Bali is back: Your music lover's guide to every kind of clubbing Bali has to offer
As the island roars back to live, so do its clubs. Here's where to drink & dance to really good music in Bali.
We wouldn’t be wrong to say that Bali has hundreds—if not thousands—of drinking dens. The island has something for everyone, from daytime tipples to shaken sundowners to late-night libations—the offerings are exceptionally diverse. We’ve been invited to parties that deliver anything from shamanic house music in a séance-style villa setting to temple parties deep in the jungles outside of Ubud and of course warehouse raves that go until that ungodly hour when you have to navigate your way home in blinding sun and traffic. Because there is so much going on, it’s good to try and talk to people to find out who and what since it can get overwhelming, but we’ve whipped up a get-you-started list that most fans of Mixmag should appreciate. We like good music, and our meanderings around the Island of the Gods are usually based on places we can drink and listen to the music we love.
BEACH & DAY CLUBS
The king of all beach clubs in Bali, Savaya reigns supreme over Uluwatu with its sparkling and cinematic glass Cube and is well worth the trek from Seminyak and so on. Purpose-built to shine bright like a diamond along the soaring limestone cliffs of eastern Uluwatu by Las Vegas' Hakkasan Group (the venue was formerly called OMNIA, you might have heard of it), the pandemic had other plans for the venue and the day club assumed new ownership as well as a rebrand that leans more towards local but still luxury-inspired flavours. Now called Savaya, the open-air venue has had no trouble filling its sprawling space with thanks to unmatched glitz and glamour (even on an island of luxury, Savaya still comes out on top). Events at Savaya span anyone from Seth Troxler, Nicole Moudaber, and Lee Burridge (who brought his All Day You Can Dream showcase twice as well as monumental Cercle performance to the venue's first incarnation) through to more commercial names like Sam Feldt and hip hop talents like Lil' Pump. That said, it's also a first choice for local promoters to organise extravaganzas, and you'll often get brands like Mantrapeople and the PNNY collective taking over the entire space when they're looking to do something extra special. What we're saying is Savaya hosts some of the best events in Bali every single weekend; just make sure to check their programme to make sure it's in line with your expectations on that particular day. Big spenders will love their ultra-exclusive gazebos, but you'll have just as good of a time on their dance floor. God forbid you forget to dress your absolute best, however, and if you don't, you'll feel out of place fast. But take it for what it is, an opportunity to make an effort if you've gotten too used to flips flops and beachwear.
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Uluwatu Ulu Cliffhouse
If you’ve never been to Bali and you have this idyllic image in your head of what partying on the Island of the Gods is like, you’re picturing Ulu Cliffhouse. Located on the other side of Uluwatu from Savaya nestled along the rocky west coast with beach access (if you’re sober enough to climb that is), Ulu Cliffhouse delivers a wine and dine experience backdropped by panoramic sunset views and soundtracked by DJs well into the night (staying nearby is recommended). The 50,000ft² clifftop playground has welcomed top tier names like Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox, Hot Since 82, Guy Gerber and more over the years, and doesn’t seem to have slowed down post-pandemic having just hosted Peggy Gou (which was a good marketing move since nothing say “we’re back” like videos of Peggy in Bali flooding social media halfway around the world) and have Rudimental on the calendar later this May. Event or not, Ulu Cliffhouse is a stellar place to spend a sunny afternoon throwing back tipples on a Tuesday afternoon whilst contemplating a career change that will allow you to work from Bali 365 days a year. The wanderlust is real at Ulu Cliffhouse and is reaffirmed by a sophisticated music selection that isn’t scaring any music snobs away.
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Seminyak Desa Potato Head
We are huge fans of Potato Head around here. They won our hearts as soon as they opened in 2010, not just for their beachfront location in the heart of Seminyak (which makes for one of the most photographed sunset infinity pools on the island) but also for an uber-cool music meets sustainability experience where one will quickly forget they're drinking a cocktail made from kitchen scraps as they boogie to DJ Harvey playing on a DJ booth made from upcycled plastic. Or maybe you've seen its colosseum-inspired façade, which is made of colourful repurposed teak shutters and has become somewhat iconic on Instagram (you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who walks in without snapping a picture).
