Violence is never the answer, though how we react to it can sometimes be of benefit. Djakarta Warehouse Party is one of those good things that emerged out of a positive reaction to a violent situation.
In 2008 a huge fight broke out in Jakarta’s Blowfish Bar, resulting in the venue being declared unfit to stage a huge party that was scheduled to take place there two weeks later. The organizers, Ismaya Group, were faced with a stark decision; cancel, and incur all the associated costs with acts booked, tickets sold and sponsors onboard, or find a new venue and give the event a new name. Thankfully, they did the latter and Djakarta Warehouse Project was born.
Eight years later, what started out as a 2,000 capacity boutique warehouse rave has now expanded to a 90,000 strong, two-day dance festival monolith at the JiExpo convention centre. Per day it pulls in the biggest amount of attendees of any Asian festival, all of them attracted by the stellar lineups and luminous good times that prevail across its three stages.
All the Big Hitters
Djakarta’s USP – disregarding the rather unique manner of its inception – is the breadth of its lineups. Curation is king here. Typical years will see 33 international acts, with 24 Indonesian DJs also on the wheels of steel, as they drop everything from trance to techno, to house, electro and trap.
You’d be hard pressed to find weightier names than the fest’s headliners which have included Hardwell, Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, Major Lazer and Tiesto sitting pretty at the top of the bill. But scan down and names like Snakehips, Lost Frequencies and Trillions all smack of a lineup curated by discerning organizers that know a monumental rave needs serious artistry behind the decks.
The acts play across three vast stages, including main arena Garudha Land, which takes its moniker from the mythical bird emblazoned in the Indonesian coat of arms. The shenanigans last for 11 hours, from 5 pm to 4 am, and for those with superhuman stamina and a disdain for dawn, there’s also an afterparty at the Colosseum nightclub.
What’s the Vibe?
Festivals are about engaging in a kind of friendly anarchy; you behave in ways you wouldn’t at home or at work and that is precisely why we love them. For many festival-goers this means getting inebriated somehow, in order to loosen up and lubricate their ability to express themselves.
Indonesia is a conservative, religious country and, though the crowds these days have an international contingent of 20,000 revelers from as far afield as South Korea, Norway and Nepal, the vibe is a little more sober than you might find in Australia, America or Europe. The percentage of folk there to simply expand their minds is far less than say Tomorrowland or Burning Man, and you’ll find few people spacewalking around with eyeballs the size of meteorites.
However, don’t take sober as a pejorative term; the Djarkata crowd is there to party hard, and what they lack in units downed they make up for in their energy on the dancefloor. Electronic dance music is (relatively) new in this part of the world – at least in comparison to elsewhere – and there’s an innocence and lack of cynicism in Djakarta’s crowd that makes it one of the most exuberant and unhinged out there. Flags, that old festival staple, are very popular at every stage and with 1,600 LED panels installed for the main stage and enough pyrotechnics to start a war, it’s full-on sensory immersion throughout.