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RIP Stadium: Haven for forbidden pleasures

Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta  Fri, May 23, 2014

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Shuttered: People pass the Stadium nightclub in Hayam Wuruk, Jakarta, on Thursday. The Jakarta administration closed down the notorious nightspot following the death of a policeman, who died from a drug overdose. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

 

 

Thursday night is traditionally party night at Jakarta’s underground icon, the Stadium nightclub.
But police lines and a closure notice at the club’s entrance suggest that its 16-year journey as a provider of all the hedonistic pleasures Jakarta can offer may have come to an end.
The Stadium, which is located on Jl. Hayam Wuruk in Central Jakarta, was a one-stop entertainment spot where all forms of enjoyment were provided to an extreme degree.
Not only did the club host a 24-hour partying scene, with a high tolerance for drug-taking, it also served as a strip club and brothel.
The 6,000-square-meter club, which could hold around 5,000 revelers, was laid out over four floors, of which the first recently hosted an ongoing strip show.
Private rooms for rent for around-the-clock karaoke, drug-taking and erotic parties were available on the second floor of the premises.
“You could stay there (in the private rooms) and party for as long as you wanted without having to worry about police raids,” said Tirto, 32, a regular visitor.
Aside from a lounge, the club’s third floor was where rooms were rented out for prostitution. The Stadium even pioneered in 2000 the use of credit and debit cards to pay for commercial sex.
“In-house” sex workers were usually organized into several groups led by pimps who roamed around the floor offering the girls’ services to customers.
Drugs and prostitution are illegal in Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.
But the Stadium’s fourth floor was undeniably the center of gravity, amplified to reach the ears of all clubbers in Southeast Asia, where the word “Stadium” became a generic term for extreme partying in Jakarta.
Clubbers were mostly hypnotized by the effect brought on by the intake of ecstasy pills amid the mind-blowing spectacle of lasers and the progressive tunes played by some of the world and Jakarta’s finest DJs.
“When you were on the dance floor, it was the sense of brotherhood that made the place a legend. Unlike in other clubs, you could just party without limits,” Tirto said.
The Stadium had a notorious program dubbed by diehard Jakarta clubbers as minggu ceria (cheerful Sunday), where partygoers arrived on Friday night and did not leave the premises until Monday.
More recent regulars nicknamed the Stadium the rumah eyang (a Javanese term meaning “grandparents’ house”), or “campus”, as it was usually visited by university students on the weekend to “study” worldly pleasures. Clubbers usually dubbed themselves cucu-cucu eyang (grandchildren).
The Stadium was reportedly set up by ethnic Chinese businessman Rudi Rajamas, now in his 60s, in 1997 as part of a business expansion, having owned the Rajamas club.
Back then, the Stadium was popularly known as a brothel and gambling den before becoming a club.
However, as the club regularly invited world-class DJs in the early 2000s, amid a boom in the intake of ecstasy pills among Jakarta’s middle class, it gradually earned its latter-day reputation.
Its success raised Rudi’s profile, becoming a household name as Jakarta’s king of nighttime entertainment.
His portfolio eventually expanded to include the Malioboro Hotel and Spa, a strip club on Jl. Gajah Mada in Central Jakarta; the Sumo Spa in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, and the recently opened Exodus Club in Kuningan City, South Jakarta.
However, the arrival of new competitors nearby, particularly the Colosseum club and Illigals, gradually began to eclipse the Stadium from early last year.
The Colosseum, which officially opened late last year and hosted global luminaries in the electronic dance music scene, was regarded as the Stadium’s main rival.
The club, which boasted it had the best sound system in Southeast Asia, is owned by Rudi’s rival, Alex Tirta, who is known for his flagship strip club, the Alexis Hotel and Spa.
As competition became stiffer, amid repeated police raids on nightclubs, the death of a policeman due to a suspected drug overdose at the Stadium may well prove to be the last nail in the club’s coffin.
Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said on Sunday he would no longer tolerate the operation of the club after officer Jicky Vay Gumerung, 22, died on Friday morning.
Following Ahok’s order, the Jakarta Tourism Agency revoked the club’s operating license on Monday.
An ensuing raid by the West Jakarta Police at the club found 4,500 ecstasy pills, 600 grams of methamphetamine and a Berretta handgun inside several lockers used by the club’s security personnel, according to Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto.
Rikwanto said the police suspected the drugs were owned by a network of drug traffickers.
However, despite their suspicions that the club’s management may have been part of the network, Rikwanto said the police had yet to question the club’s managers.
“Before we question the management, we need track down the security personnel who used the lockers. They will lead us to other suspects.”
Despite this latest turn of events, the Stadium is unlikely to go down without a fight.
Chairman of Jakarta’s night entertainment association, Adrian Mailite, said the group would lobby the authorities to give the Stadium a “second chance”. “At least 300 workers will lose their jobs. We strongly oppose the closure,” Adrian said. “The club should not be closed just because one bad, drunken cop died there.”
Ahok, however, was unmoved by the plea. “It’s a permanent shutdown. I won’t allow the management to change the club’s name and reopen it,” Ahok said on Thursday.
Jakarta Tourism Agency head Arie Budhiman said the city administration would only allow the Stadium’s management to obtain permits for other kinds of businesses, such as restaurants. “They will never get a permit again for a nightclub,” he said.
The incident involving the police officer is not the first drug-related fatality linked to the Stadium.
In January 2012, for example, Afriyani Susanti hit 13 pedestrians, killing nine, while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The drugs that Afriyani had taken were allegedly bought from someone inside the nightclub.
The Stadium’s management has refused to issue any official statement regarding the closure. However, through its Twitter account, @stadiumjakarta, it said on Monday that the club was officially closed, and it would comply with the existing laws. It also thanked its clientele for all their support over the years. (idb)


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