Just before the pandemic, Potato Head Beach Club as we know it was set to become Desa Potato Head, mushrooming its empire from simply being known as a beach club to a creative village that merges music with sustainability, wellness, and local craft. Finally opening to the public in 2022, Desa Potato Head, which was designed together with Managing Partner and Architect David Gianotten at OMA, the Dutch practice founded by Rem Koolhaas, now includes two show-stopping beachfront infinity pools, two hotels with the newest one offering artist residencies for those looking to create, a music library, a listening room, a streaming booth made from 564 kgs of upcycled plastic, an art gallery, a pop-up rooftop DJ booth, and a couple of restaurants including one dedicated to plant-based fine dining-style experiences. We're not even done yet, but our word count is.
Desa Potato Head represents the modern Indonesian creative community and sets a global benchmark for making sustainability mainstream—and we haven't even touched on music yet. The long laundry list includes artists like Grace Jones, Disclosure, Gilles Peterson, Peggy Gou, Richie Hawtin, Honey Dijon, Mount Kimbie, Danny Tenaglia, et. all (actually). But what really makes Potato Head's music programme stand out is its local focus, and the space acts as an incubator for Indonesian talent with distinctive and unusual music selections, offering them a place and platform to cut their teeth and spend solid time behind the decks. Their ethos is to bring the voices, stories, and sounds of Indonesia to the entire world's attention. Anyone who gets high on the word creative will relish in every activation that's branded by Potato Head. See you there, on the rooftop, for sunset.
Read this next: Desa Potato Head unveils an online archive of 4,000+ pieces of rave ephemera
Berawa Morabito Art Villa
Morabito Art Villa breaks the mould when it comes to beach clubs—it might be situated along the beach in Berawa but it’s more of a sunset to late-night destination where the cool kids of Canggu mingle. In fact, the space is exactly what its name suggests: an oversized Bali-style 14-bedroom villa with four swimming pools, a private spa, cinema room, and so on, all adorned with art, from sculptures that mix contemporary and ancient works to oversized wall art and custom-designed furniture that complements the alfresco gallery aesthetic. The flowery garden-feeling one-hectare tropical park has ample space for the crowds it draws, which often feels like the Burning Man community has arrived in Bali. For that reason, a lot of the international DJs who are playing other gigs on the island often drop by and play impromptu gigs—don’t be surprised if you walk in on a random Saturday night and Lauren Lane is playing. But that’s how loved the venue and its owner is; French architect Pascal Morabito alongside his fleet of internationally recognised friends and family helps keep the reputation strong despite very little marketing done.
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Canggu La Brisa
La Brisa is a day club slash beach club slash night club that sees as many top tier DJs as it does families and influencers—it’s huge and just seems to swing both ways in the best way possible. The iconic venue has been built entirely out of reclaimed wood from more than 500 old fisherman boats and is meticulously hand-decorated, which makes for a picture-perfect clubbing experience, especially when brands like Boiler Room come to town. As a music venue, La Brisa has become known not just for its DJ booth looking out over the crashing waves of Canggu but also for delivering well-curated boutique affairs for those with a discerning ear for music. Its current day popularity is at least in part thanks to the PNNY collective and Bali-based talent Tiago Oudman, who has been throwing his beloved Basement Love series at the space for years and brought names like DJ Boring, Peak & Swift, Gerd Janson, HAAi, and ND Baumecker. Just make sure you check the schedule before you go so you don’t end up doing an ecstatic dance if a techno shuffle is more your thing.
