Monday, August 22, 2011

Hello, Sailor! (White Party at Ku De Ta, 2011)

The finest weather in Bali arrives in the month of August along with the thousands of tourists who flock to this sunny little island from different parts of the world. Bali’s high tourist season (from early June to the end of September) reaches the peak when Ku De Ta throws its annual white party. For those of you who are not familiar with this name, Ku De Ta is one of the most celebrated F&B venues in the region. Every year, tons of people come to KTD’s theme parties and many of them fly in just for this reason. This year’s white party theme was “Hello, Sailor!”

I have been to parties at KDT before.  This year, I decided to go since a dear friend of mine organized the tickets and there was a good group of people going. Plus many of my other dearest friends were here in Bali and they were all up for it. So I thought “Why not?”  When we arrived at the spot, we were greeted by the scantily clad sailor girls and boys in their white and blue uniforms. The place was decorated with the nautical theme complete with a submarine in the centre.  It was appropriate but not over-the-top, just enough to get people in the navy mood. Compared to the space-themed one I went to a few years ago, this was a lot less elaborate. Nevertheless, it was quite a welcome.

The first thing we did, once we got seated, we ordered a bottle of sparkling wine and had a toast. (We had to!) Soon afterwards, the 22-piece big band started playing. An elegant overture followed by the lead singer’s “I’ve got you under my skin”. If you close your eyes, you could swear it was Frank singing. He did a great job, I thought. More singers followed.  They were all female and some did the duets with the Indonesian Sinatra.  Seriously, there are so many other great big band numbers to choose from but they all sang through Frank Sinatra catalog with an exception of one Nat King Cole number. I wish they would have made it a bit more variety. Here in Bali, every time, there’s something big band or Jazz happening, they simply can’t stray from Sinatra. Nonetheless, all singers, I guess, 5 of them in total, were capable of Jazz singing.

During dinner, I noticed that the new flag of Myanmar, my country, was flapping in the wind next to the flags of Germany and Australia. That came as a surprise, a shock in fact really, because usually our flag could not be found outside of the country.  No one bothers to include us. Many of them don’t even know Burma and Myanmar are actually the same country. So does this mean that our little known country has come a long way? Or did they just raise the flag because they knew I was coming? Ha! - It definitely got me pondering.

The four-course dinner, as advertised, was actually three if the tiny gimmicky foie gras aka “amuse bouche” was minus-ed.  I chose lobster tail confit for appetizer and the snapper for main. The fish was well-cooked, spiced and superbly presented.  I thoroughly enjoyed it. The desert, white chocolate something-something was decent but after the dinner, I felt so bloated. I ate too much. (I should have eaten only half the fish and not finished the desert but it was too late.) During our dinner, 8 of us shared 5 bottles of sparkling wine and by the time we finished, we were gooooooood to go. So we left the table and set out for the dance floor.

People decked out in various shades of white started arriving around 10. To some of them, dressing up was a serious business. Their effort to look head-to-toe nautical was apparent. I spotted some beautiful people. And I also spotted some seriously sun- baked ones. (Some people in Bali take sun-tanning to a whole new height.) They looked irregularly tanned and tragic, even more so because of their white attire.(WHY?????????????? Please don’t do that to yourself!)

After an hour or so, they announced that the show was going to take place on the dancing floor. The so-called sailor extravaganza featured three Caucasian chicks in sexy-sailor-slut uniform leading an army of Indonesian backup dancers (Or were they really the kitchen staff dressed up as sailors?)  It was amusing to see these three Amazonian leggy girls dancing with the male dancers who were half their sizes. Honestly, the girls were hot; they knew it and they were so full of it. (If only they knew how much I had to convince JJ to believe that they were real girls, not trannies.) The Andrews Sisters style boogie-woogie tune (It could be Bette Midler’s version of it, I’m not sure) combined with Village People’s “In The Navy” was fun but honestly it did not make an eye-popping experience. I thought t was a cheap production somehow. Especially when KDT charged more than 150 bucks per head (75 bucks without the dinner), I believe they could do better than that. I would not mind watching a proper dance troupe or even a local but well-known singer perform.

The drinks were not outrageously expensive by KDT standard but they were extremely weak.  I should have stuck to wine or beer.  When you pay 15 bucks a drink, you do expect a decent one. I was very disappointed so I decided to improve “The Situation”. On my third visit to the bar, I came up with a scheme, a classic one. I let the bartender keep the change (which was about 6 dollars, definitely not small money if you work in a bar in Indonesia). I did that again on my fourth visit. The same bartender gleefully accepted the tips but the condition of my drinks never improved.  So, on my next visits (10 in total), I patiently waited until my hard-earned money got returned from the cashier and kept giving that bartender a sullen face. Nothing comes for free, baby! And...since we are on the subject, here’s one more rant. The water bottle they sold at the venue, though freaking expensive, was not even a standard-sized bottle, instead a mini one.  If this wasn’t a rip-off, I don’t know what is.

DJ Karizma and DJ Spen played House music. They did a fantastic job, I must say. The crowd’s response was overwhelming. We had such a blast dancing on the vibrating dance floor and in front of the stage where we obviously got ‘seen’.  After a while though, the music wore us out. We needed a new inspiration to keep us going or perhaps some familiar dance tunes that we could sing along to. Our wish was granted eventually when they played “Ain’t no mountain high enough” (unfortunately not Diana Ross’s version) and “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer. These timeless disco tunes still put people on fire. I hadn’t danced like that in a while.

Spicing up the hot, steamy night, there was also a brawl between two white boys over God-knows-what. Really, was it necessary?  They were punching each other and throwing stuff.  How juvenile! Some people can’t hold their drinks eh?  It was immediately put out by the security guards and the party went on of course. Such sad little creatures!

Our group was solid. We kept drinking, jiggling and having so much fun. My friend Carlos and I in particular had a ball dancing up the storm along with the Latin beats they played, sometimes sandwiching the girls in between.  (It took me back to the parties of Rio and Buenos Aires.)  I left the party around 3:30 in the morning with aching leg muscles but definitely great memories to cherish. I was happy to go home to sleep.

At breakfast the next morning, JJ and I talked about the party and we realized that together we spent almost 600 bucks which is more than a month salary for many in Indonesia. We are fortunate that we could fork out such money for a night of pure amusement and drinks. It was indeed an expensive fun even by an international standard but the important thing is that we don’t do this often. Besides, we had a wonderful time shared with good friends. At the end of the day, finding bliss is really not about what you do, spend or where you are at, it is about who you are with. Here’s to fun, friends and fiesta.

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