Words by Mikey Moran
Bali’s burgeoning music scene has been attractive over recent years. Originally a singular art and music place known for its long-lasting traditions, modern Bali embraces contemporary electronic music with its own pace and style. Within just a few years, Bali has become a hub for regular and attractive music events across the island, inviting big headliners while seeing a spread of local talents, clubs, and venues active in the island. Let’s explore what Bali has to offer music and party-wise.
In this edition of our ever-growing city guide series, DJ Mikey Moran, co-founder of the newest addition to Bali’s awesome music venues, Bali Praia — a recording studio, lounge, and DJ space organizing DJ workshops, takes us through the magical island for an unparalleled look at the islands best hot spots.
We all like a good drink, so where are the top spots to head to before a night out?
Feel like a cozy drink before heading to the clubs? Bali’s bars are segregated all over the place but if I were to pick a place which never fails, I would go with 40 thieves. Very centrally located in Petitenget so its easy access to your next venue, they have some of the top mixologists on the island and I always seem to get a good spot at the tables. Always banging the good tunes without the volume being too high, it's perfect to get a cozy drink before heading into the bigger bash. Similarly, you have El Nacionale who is by the same people as 40 thieves. It is a rum-based cocktail bar that serves the best in its class and weekly DJs spinning there. They also have a balcony overlooking the beautiful rice fields behind. Another speakeasy nearby is Baker Street Social. Can’t go wrong with one of the bartenders “mystery” drinks, which can be made to whatever your preference is.
Where can you find the best clubs / late night venues in town?
Probably the most talked about the place around town would be the Vault. I’ve been there a few times and always had a blast. Considering the place playing some underground beats literally below the ground, the place is big enough to have ample space to dance and with the VOID sound systems at hand, you are guaranteed crisp and clear sound. Don’t forget to visit the cocktail bar at the back whereby they usually play some deep house beats and the area where the party moves to after the main room ends. There is, of course, the one and only Bali Praia, that books underground acts to play everything from Deep House, Tech House, Psytrance, Drum and Bass, UK Garage and more. Each event is broadcasted live in Youtube and Facebook so remember to subscribe to Bali Praia Youtube channel to make sure you can tune in. Bali though, to me, is all about the beach clubs and I would go to 707 for that old school raw Bali vibe where you just have a shack, some food and drinks and a simple DJ booth in front of the ocean. That's what Bali was like back in the day. If anyone is interested in some of the bigger parties, Potatohead, Kudeta, and Ulu Cliff House bring in international acts from time to time from Fat Boy Slim, Carl Cox, Peggy Gou, Patrick Topping, even bands like Franz Ferdinand. It's pretty amazing that Bali is now seeing a lot of acts coming through on a weekly or even monthly basis when back in the day we can only dream that acts come over to Bali hehe. Finally, El Nacional and 40 Thieves are great spots to chill with super nice cocktails with great DJs.Finally, El Nacional and 40 Thieves are great spots to chill with super nice cocktails with great DJs
Brunches are a weekend staple, which spots stand out to you?
Damn brunch is my jam. There are so many amazing spots here in Bali so its hard to pick a favorite. My go-to is Watercress usually because there are so many good selections and they also have a healthy salad bar. But places that stand out to me are Sisterfields, its been around for ages and quite popular in the Seminyak area. There is also La Luciola where you have a beachfront area so at least you get the view. Lastly, this one is local to Sanur, which is the Trattoria brunch on Sundays. Its a huge feast with eggs, meats, etc and you pay less than 10USD for it.
Best dirty late-night street food option?
Biased towards Indo food… you can’t go wrong with Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika or Laota (porridge). These places have been around forever and never disappoints. Just be careful of the spices if you can’t handle spicy food hehe. If you’re down for more western, its either Pit Stop Burger or Boss Burger. Nothing beats a bomb diggity late-night burger lol.
Where can we shop for records and music memorabilia in Bali?
A dying breed but I think some of the only survivors are Sub store in Denpasar and Tantra music store in Canggu. Bali Praia is also a creative music space that has recently partnered together with Pioneer DJ Indonesia. We hold monthly workshops at our cafe that invite the DJ and music community to check out the latest in software and hardware education. It is a creative sharing session and open to the public whereby no other creative hub on the island is doing specifically for music. We have had the likes of DJ Skratch Bastid, multi-award-winning scratch DJ, also sharing about the history of hip-hop, scratching and turntablism. In fact, Bali Praia has a bunch of courses from DJ courses, music production courses, and even vocal coaching for anyone who is visiting Bali and wants to learn. Check out all the details at www.balipraia.com/courses.
Your Sunday escape plan when you need to get away from it all?
One of my favourite Sunday spots to go to is Genius Cafe on Sanur Beach. It's definitely not in the prime area but I could literally sit here all day. The place is packed with lots of healthy options and a perfect place to bring your dog if you have one since its right on the beach. From turmeric lattes to sunshine margaritas, breakfast wraps to falafel salads, there is something for everyone here. There’s also another place called Sayan House up in Ubud that has such magnificent views and their bento box is amazing!!
Something everyone should do when visiting Bali, but probably hasn’t?
A lot of people visiting Bali are usually stuck in a bubble… and they always end up in the same old places. Even Ubud is a bit too commercialized and overly packed. I would go more on the off beaten paths. Either go to a waterfall - aling aling, sekumpul, and Bhuyana Sari are some of the better ones. You can take a trip down south to visit GWK - the 3rd biggest state of the world (a 28-year long project that just got finished). Or take a boat trip to the neighboring islands and explore Lembongan or Penida where you can some quiet time from the busty streets of Bali.
A track that reminds you of your childhood in the city? (If not originally from this city, a song that reminds you of when you first moved here)
Back in the day, there was a place in Kuta called Padi’s. One of the songs I remember that place by was Sun is Shining ATB remix. Unfortunately, it is not there anymore because of the Bali bombing in 2002. RIP.
What are other great exports that come from Bali?
Bali is so rich in culture that there are so many things one can bring back. Paintings from Ubud, Koffee Luwak, Barong Masks would probably be on the top of the list. One can get so lost here with their shopping. Something that I found which I think Bali does really good is furniture, however, either most are custom made or are really expensive.
A gift you can’t leave Bali without taking home for friends?
I would say a general one is milk pie… called pie Susu Bali. It's like a famous local Balinese cake. You can get it in Krisna gift shop on sunset road or the famous one on Jalan Dewi Sri. For the international friends, they usually ask for Sambal, Mie Goreng and the seaweed chips from circle K hehe.