Seminyak Mari Beach Club
Nature-based design and cultural inspiration set Mari Beach Club apart from the rest of the Bali lot. Sitting pretty along Batu Belig Beach, Mari reaffirms its commitment to Balinese hospitality, heritage, and craftsmanship by using bamboo, wood, thatched roofs, and open-air spaces to create a symbiosis between sustainable architecture and the natural environment that surrounds it. The programming by Jakarta-based music director Muktito Adhitya matches its boho vibe and DJs soundtrack sunsets with anything from Afro house to ethnic-tinged techno. Although the beach club on just opened, it’s already picking up praise amongst music elitists in Bali for its impeccable programming in an easy-breezy vibe. Experiences are set to include food and wellness in the coming months as Mari gears up for a long-awaited opening that is set to be spread out over the next couple of months. Look out for this one!
Read this next: Bali teases a new oceanfront boho beach club for music lovers
Mrs Sippy is a pool club extraordinaire for those who enjoy the flashier things in life as well as heaps of Instagrammable moments. But it also does a stellar job at straddling the fine line between a commercially driven audience and selling them on an ultra-cool music policy that has seen artists like Yolanda Be Cool, Basement Jaxx, Digitalism, Cassius, Claptone, Classixx, Riva Starr and Purple Disco Machine play alongside its oversized saltwater pool. That same ice-blue pool is flanked by palm trees and a 10-metre high custom diving platform that will make all your aerial Instagram dreams come true. As long as you’re not an asshole and go with an open mind, and know that influencers come with the territory, you’re gonna have a good time here along with all the other young at hearts. Mrs Sippy closed for most of the pandemic and only just recently reopened, but Darren Emerson has already played and we’re pretty sure they’re just getting started as the island quickly roars back to life. Go on, indulge yourself in that frozen strawberry daiquiri—this is exactly the place to do it!
Vault is one of the island’s most loved subterranean nightclubs. The club and its cocktail bunker are hidden in the bowels of a strip mall in Berawa and for that reason, it gives off a bit of an oh-so-secret underground experience. Programming runs the gamut across sounds and styles but the focus is typically on house and techno on Friday nights and hip hop on Saturdays with a little bit of this and that in between, all blasted through a VOID Acoustics sound system. The club also runs late, so it’s a good choice for nightcrawlers looking for somewhere to go and make bad decisions laaaaaate. Dark, raw, and loud, Vault doesn’t need to count on international booking to fill the house—it’s just always busy. But in the short time it was open before COVID, it hosted Trus’Me, Jackmaster, Amine K, Richy Ahmed, Lee Foss, Art Department and even Jazzy Jeff. Now that Bali is back to life, Vault appears to be thankful it survived and is gearing up to continue upon the trajectory it started on. To celebrate its third anniversary, the club has recently announced an overhaul and marketed it as Vault 2.0, and while we haven’t been since then, we’re expecting them to be turning up the volume on events as the island opens back up.
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Seminyak Red Ruby
Red Ruby is always a raucous good time. Getting its name from the ruby red hues that flood the venue (a hugely flattering colour) complemented by cages to dance in and enough disco balls to make even the purest music fan happy, the club seduces with its sultry atmosphere and impresses with its music selection. Red Ruby draws inspiration from New York City’s disco era in style and the avant-garde clubs that you’ll find across Europe in sound. A touch of glam elevates it from being too underground, making it accessible to all—and we really mean all. Because of its prime location in Seminyak, Red Ruby brings house and techno to the tourists, delivering anything from a locally curated line-tup to top tier international acts. Local loves like Shammui, El Didion, Jazzerimo, Kaiser Waldon, and Wisdy make regular appearances on the weekly agenda, while global numbers like The Martinez Brothers, Oskar Offerman, Rammo and Detroit Swindle have all graced the club’s decks. Hip hop? They play that too—it's all part of the party.
Though technically closed at the time of writing, we have it on good authority that Mejen will soon reopen in a new, purpose-built home. Here’s how the Mejan story starts: DesØner are a very cool Canggu-based collective that were putting on some fiercely cool nights at random venues, like a warung north of Raya Canggu is where we first serendipitously stumbled upon them. Then they moved to Mejan, still a warung-style venue but this time in the heart of Echo Beach with waves crashing right up to the venue. They became known as the sunset spot for discerning music fans, playing blistering techno from dusk until well into the night. But the rickety area where Mejan was located was torn down, so to not lose momentum, they got to work building their own venue. Mejan Bar is coming soon, and we’ll update this story when it does.
