Putting Up A Show
Putting Up A Show
PHOTOS BY: Alvin Toh
Putting Up A Show 25. August 2017, Photos by Alvin Toh
When the sun has set, what does it take to keep the fun going all night?

This bartop’s meant for dancing. This could be a scene right out from the film Coyote Ugly, with flame-breathing and juggling acts and a jolly crowd of bartenders and patrons dancing on the bartop to the tunes of Gangnam Style and YMCA. But for first-timers, it is hard to believe that this is a typical Monday night at Centerstage of Hard Rock Hotel Bali, where one need not an occasion to party this crazy.

The Kuta area in Bali, where the Hard Rock Hotel is located, is nightlife central, with clubs ratcheting things up to add that extra dazzle to a patron’s experience. The Centerstage bar in the hotel, adorned with museum-like displays of rock memorabilia, is rigged with concert lighting, video projection screens and an elevated stage where live bands perform nightly.

Hard Rock Hotel Bali’s Centerstage bartender Komang Subagus Abibi entertains the crowd with his flairtending techniques.
A model awaits her turn to take to the catwalk at the Centerstage.
The bar table at Centerstage becomes an improvised catwalk for models to strut their stuff.
Guests join in the fun on the bartop, doing the ‘Gangnam Style’ dance.
Dine in comfort at Hard Rock Cafe, a long-standing Bali nightlife institution.

Like a dragon, bartender Komang Subagus Abibi, 22, blows a large fireball from his mouth to rapturous applause from the crowd. He proceeds to light a few bottles on fire and starts juggling and flipping them like in a circus act. Abibi spent one year at a hospitality school learning the art of flair bartending or “flairtending” in short—the practice of juggling, flipping bar tools as well as manipulating flaming liquors to entertain guests before having the guts to perform in front of a live audience. Abibi makes all this seem so easy, when in fact he still gets a little nervous whenever he performs because there remains a risk of the fire traveling back to him if not controlled properly. “I was inspired by my mentor who is also my current supervisor and wanted to learn the skills,” he says. “I like working in the bar and I enjoy directly servicing and entertaining my guests. It makes me really happy when I see them happy, so it’s worth all my effort.”

Apart from the fire-blowers, there are also other bartenders who belt out melodious tunes. When Dhanny, 24, signed up with Hard Rock to be a bartender three years ago, he didn’t have a clue that his role would encompass being an ad-hoc singer and performer. “I used to just sing to myself in the shower,” he says. Now he croons hit songs like Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” to the audience who sings along with him. Their energy and attitude are contagious. “We try to get the customers involved and they always end up having a good time,” he says. “Good music and atmosphere make a night out.”