The Gay Clubs of Bali, Indonesia
Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country and the Islam religion is not exactly the friendliest to people in the LGBT community.
It is therefore a big surprise for me to find out that Bali, one of the most gorgeous and exciting islands in the world, has an actual district for people whose sexuality is fluid.
A newfound friend I met in the main beach of Kuta tipped me about it, assuring me that it is one of the funnest places is the island whether you're gay or heterosexual.
Always up for an adventure, I braved the warm Bali evening and hailed a cab going to the Jalan Dhyana Pura in Seminyak.
It was only a five minute drive from my place along Jalan Mertenadi. The cab costs less than 30,00 Indonesian rupiah (IDR)
What greeted me was a row of bars and clubs with screaming neon signage, each one trying to outdo one another by pumping their volumes to the max. I threw caution to the wind and simply embraced what the queer side of Bali has to offer
As hinted by it's name, Mixwell is a bar/club that accepts anyone and everyone. Whether you're straight or gay, this place is for you.
It was by far the most crowded and most popular along Dhyana pura. The cocktails are a bit pricey ranging from 85,000 IDR to 150,000 IDR per shot. A small bottle of my favorite beer Bintang, is sold at 50,000 IDR.
The music mix is not that great but at least they know Swedish House Mafia. The music is stopped every once in a while to give way to the gay impersonators who mimic popular singers like Whitney, Mariah and Beyonce among others. Male go-go dancers also have segments.
The gay impersonators and dancers notwithstanding, the bar remains respectable because the crowd is a mix of gay and straight so the bar respects diversity and caters to both.
Unlike Mixwell, Bali Joe's definitely caters to the LGBT crowd, and the performances of its gay artists are wilder and funner deviating from your usual pop stars to the Tina Turners, and Chaka Khans of the world. The male dancer segments are more often.
The crowd is a mix of locals and expats. Lots of male hookers abound, so take caution. Price range is the same as Mixwell. I think the music is better since they know Alesso and Avicii.
Facebar and Bottom's Up
These two other bars are also located along Dhyana Puna. What's strange is that they do not attract the same big crowds like Mixwell and Bali Joe's.
I took a peek inside both bars and I found them too dark and gloomy, made even more prominent by the lack of big groups of clients. Some members of the staff are also standing outside the bars and try to overflowing crowds from Mixwell and Bali Joe's to minimal effect.
There's a fifth bar to check out in this street. Unfortunately, I spent too much time and money in the said four bars so I decided to just overlook it. I stepped into Mixwell at around 10:30pm and the parties stopped at almost 4am.
What I noticed in Dhyana pura is that while there are lots of expats kissing and dancing with locals, they rarely bring them back to their respective hotels. In this regard, I guess Bali tourists are more conservative than those in other gay districts, say Bangkok, Thailand or Malate, Philippines.
The whole economy of Bali, depends on its tourism sector so no wonder the rich tourists are well protected. Outside the bars, there are polic officers and motorbikes and cabs all ready to bring tourists safely back.
I asked one of the waiters why Bali is more tolerant and accommodating of LGBT people. Apparently, the mentality of its people is way, way different than the rest of Indonesia, say Jakarta or Java.
I checked my watch to see that it was already 3:45am so I finished my mojito and hopped on one of the motorbikes and sped back to my hotel.
Take it from me, your Bali trip won't be complete without checking out Dhyana pura. Sure, there are clubs in Legian and Kuta but those in this district are of totally different nature and you'll love it.