They were understanding of how hard it was to get by and they tipped very well. Now they don’t come here any more. Most of the players are American or Australian.

Did you prefer the Japanese players to the Western ones? 

No, they tip well too. Sometimes they pay me Rp 50,000 an hour. But they come here less often than the Japanese did.

Do Indonesians ever play tennis here? 

Not really. They prefer to play at more exclusive places, like apartments or hotels.

What are your work hours like? 

There aren’t really any set work hours. I usually get here at 5 a.m., right after I finish my morning prayers. I try to leave for work early to avoid the traffic. During rush hour, it can take half an hour to get here from my home in Kebayoran. Sometimes I stay until closing time at 10 p.m.

When do the players usually start arriving? 

The first ones usually show up at six in the morning.

Have you always lived in Jakarta? 

Yes, I’m Betawi. I’ve been to other cities in Java, like Bandung and Bogor, but I’m only really comfortable in Jakarta.

Over the years, how has Jakarta changed as a city? 

Mostly for the worse. When I was young, the weather wasn’t as hot as it is now and the pollution wasn’t as bad. The economy was good for me until the ’90s. Then living here got much more expensive.

Do you support a family with this job? 

Yes. I have a wife, a son and three daughters. My son is 25, but my youngest daughter is two-and-a-half years old. None of them have regular jobs yet, so I’m the only steady source of income. I sometimes take odd jobs when I get offered them, but I won’t look for other work because of my age.

How do you like the court owners here? 

I don’t mind them. They let me work here, even though I don’t exactly work for them; I’m freelance. When I tried working at the Pakubuwono Apartments, on the other hand, the owners charged me a fee to work there. I quit that job after one day.

Do you play tennis yourself?

Yes, and I also teach a little. I’ve played since I was about 15. I competed seriously back then and I played with Lita Liem Sugiarto [a prominent tennis player in the ’60s and ’70s] a few times. I just didn’t like having to leave the city to compete so often. I have my own racket and sometimes I play with the other ball boys when we have nothing else to do. We actually have scheduled court time here on Mondays and Thursdays.

How many ball boys work here at Senayan? 

About 100. Most of them are only part-timers, though. I’m the only one who’s here all day, every day.

How popular is tennis in Indonesia? 

It’s gotten a lot more popular in recent years, since they started putting tennis courts in apartment buildings, but it’s not as big as badminton. Everyone plays badminton here, but only upper-class Indonesians play tennis

Yusup was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: M Yusup AS, Tennis Ball Boy

Picture by Zack Petersen

My Jakarta: Melvyn, World Traveler

Melvyn knows her way around the country. But in due time, she may know her way around the world as well.

As a travel consultant, she has virtually figured out the global road map like the back of her hand. But her recent trip to Europe as a lone backpacker gave her a more intimate insight into other countries to which most of us only dream of going. It also helped her gain a better understanding of herself and how to travel on the cheap with help from a very useful Web site.

You just recently came back from a trip to Europe. Tell me about that experience. 

It was great. I finally got to travel by myself. I’ve been dreaming of going on a backpacking trip all my life, and I think I just spent all of my life savings [laughs], but it was worth it. I went to Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands in 45 days. I gained a lot of experience during that trip. There are just so many stories to tell.

Do you think it’s better to travel alone or be with friends?

I used to be indecisive when I was with my friends, but because I went on this trip alone, I felt like I learned to make decisions on my own. Traveling alone is nice because you make decisions by yourself. If you want to do something or go somewhere, you just do it. But I did constantly meet up with people everywhere I went, mostly from CouchSurfing.org

Tell me a little bit about CouchSurfing.org. 

It’s a nonprofit organization with members from around the world. Basically, it’s a Web site that helps you find a host who can accommodate your stay in a country you choose to visit. And you can also be the host yourself. To be able to experience a new culture right at your home is cool, but it’s also a good way to meet people. And not everyone just wants to find a place to crash. Some just want travel tips from locals.

You are a couch surfer representing Jakarta. How long have you been doing this? 

About two years. I’m living with my cousin, so I can’t always invite people to stay at our place. But being a host doesn’t always mean that your guests have to stay at your place. You can also serve as their guide and take them out for a good time.

Where do you usually take your guests? 

Standard sightseeing, which includes going to Monas, the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, the old city and the highlight, of course, is making them eat durian. I also take them out to the city and ride the ojek , the bajaj and the bemo .

Where do your international guests usually come from? 

From Singapore, the US, Portugal, Holland and England.

How many couch surfers are there in Indonesia? 

In Indonesia there are thousands, but in Jakarta there are only a few hundred. I don’t know the exact number, but I know not everyone is active.

Don’t you think it’s dangerous to invite strangers into your own home? 

There are people who think it isn’t appropriate to invite strangers to their homes. But by letting them stay, I think you’ll eventually get to know them better. And there’s a reference system that you can also use. I’m sure there are incidents, but that can happen at any networking site.

