Bar Gina: A Bar Without Judgment

Thoughts on gender equality and nightlife.
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“Gender equality and nightlife have something in common in Indonesia. Both aren’t fully accepted yet.”

If you drive by Suryo street situated at South Jakarta, you will notice a signage on your right, a neon pink logo that might remind you of either a cocktail glass or a woman’s genitalia. The playful twist in the logo and the name of the bar is just a hint of how Bar Gina established itself as a feminist bar in Jakarta.

Launched in October 6th 2018, Bar Gina was founded by all-female owners as a cocktail bar that brought up the issue of feminism and gender equality as its theme. It can be seen almost in every corner of the bar - the “Last Supper” mural painting with faces of impactful women throughout history, the lighting and ambiance, choice of drinks, events and partnerships with feminist communities, and the obligatory presence of women for all bands that perform for the live music.

Besides its message on feminism and gender equality, Gina is also unique with the personal touches of its owners. For instance, the seating arrangements and recipes of their signature cocktails are personally made by the owners. Their very own special cocktail glass for their signature “Gina Tipsy Tea” was also sculpted and handmade by them.

Open from Monday to Saturday starting at 6PM, Gina offered various entertainments like Live Music, Karaoke Night, and occasional special events, all aimed to make their customers have fun and feel like they belong, or quoted from Claudia, one of the owners, “feel like it’s their second home.”

How does Bar Gina differ from other bars in Jakarta?

Rani (Head of Marketing & PR): We want a safe place for everyone to hang out, dance, sing, talk, and do whatever they want without being judged. When you go to other places, you will see people judging, “Why do women drink? Why do women smoke?” and women usually do not have one room for all the ladies without getting disturbed. There are also a lot of men (in those places) who think, “Oh, this girl is drunk, I can ‘take her home’,” and we do not want such harassment to happen here.

We want women to feel comfortable and safe here.

Even from the drinks, our drinks are more “ladylike”, with more of sweet, sour, and fruity taste, and less bitterness.

Claudia (owner): Bar Gina first started because we (the owners) wanted to find a fun hangout place in Jakarta, and when we first opened, cocktail houses were still not popular. So, we wanted to be one of the pioneers of a cocktail bar. Why a feminist bar? We want to provide a comfortable hangout place for girls. But it does not mean that guys cannot come here. This is a gender equality bar. We got the idea when we still lived in New York back then and there was a bar called Bar Moga. It’s a feminist bar who only purchased alcohols from brands with female leaders. Because it’s a difficult thing to apply in Jakarta, so we show that we are a feminist bar through the painting, colour theme, and design.

What does “feminism” mean for you, especially in a country with patriarchal culture like Indonesia?

Feminism in Indonesia is getting more popular, and more people are starting to truly understand the term of feminism. Back then, people associate feminists to anti-men, but it is actually not that.

Feminism means as a woman, we empower other women. That other women are not competition, we’re all friends and we fight in this life together.

So I think feminism in Indonesia is getting better. It is still growing, I cannot say that there are a lot of feminists in Indonesia, but I’ve seen several feminism communities in Jakarta. And events like Women’s March is also actively held each year, which is good. And we’re happy to see this.

What kind of “vibe” do you want the customers to feel when they visit?

First of all, we want our customers to feel welcome. We accept anyone and any gender. We do not have any rules on clothing. Either you want to come wearing sandals, tank tops, or guys wearing skirts, you can. This is a bar without judgement. We want to have a crowd who is comfortable with themselves and they don’t feel like they’re judged. And so far, it works. One time, we have a customer coming only in a bralette and no one even cared or judged her. A guy had also ever come wearing a super tight pants, no one judged. I think everyone feels safe here. We have built that safe atmosphere from the start and people know that this is a gender equality bar, so people who come here are those who appreciate equality.

How do you perceive the nightlife lifestyle in Jakarta?

I think Jakarta’s nightlife is getting more modern each year. There are more clubs, more bars, which is good. Back then, and maybe even until now, when people heard the word “bar”, or “club”, or “lounge”, it has a negative stigma. But now, I think people are getting more used to it and more open minded.

What is your personal favourite menu from Bar Gina?

My favourite would be.... I have a lot, how do I choose? I think it is the Lady Boss. But I can’t say it’s an ultimate favourite because it depends on my mood. Our cocktails taste very different from one to another. We have spicy flavour, sweet, sour, creamy, so it really depends on your mood.

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