Arts & Culture

Bar Gina: A Bar Without Judgement

Thoughts on gender equality and nightlife

Words by
Joice Tentry

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

If you drive along Suryo Street in 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 on the logo and the name of the bar are just some hints of how Bar Gina has established itself as a feminist bar in Jakarta.

Opened last October, Bar Gina’s all-female owners wanted to instate feminism and gender equality as the establishment’s theme.

And it can be seen almost in every corner of the bar: the Last Supper mural painting with the faces of women who have made an impact on the world, the lighting and ambience, choice of drinks, events and partnerships with feminist communities, and the requisite presence of women in all bands that perform live.

Besides its message on feminism and gender equality, Gina is also unique in that it bears the personal touches of its owners. For instance, they made the seating arrangements and signature cocktails. The owners also sculpted the cocktail glass for their signature drink, Gina Tipsy Tea.

Open from Monday to Saturday, from 6pm, Gina offers various entertainments like live music, karaoke nights and special events, all aimed to allow their customers to have fun and feel like they belong, or as Claudia, one of the owners, puts it, “feel like it’s their second home.”

How does Bar Gina differ from the 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?” Women usually do not have a room to themselves, where they will not be disturbed. There are also many men (in those places) who think, “Oh, this girl is drunk. I can take her home.” We do not want such harassment here.

We want women to feel comfortable and safe here.

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

Claudia (owner): Bar Gina first started because we wanted to find a fun hangout place in Jakarta. 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 lived in New York back then and there was a bar called Bar Moga. It’s a feminist bar that only purchased alcohols from brands with female leaders. 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 to you, especially in a country with a patriarchal culture like Indonesia?

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

Feminism means as a woman, we empower other women. 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 many 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. If you want to come wearing sandals, tank tops, or skirts for guys, you can. This is a bar without judgement. We want to have a crowd that is comfortable with themselves and they don’t feel like they’re being judged. And so far, it has worked. One time, we had a customer coming only in a bralette, and no one even cared or judged her. A guy once came wearing a pair of super tight pants, and no one judged him. I think everyone feels safe here. We have built a safe atmosphere from the start. People know that this is a gender-equality bar, so those 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 and bars, which is good. Back then, and maybe even until now, words like “bar”, “club” or “lounge” had a stigma. But now, I think people are getting more and more open-minded.

What is your personal favourite cocktail from Bar Gina?

My favourite would be… I have a lot, how do I choose? I think it would have to be the Lady Boss. But I can’t say it’s an ultimate favourite because it depends on my mood. Each of our cocktails tastes very different. We have spicy, sweet, sour and creamy flavours. So it really depends on your mood.

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