Where are you do you originally come from? 

I’m from Palembang, South Sumatra. I was born there and I stayed there until I was in high school. I moved to Bandung to study at a university where I took up communications science and public relations. I moved to Jakarta in 2005.

Why made you decide to move to Jakarta? 

When I lived in Bandung, I spent most of my weekends in Jakarta. After I graduated, I got an offer to work at a company that was into wedding photography. Then one day I saw an ad from a travel agency, and I thought it could be interesting. I applied, got accepted and I’ve been working in the field ever since.

Tell me a little bit about working at a travel agency. 

I work as a travel consultant. I make reservations for plane tickets and hotel accommodations. I’m also into product development and serve as tour leader. I do a lot of research, organize information and get in touch with local travel agencies everywhere that can work with us. I’ve arranged tours to China, Egypt, Thailand and several more countries. I’ve also served as a tour guide for destinations around Southeast Asia.

So you managed to ‘couch surf’ throughout your recent trip? 

Pretty much. I was serving as a host before my recent trip, so when it was my turn to travel, some of the people that stayed at my place kind of returned my hospitality. I was sleeping in all sorts of rooms. I stayed in a living room, a guest room with a private bathroom and at times on the floor with only a blanket. You just can’t be picky.

Have you been able to coach-surf around Indonesia? 

Yes, at Bandung, Bali, Solo, Semarang and Yogyakarta. Even though I have friends living in Bandung, I stay with other couch surfers because I travel with a guest. This is to meet people from other parts of Indonesia with the same ideas in mind: traveling on a budget.

Melvyn was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Melvyn, World Traveler

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Hendro, Rock Star Middleman

Trying to please a diva or a rock star during a tour is no easy task. Just ask the Jakarta-born Hendro, who has worked in artist relations since 1993. Hendro and his team are responsible for ensuring every aspect of an artist’s comfort and well-being.

And anyone who thinks working in the entertainment industry is all fun and games had better think again. Hendro gives us a breakdown of what it’s like traveling around the country trying to keep the talent happy.

How did you get to work with famous bands and artists? 

In this business it’s all about word of mouth. People hire me and my team based on the quality of work that we do. Bands recommend us to other bands.

What exactly is an artist relations officer? 

I’m a middleman. I work between the artist and the event organizer. I have to make sure that everything that the artist needs is prepared.

What’s the biggest difference between working with people in Jakarta and outside the city? 

It’s hard to say because I was born in Jakarta, so I’m used to this pace. But I’ve traveled to many places around Indonesia, from the countryside to major cities, so I can really see the difference. In Jakarta, it seems like you are always chasing the clock. Elsewhere, everything tends to be more relaxed, like you are killing time. It’s a really different lifestyle.

Which local artists have you worked with? 

I have worked with a lot of well-known bands and artists, like Padi, Gigi, Agnes Monica, Peterpan, Nidji and many more. I maintain a good relationship with them and earn their trust; they always rehire me for their shows.

Have you worked with any international artists? 

Yes, in 2003 I worked with Linkin Park for their concert in Jakarta. International artists have their own relations officers, so at that time my job was to manage 700 internal security officers. It was a really good experience.

Can you describe a typical day with an artist?

When an artist is on the way to the airport we ensure the boarding passes and seat numbers are ready. The bags and equipment are already checked in, so they can just jump on the plane. Before arrival, we have the event organizer standing by with transport from the airport to the hotel. Then we need to evaluate the situation with the team, such as crowd control for example, just to make sure everything is secure. Before arriving at the hotel, we already have the artist’s room prepared according to their wishes. They don’t need to check in, just go straight to the room.

Then on the way to the venue, we have to coordinate backstage preparations, for example a clean bathroom, food, drinks, backup security and other requests. From the beginning to the end of the concert, our team has to be aware of and control the crowd. Three songs from the end, we have to be ready to evacuate the artist back to the hotel. I constantly have to confirm and reconfirm everything to make sure it’s all smooth.

Have you ever had an incident involving an artist and a fan? 

Well, there was one incident where an artist’s hair was accidently pulled by a fan. I think it was unintentional; the fan was just really excited and trying to reach the artist. Once in Kalimantan there were mothers forcing their kids to meet Peterpan, but it turned out that they were the ones who wanted to meet the band [laughs].

Why choose this job? 

I don’t know [laughs]. Somehow I ended up here. It all began when a friend became an event organizer. A cigarette company sponsored a 15-city concert tour and I was on the team as a relations officer. Because I did a good job, since then it has never stopped.

What’s your plan for the future? 

Everyone wants to grow. My friend and I want to create our own artist management company. It will be called FOH (Front of House).

What’s the difference between local and international artists? 

International artists are better timekeepers than local artists, but they make twice as many requests. And more interesting ones [laughs].

Have you ever had obsessed girl fans who would try anything to meet the band? 