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Every city needs a ShiShi. For what it is, it’s executed flawlessly: oversized, posh, and thoroughly polished—ShiShi gives you a reason to wear high heels. The ShiShi experience ascends three distinct floors, with the first door dedicated to an all-you-can-eat Asian-style dining experience with a live DJ. But forget what you know about all-you-can-eat; this menu boasts wagyu, truffle, and tons of sushi. While the second-floor club room typically caters to an EDM slash mainstream audience, with sell-out nights for Barong Family DJs, Ramengvrl, Bizzey, and Weird Genius, ShiShi also makes a considerable effort to give the underground an opportunity to enjoy its second-floor room—the dark black hole with a VOID Acoustics sound system is just begging to bang out some techno. (For the record, Bobby Suryaadi of Stadium Jakarta fame is regularly billed). Full disclosure: we tend to stay away from the third floor as it’s just not our vibe, but we’ve also been to ShiShi many, many times, so there is no hiding that we love it. Well, the first two floors at least. ShiShi only opened in December of 2019, so it hasn’t really had a chance to shine with the pandemic shutting things down shortly after, but it’s here to stay and has limitless potential—and we’re excited to see where it goes.
Warehouse got its start during the pandemic as the de facto after-hours spot when a lot of other venues were "closed" so it became really popular, really fast. Warehouse occupies the same space that was once known as Santa Fe, a longtime institution that drew crowds for its 24-hour live music policy and shroom shakes in accompaniment. A redo saw it lean toward a strictly house and techno experience in a dark and dingy venue (in the best meaning of that word, and how it should be if you ask us), but always with beautiful people who are looking to keep the party going till sunrise as the islands best selectors look for a place to play records after they've finished their gigs elsewhere for the night. With the help of some big bookings in the Afrohouse movement, as well as being friendly to the scene stalwarts in Bali, it doesn't get more underground than this when it comes to gritty after-hours. We're so on board with this new direction, which will hopefully only get louder now that Bali is open to the masses.
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Seminyak Studio Eksotika
While Studio Eksotika is technically inside Desa Potato Head, it's worthy of its own write-up. Why? Because nowhere else in Bali can you indulge yourself in music and books like you can at Studio Eksotika. Part audiophile allure, part bookworm bliss, Studio Eksotika is a locally-accented listening bar that serves thoughtfully created libations alongside a collection of thought-provoking books on art, sustainability, and music culture, which you can flip through while listening to vinyl records curated by Jakarta-born DJ Dea Barandana that range from 70s Indonesia disco to new-age Japanese jazz. Not only that, but the space itself is a design lover's dream with carefully-tuned acoustics that are all part of the aesthetic. Inspired by Tokyo's dimly-lit and low-key listening venues, the venue also plays host to left-field acts like live music outfit Gabber Modus Operandi all the way through to global names like Ben UFO and Wolf Müller. The space, however, is multi-functional and can also be enjoyed during the daytime for anyone who needs a quiet place to work that might conjure up some creativity at the same time.
Berawa Velvet Room
The great thing about Bali (amongst many) is that no matter how many spaces open up, they will always fill up—there are just that many people. But every once in a while you get one space that’s really special, and when we heard a BPM Festival founder opened a club, our interest was officially piqued. Velvet Room has only just soft-opened its doors a crawl from Morabito, which poises it as an official afterparty spot for anyone who wants to keep going after the art villa. It’s one of two spaced planned by Ralf Madi, with Velvet Century Room to follow, and promises a different music policy than what we’ve gotten used to on the island. The dimly lit late-night boudoir is, obviously, draped in velvet and is open late, like realllllly late, so meet us by the bar and make sure to say hi.
