Kuta Nightlife Now 01

David Trauts heads to Kuta on a Friday night to check the nightlife and to find out what’s happening down there right now. 

Kuta, what a place! It has everything you need for a great holiday; hotels, a beautiful white sand beach, restaurants and bars all over the district, and it’s right next to the airport. It was the number one hot spot to go for tourists from around the world for decades. It was the place to start your Bali adventure, or remain the whole time, but it must be said, it did lose its shine a few years ago, even before Covid. In fact, as the tourist numbers grew and new areas around the island gained traction with the young crowd, what was left in Kuta was the old Bali die-hards, mainly older Aussie couples, but also from all parts of the world, who had been coming to Bali for years and wouldn’t stay anywhere else, “even if you paid me!” said one punter to this writer a while back. There were also the totally fresh, newcomers, who didn’t really have any idea of what was what in Bali and had only ever heard of Kuta. The arrival of Covid just seemed to knock Kuta on the head once and for all as just about everything shut down, and it has been a long road back from there for sure. But it is coming back now, albeit slowly. This is not a story about the history of Kuta, but it’s a two part story about Kuta and what’s happening there right now.

So, what is happening?

We went down to find out for ourselves last Friday night. I had been a couple times to downtown Kuta’s famed Sky Garden since it reopened last year, which was all well and good, but the mission was to find out more.

We started down Poppies Lane 2 in a small bar suggested by a friend who lives down that way. Burjo’s Bar. The bar looked like it had been transported straight from the 80’s and without even a new lick of paint since. The clientele was a mixed bunch of mostly single male punters of varying ages and a few local women.

Burjo's, not a bad spot for a couple of Bintangs.

The pool table was ok, but the rest of it was a bit rundown, not that anyone looked like they were expecting much more. One of things I appreciate about Kuta is getting away from the wannabe crowd, the wannabe this, that and everything else, always thinking about where their next piece of coolness is coming from. There’s none of that in Kuta and it’s refreshing. What you see is what you get. And that goes for the bars too. Burjo’s was, as my friend said, a good spot to kick things off.

After a couple Bintangs, we were in the mood for the more the up-market action that Jalan Legian possibly offered and walked up to the main street and turned south.

Paddies had a few bods inside. There was a bunch of middle aged, western couples laughing to each other’s jokes standing at the bar looking like they were reliving a pub crawl from 1987, and a few ladies of the night sitting in the back stalls obviously waiting for their chance to get what they could out of this Friday night. It was still early, but nearing midnight, and not much was going on. Bounty Ship next door appeared to be closed, and as a friend said, that’s a shame, Bounty was such a force back in the day. Well, that day was already 20 years ago to be honest. Across the road, the old Espresso Bar was looking exactly the same as ever, with a loud, cut down, rock band banging out a barrage of quite decent Led Zep, AC/DC and other rock classics.

The boys rocking it out at Espresso Bar

We stopped for another Bintang sitting down at a table in the back of the bar and it was kinda fun. Being six of us we basically had our own party crowd to keep things moving along nicely. The crowd (well, maybe 15 people in total and all pushed up to view the band) looked kinda elderly, but somehow youthful at the same time. Maybe that’s part of being a Kuta local. You know, like the old Hotel California song where you can check out whenever you want but you can never leave. It’s ironic that that song was played so often through the ages by duos and cover bands in the bars of Kuta, like a foreboding tale to the generations to come. Probably still is being played now, but we missed it that night.

The gang enjoying the Kuta tour

We were out on the street again and dudes were approaching trying to sell anything they could, or imagined they have. “You want girl, you want drug, you want parteee.” Some things just don’t change. I must admit it was better than being offered a ride to Mexicola in Seminyak, which was what they were offering a year before. The roadside had become busier in the time we were in Espresso. There were more people walking along the street as we headed north. We came across the sounds of punk-ish rock music.

Area 59 sounded like it was rocking that night.

 It was coming from a second floor venue, Area 59, and it sounded like a younger crowd cheering the band on, but we had to skip that as we were now on a course for what still remains Kuta’s busiest and most notorious nightclub, Sky Garden.

I go a long back with Sky Garden, I know them all very well, and I know the history from the start to finish, but this is not the history of Sky, this is the story of what is happening there now.

Inside Sky Garden's Deep Red room.

The main entrance is the same. You go up the luxurious elevator and arrive to the third floor. The place still has a much higher standard of décor and finish than anywhere along that Kuta strip. The third floor is called Deep Red, for obvious reasons, and it is where most of the action takes place. There are still girls dancing on the bars and hanging from the rafters. That hasn’t changed and nor has the music. The music is still commercial hip hop and pop, and the crowd is not over complicating things, keeping it simple with shots, beers and letting the good times roll. It’s a fun spot, there is no doubt about that. Upstairs things get a bit deeper.

DJ Flex behind the wheel in a busy Deep Red

The fourth floor, or Sky Chix has a more EDM music style, sometimes even house or melodic techno moments that can keep the more music appreciating punter on their toes – but I wouldn’t call it underground. No where near it, but not a bad option if you are already over the music downstairs on level three. The staff are friendly and I must say, Sky is getting busier ever time I get down there. There is a door charge for men, women get in free. For that reason, perhaps, there are many women inside the club.

That’s Kuta Now Part 1. Part 2 coming soon.

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