The Many Faces of KRAPELA

by Indira Ichsan
18th April 2024
Expanding what a night out looks like in the city, bar and open-modular space KRAPELA at the penthouse of ROW 9 fluidly transitions between creative functions, from movie screenings, music gigs to theatrical performances.

KRAPELA, perched on the penthouse of ROW 9, is a peculiar place for people-watching. One would witness youths dressed to make a statement to fun-seeking locals pouring in waves come Friday night. Are they here for their favourite techno DJ? Or perhaps a screening of the latest Indonesian indie film? At KRAPELA, an abbreviation of ROW 9’s neighbourhood Kramat Pela, there’s always something to expect.

“We wanted to create a space where people can express themselves however they want,” shared co-founder Albie Trisura. In light of this freedom-loving, artistic spirit, KRAPELA has grown to host a melting pot of subcultures and identities strung together by an underlying thread: a desire to celebrate all art forms. 

“We understand Blok M has a deep history tied to music and the youth, and try to channel it however we can,” explained co-founder Bianda Nevansky, which is not only reflected in their commitment to platforming local, upcoming artists but in opening their arms to different communities—an inspiration that Albie drew from the fabled discotheque Tanamur that was wildly popular in the ‘70s.

Though their core lies in music, KRAPELA extends an invitation to artists across disciplines. The venue’s modular design, courtesy of twin designers Rama and Romy Dwiwahyu, ensures that each performance receives its rightful spotlight; where the pieces can be joined or taken apart to suit live gigs, theatrical productions, movie screenings, talk shows, talent showcases, performance art, and even yoga sessions.  

In this way, “Artists can approach KRAPELA as a blank canvas, where we supply the tools but it’s at the liberty of the artists to fill in with colour in however way they see fit,” explains co-founder Teguh Wicaksono. Since its opening last year, artists have responded to the space in their distinct ways; pop-punk darlings Pee Wee Gaskins held an electrifying gig reflecting the energy of the underground music scene, folk singer-songwriter Sal Priadi invited the crowd to an intimate poetry reading, while theatre company Teater Pandora’s interactive show paid homage to classic Hong Kong action flicks.

On nights that call for some liquid courage, aside from the usual bottles and beer, a range of tongue-in-cheek cocktails are on offer. The Poor Decisions, for instance, is a potent blend of absinthe, espolòn blanco tequila, malt whiskey, vodka, and spiced rum, all masked with tropical flavouring—resulting in a concoction whose name perhaps hints at the consequences that might follow. For a funkier flavour, try the Cornstar, wherein the popcorn-infused whiskey yields what is essentially buttered popcorn in cocktail form. 

“At KRAPELA, we hope to see all kinds of art forms take off and thrive, as well as for people to discover new things while they’re here,” said co-founder Januar Kristianto on the place’s future. As harbingers of a new era of art-centric nightlife, KRAPELA is built upon a community banded together through a shared appreciation for self-expression; in so that amongst the creative youth, the question “Where do you wanna go tonight?” could be easily answered with “Let’s just go to KRAPELA.”