UP, the trendy new hangout for hipsters in Jakarta

A DJ performance at UP creative space in the posh Dharmawangsa area of South Jakarta.
A DJ performance at UP creative space in the posh Dharmawangsa area of South Jakarta. PHOTO: JP/MARCEL THEE

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Their numbers may pale in comparison to those of official clubs and hangout venues, but hubs like the simply named UP in the posh Dharmawangsa area of South Jakarta, are beginning to provide a welcome alternative.

With their smaller scale - sometimes not much bigger than a large living room - and private party atmosphere, spaces such as UP engage through their individual characteristics.

They make visitors feel like they are partying or watching a performance at a friend’s place. Almost everybody knows one another and the ones who do not are there to make new friends.

The name UP itself was picked because of the place’s location on the second floor.

“It has always been a passion,” says Mr Baldi Calvianca, one of UP’s founders, on why he is always on the prowl for new spaces.

He and his friends have done it before, though no space has had the success that UP has had. Barely half a year old, the space has already hosted numerous events — mostly underground parties where DJs spin obscure records and sometimes underground bands play intimate sets.

“Every time we come across a new, special place, we become really hyped and immediately just want to throw a really great party,” Mr Baldi explains.

When he and his buddies found Pelaspas, the space that would become UP, they knew this was it. The place had nice acoustics, which is the most important thing for music-centered venues, and its location, in Mr Baldi’s words, was “hidden and not too big — it totally gave off that underground feel”. 

Hipsters in Jakarta mingling at the underground UP creative space in Dharmawangsa, South Jakarta. PHOTO: JP/MARCEL THEE

“It was a unique space where we knew we could put on a variety of different kinds of events,” says Mr Baldi.

Right away, he and his friends hooked up with other underground crews, including one called No Hard Feeling, which also regularly hosted underground parties.

Both of them then began reeling in other DJs, music curators and artists to engage in both the place’s decor and its initial parties.

Like most 20somethings, the UP crew was very young during the 1990s and as such hold a romantic view of it. They particularly loved the '90s warehouse parties scene, a strong precursor to post-2000 underground hipster parties.

“We find a lot of inspiration in that as well as the global underground party scene, the spirit of which is very inspiring,” Mr Baldi explains. “There are also a lot of online radio stations that inspire us.”

At such a tender age, UP still needs to be renovated and fully decorated. This is what its founders are planning to do in the coming months.

Hipsters often find new friends and collaboration opportunities for their next obscure art projects during gatherings at UP. PHOTO: JP/MARCEL THEE

“It’s pretty simple looking now. We don’t really have the budget to decorate yet, only the willingness to do this,” Mr Baldi says.

UP is currently a “pop-up event space”, meaning that it opens its doors to the public only when there is an event happening.

The rest of the time, it works as a hub for Mr Baldi and his friends to engage in their individual creative activities - everything from recording their music, making mixes, drawing up fliers and more.

“Eventually, we’d like it to be a place that opens every day, so people can come in and out freely and do whatever cool, creative thing they want to do,” says Mr Baldi, who says the end goal is to be a centre for “subcultural events”.

The small space allows more intimacy among visitors during parties. PHOTO: JP/MARCEL THEE

“In our heads, UP will be a place to hold art exhibitions, audio visual performances, even more DJ-based events, a place where you would screen films and documentaries, to maybe even hold meditation classes,” he says.

The UP guys even plan on eventually holding a music festival, something that seems very possible since most of them are players in the underground rock scene as well.

“It’s important for us that this feels like a place where people from different backgrounds feel comfortable visiting,” he says. 

UP has hosted events that include the launch of No Hard Feeling’s online radio station, a Cinco De Mayo themed collaboration with the diner Taco Local and collaboration with Norm Radio from Bandung.

The response has been overwhelming, likely thanks to the clout and network its founders have as DJs and musicians.

“It’s pretty much always packed and I can tell that everyone feels comfortable when they are there,” says Mr Baldi, adding that UP doesn’t want to have the intimidating feel of nightclubs. “There is always a good vibe.”