Seminyak Woobar at W Bali
W Bali gets credit for being one of the first venues for bringing international acts to Bali and placing them right in front of you while golden hour does its thing above the Indian Ocean—it’s the kind of stuff that gets you all the likes on Instagram. Split between the pool deck and subterranean nightclub, we don’t have the space to list out all of the stellar talents that have played there over the years, but we’re talking anyone from Derrick Carter to Sasha, Anja Schneider, Claptone, Honey Dijon, James Zabiela, Oliver Koletzki, Sebastien Leger, M.A.N.D.Y, and Art Department all the way through to full-on Defected takeovers; its music director Damian Saint is an actual saint for his efforts at the venue over the years. The in-house recording studio—called the Sound Suite—makes it a premier destination for DJs who are looking to get a little studio time in while on holiday in Bail (can you think of a better place to find inspiration?) and helps with attracting high-calibre talent. We always have time and always have room in our hearts for this Bali mainstay, especially at sunset.
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Seminyak Da Maria
So much more than just a pizza place. Da Maria delivers Osteria-style pizzas by day and a bacchanalian clubbing experience by night, which is largely powered by the PNNY collective who transforms whatever the touch to party gold. Da Maria's Instagram is a journey through the best things about food, wine, and music, which in its entirety sets you up with the perfect night out: start with the pappardelle, pair with Lazarus Pulp, and end with a boogie on the bar. Depending on the night of the week, you might get hip hop, or you might get house; just stay on top of their highly curated social media accounts to know what’s on the table that week. Or just follow the crowds, because there is always a crowd.
Bars (that moonlight as clubs)
Seminyak 40 Thieves
We’re inclined to call 40 Thieves one of the OG staples in Bali’s craft cocktail community. Find the secret entrance hidden away above Mad Ronin ramen shop on Jalan Petitenget (slurp down a bowl on your way up, the ramen is fantastic), and despite its second-floor location, it still feels like an underground experience. Aside from strong cocktails, 40 Thieves has long been building DJ-centric nights and thanks to ample space, a dance floor gets going pretty early into the night—it’s not unheard of for people to dance and the bars when they run out of room elsewhere. Come early and stay late for the best of both worlds.
Berawa Shady Pig
Self-described as a "Sipping Club", Shady Pig is a late-night haunt that really came through for those who stayed in Bali during the pandemic—there was a line-up out the door most nights it was open. Fans of Peaky Blinders rejoice because The Shady Pig draws inspiration from the glamour, the decadence, and the roughness of the 20s. The owners refer to it as a contraband laboratory, which is just a fancy term for an experimental cocktail bar that moonlights as a bustling nightclub. If you're into barrel-aged cocktails and wagyu canapés, go early, because after 10pm you'll be shoulder to shoulder with the glitterati of Bali's nightlife scene. Musical accompaniment starts with live jazz and blues for the early birds before a DJ takes over and keeps the party going strong until the early hours of the morning. A hangover is guaranteed.
Read this next: Yum Cha Chats: Immerse yourself in Bali-style wellness practices with Dipha Barus
Seminyak/Berawa Behind The Green Door
A new kid on the Bali block, but welcome addition to the island's bubbling music community thanks to a guerilla-style buzz across social circles largely ignited by curators Thomas Alexandre and Joshua Adjodha—but first, you'll need to find it (look behind the green door, duh) and then you'll need to know the password to be let in. Once you're in, don't be fooled like we were if you walk in and assume it's just another cocktail bar; decadence and debauchery unfold after midnight. But let's start with the cocktails: yes, it's a cocktail bar first and foremost. The owners are big on European spirits and built a cosy concept around it, blending high-end cocktails with late-night debauchery in a lush and intimate space. Labelled as a music emporium, Behind The Green Door lends a platform to a wide variety of talent, from international acts looking to squeeze in one last show to newcomers looking to cut their teeth somewhere. Open every night of the week, you might stumble in after dinner and hear anything from tech-house tunes to R&B classics and even early evening jazz. Come early, stay late, leave drunk—but first, don't get lost looking for it!
Photos via: Cover Image: Desa Potato Head, Paulius Staniunas (Desa Potato Head), Secret Life Bali (Red Ruby), @tugs_ward (Mrs Sippy), CN Traveller (Da Maria)
Olivia Wycech is Mixmag Asia’s Culture Editor, follow her on Instagram.