Top Nightspots Face Closure over Noise

Bali Night club noiseBy William J. Furney
Managing Editor
The Bali Times
With Bali Editor Rian Dewanto

SEMINYAK ~ Some of Bali’s most well-known nightspots face closure for noise violations that are disturbing local residents and tourists, officials said this week.

The authorities have asked the entertainment venues to not only turn down the volume but also obtain necessary music permits that they currently do not possess.

Hu’u bar and the adjacent Living Room and Day Dream nighclub on Jl. Petitenget in chic Seminyak are pumping out nighttime sounds that are almost 100 percent above the permitted level, Badung Civil Police chief I Wayan Adi Arnawa told The Bali Times this week.

Entertainment establishments are not allowed to produce noise over 40 decibels, yet the trio of nightspots regularly emitted up to 70 decibels, he said. (Bali Police put the maximum noise level at between 40 and 60 decibels, a spokesman told The Times.)

“First they have to turn down the noise; they are too loud,” said Arnawa, “And second, they have to have permits to provide music, which they don’t have, even though two of them have been in business for a number of y ears,” he said.

He said, however, that the establishments supported tourism in Bali and were necessary; therefore, the authorities hoped the businesses could soon get the necessary permits, and decrease their level of noise.

Management of the three nightspots had met with officials from the civil police, and had given assurances that they would apply for entertainment permits and turn down the noise level, said Arnawa, adding that the premises would be continually monitored by staff from his office.

Day Dream is the newest on the block and opened last month with a string of glitzy parties. Since then The Bali Times has received letters from readers in the area – tourists and long-term expatriates – complaining about disturbingly high noise level. One, from a young Australian staying at a hotel in Petitenget, said he was glad when his holiday ended because he was “able to get some sleep” back home.

Arnawa said the government had given three chances to the establishments to get a required “closed-stage permit” so that, apart from their restaurant and bar business, they could legally play music.

“They’ve been given their first chance to get the license. They said they didn’t know about such a permit, but now they do. They have to immediately get the license, or they will not be allowed to play any more music because we will prevent it,” he said.

Made Swastika, head of Tourist Attraction Division of the Badung Tourism Office told The Times that none of the venues had registered for a closed-stage permit.

“Hu’u Bar got the registration form, but have not submitted it to us. The Living Room called us to ask about the license, but that’s been all and there’s been no follow-up from them. We’ve heard nothing from Day Dream,” he said.

“We don’t charge anything for the closed-stage permit,” he said.

Local resident Ulrike Keller told The Times that Day Dream continued to be “as loud as usual,” saying she met with local officials to voice her concern and intended to start a petition against the club but was told by community leaders to postpone the plan as they themselves would deal with the establishment.

“The Balinese should pay more attention to problems like this because in this case the nightclub is beside a temple and it’s not appropriate,” she said.

Keller said she had tried to meet with the management of Day Dream, who are from Jakarta, but failed and spoke to security guards instead.

“They told me that if I didn’t feel comfortable with the noise, I could move.”

The authorities have been clamping down on noise pollution in recent months, most notably on the blaring Jl. Legian strip in Kuta, where a number of clubs and bars have been targeted over high noise levels.

Nyoman Sumardika, head of Kerobokan Kelod Village in which the three nightspots are located, told The Times that complaints had arisen because in one small area there was a growth of tourism alongside homes and a temple.

“The complaints about these clubs in Petitenget are typical of areas in which there are residents, clubs and temples. Initially, investors built the restaurants and bars. As business grew, they started to add music to accompany the dining. We realize, however, that there’s a difference between dining music and disco music.

“It’s true, though, that the clubs don’t put on loud disco music every night of the week, only on certain nights, particularly weekends.”

Sumardika said local residents initially did not object but as time wore on it became harder to live with the noise level.

“At first, most residents were tolerant of the music, but gradually some of them became annoyed and protested. There are some residents who haven’t protested, but they’re still annoyed,” he said, adding that some people were wary of criticizing the nightspots because their families or relatives earned a living from working in them.

“I’m aware that basically the government doesn’t allow loud disco music in this area. Therefore, I would like to make a suggestion to them to be clearer about the rules, so that both the clubs and residents don’t interfere with each other,” Sumardika said.

Living Room spokeswoman Bulan Purnama told The Times at the upscale restaurant that she was unaware of any requirement to have a closed-stage permit.

“We’ve been open for two years, with music, and have never been required to get such a permit,” she said, adding that management had not received any complaints about noise from people living in the area.

“It was only after Day Dream opened that people started to complain about the loud noise, and blaming it on us. We don’t understand how the inspection team came up with a 70-decibel level. We’ve had the police test the noise level here before, for licensing purposes, and we were rated at 50 decibels. We never had loud disco music here, and I think the government can’t differentiate between club music and lounge music. We demand that the government make a clear definition about the close-stage permit, because we have never been asked for one.”

A representative of fashionable Hu’u bar, speaking to The Times on condition of anonymity, also said there were no difficulties with their noise level and people in the area.

“The residents don’t have a problem with the noise from Hu’u bar. We know because we’ve met them and they told us. We had complaints back in 2002 about the noise we were making and since then we’ve invested in measures to reduce and dampen the sound, like thicker windows and noise suppressors on the ceiling,” said the spokesperson.

“In fact, we asked the (government inspection) team whether we could buy our own noise detector, because we want to cooperate in dealing with this problem, but they didn’t give us an answer.”

Joe Matulandi, bar manager at Day Dream – an ultra-modern club located beside Hu’u bar and painted in white and with silver finishings and a swimming pool guests can lounge by – said when the nightspot was launched, the music was loud but has been reduced.

“We haven’t received any complaints from the banjar (community), because before we even put on our music, we sent a written request (to the village leaders) asking for permission. But even that was only for our opening nights. After that, we reduced the noise to a normal level,” he said.

“I’ve asked our DJs to control the noise, and I do manual checks from every corner of the club to make sure the noise is not too loud. If there’s noise in the area, it’s not coming from us,” he told The Times.


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