Wednesday, October 11, 2006

K7 Disco

Somewhere around Monas, speeding north in a taxi at night-time, one crosses a psychic boundary line; a synaptic membrane in the capital's lead poisoned brain. The concrete monotony of the central business district gives way to the ancient ghosts of Kota and the mind is filled with intoxicating images of flamboyant Chinese restaurants, Viagra and condom selling Warungs, illicit high-stakes gambling, karaoke in heavily inverted commas, tasteless neon artifice and occasional glimpses of grinding poverty and squalor. It's like some kind of Sino - Indo acid trip taking hold, befuddling one’s already befuddled Jakartan brain. Please note though that this psychic fault line cannot be accessed from the busway. It's a taxi at night-time or nothing I'm afraid.

Such druggy metaphor is perhaps quite relevant though when you consider that the only time many lily livered South Jakartans cross this imaginary line is when they head up to the discos and clubs of Kota; places where people take their recreational pharmaceuticals seriously. Stadium has been the centre of activity of the uptown club scene for a number of years. It possesses the same pleasure palace vibe as nearby Millennium and a host of other Kota clubs, however it eschews that god-awful amphetamine driven, Asian teenybopper, shaky head, 200 beats per minute music that predominates in those other discos in favor of decent club tunes.

There is a new club in Kota though which could well challenge Stadium's dominance of the uptown scene. Continue north up Jl. Hayam Wuruk, past Kota Station on your right and head straight on past Cafe Batavia. You'll eventually come to a T-junction. Turn right here and about 50 yards down the road you will have arrived at K7 (Jl. Kunir No.7. Tel: 021 690 7575). K7's exterior resembles some kind of garish, mock Arabian palace and is hilariously at odds with the surrounding colonial era buildings. Inside though K7 is a cyberpunk, Blade Runner-esque wet dream of a club. The ground floor is more like a five-star hotel lobby than a club entrance hall. There are fountains, a restaurant, a bar, pool tables and sofas. K7 has obviously been designed for those who like to relax in relative calm and chat as well as for hardcore, head banging clubbers. The quiet areas in other local clubs look like they were tacked on as an afterthought in comparison. Ultimately though the whole place is more like a spaceship than a hotel or a club. The walls effervesce with computer controlled, ever-changing color and the furnishings are all opulently modernist in design.

Next to the voluminous entrance area is a disco/bar furnished with techno -- chrome chairs and an entire wall of pulsating square lights that sweep through a psychedelic kaleidoscope of mood enhancing colors. It's as futuristic a place as I've ever seen in Jakarta; even the waiters seem to be some kind of cyber -- genetic replicants, although maybe that wasn't the intended effect.

Stroll upstairs at K7 past more Captain Kirk on LSD lighting and you'll find the obligatory karaoke floor. This floor features enormous rooms, each filled with a veritable space shuttle flight deck of vast plasma TV sets and expensive hi-fi equipment. All that’s missing is a Holo-deck, although I suspect that the action happening in the rooms above the karaoke floor is all too real. Who needs holograms ay? The centerpiece of K7 isn't slated to open until October however. It's a colossal, Roman Coliseum of a disco covering three floors but as yet it remains just a concrete shell. When it’s finally ready though it should be quite breathtaking.

K7 are in the middle of their soft opening month at the moment and we'll have to see if it can put a dent in Stadium's armor plated hull. If looks, music and luxuriousness alone were the determining factors then K7 would soon be reigning supreme on the Kota scene. However it remains to be seen if this amazing new club can match both Stadium and Millennium in the illicit thrills department. I'm hoping that it will and that when Kota finally floods for the last time like some Asian version of Thomas Mann's choleric Death in Venice, the K7 spaceship will detach from its foundations revealing the plasma-ion drive hiding in the basement. It will then blastoff into orbit where it will dock with the forthcoming Indonesian space station and a bright new future ahead. Busway? Monorail? A space station is the next step I swear along with the hover Bajaj.

Simon Pitchforth