Yes, all the time. We make reservations under different aliases and we have to monitor all the artists’ phone calls. Calls must be directed to us first.

Do you need basic martial arts training to be able to protect the artist? 

Basic martial arts is good, but it’s not necessary. You have to use your brain first to solve a problem. If we get physical or use a weapon, it can damage the reputation of the artist. It’s better to think first or use persuasion to solve any conflicts.

What are you doing over the next couple of months? 

I still have to go to five more cities with two bands and four more cities with Agnes Monica. And I’m also working with The Changcuters and Nidji. I’m looking forward to it.

Hendro was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Hendro, Rock Star Middleman

My Jakarta: DJ Sonny, DMC Champion

Being a DJ is serious business. Just ask DJ Sonny, who competed for the DMC DJ world championship title in 2005. His mad skills at the turntable won him first place in Indonesia and 13th in the world. The Jakarta-born Sonny was the first Indonesian DJ to come that close to the title.

After almost 20 years behind the decks, DJ Sonny is still churning out tracks from his home studio, and passing on his knowledge and skills to the next generation of DJs. He talks about being a teacher, the growth of hip-hop and what it’s like being a famous DJ in Jakarta.

How long have you been a DJ?

I started in 1990, but I was first influenced by a national DJ competition in Jakarta in 1987.

What was the scene like here in the late ’8s and early ’9s? 

At that time, we were still playing lots of R&B and hip-hop. There wasn’t too much house music.

How did the DMC competition change things for you? 

I had been a resident DJ at clubs, played at events and private parties, but I never competed until 2005. In 1992, there was an international competition in Indonesia, but at that time I was still too young. I patiently waited and prepared myself for the right time. It took 13 years before another international competition came to Indonesia.

Do you play other music besides hip-hop? Why hip-hop? 

If you’re asking why, my title is DMC so I have to play hip-hop. As a DJ, I have to follow the trends. I can play anything from hip-hop, R&B, progressive to house music. I only play hip-hop in Jakarta, but anywhere else, you might catch me playing progressive or house. 

Do DJs make a good living?

Until today, I haven’t seen a successful DJ in Indonesia, compared to international DJs like Tiesto or DJ Armin Van Buuren who have had hit tracks. In Indonesia, some DJs produce their own tracks, like DJ Romy, but Indonesians have not supported their work.

Do you produce songs? 

I make tracks, mostly remixes, and send them out to be distributed. I usually share my remixes with friends and students so they can play them exclusively. I have two different remixes, one for the public — a free download — and the other is for my crew. I also make tracks for ringback tones, short and catchy tunes like “Mbah Surip.”

In the late ’9s, DJs had a bad image because they were linked to drugs. How is it today? 

I think the image is a lot better today. A DJ can play alongside bands or at a fashion show. I think a DJ competition is important because it shows their skills in a positive way.

Tell me a little bit about your DMC experience. 

After winning first place in Jakarta, I went on to the national finals against nine DJs from other cities. I became national champion and was sent to London for the international competition. There, I finished 13th in solo and fifth in team. The one that meant the most for me was the solo championship. Though I didn’t win, the best part was the opportunity.

Now you’ve established your own DJ school. Tell me about it and what you teach? 

I started teaching in 2005, right after the competition. Teaching never crossed my mind. It was a request from friends and other DJs, so I started my own school, DOPESPINNERS. I teach basic and advanced skills and music production. You can check out more info at my site, www.dopespinners.com.

How do you like teaching? 

I love it. I have the drive to teach. There have only been two international championships in Indonesia, in 1992 and 2005. We only ranked 13th in the world, so we are still behind. I see an opportunity. I might not be the next champion, but I would like to see one of my students make it.

What type of music is in now? 

In 1996 house music became big here, and also the drugs. Bar revenues were down at the time, but because the music was booming, every club played the same thing, which they still do to this day. I think house music has become a lifestyle and a big market here.

Which one do you prefer, turntable or CDJ? 

I started with a turntable and vinyl, but since 1998 clubs started to use CDs. The best thing about the turntable is the image or gimmick. Imagine watching a DJ selecting the vinyl, taking it out of the sleeve, putting it on the player and bring the needle to the record. There’s a style to that. The best thing about CDJ is the digital quality. You can be creative by making your own remixes, burn a CD and play it right away.

Do you think DJs have to do some sick scratching or tricks? 

Yes, because if you don’t have skills, you’re just the same as the other million DJs out there.

What’s your latest project? 

I remix gospel music. I work with church and youth groups to recreate English gospel music to Indonesian and make it hip.

What do you think of the DJ business in Indonesia? 

I hope it will continue to grow. DJs can still do so many things besides playing in the clubs. But they have to maintain their image so it won’t ruin the DJ reputation. They can be artists, just like any other successful Indonesian artist, so they have to be more responsible.

DJ Sonny was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: DJ Sonny, DMC Champion