Bali is a magnet for the flotsam and jetsam of Western society. The perception (often accurate) that white people can get away with almost anything is immensely attractive to an array of substance abusers, shysters and assorted emotionally, morally and psychologically-challenged weirdos. (There are some nice, normal Westerners in Bali as well.)

The Jazz Cafe, in Ubud, is a microcosm of Bali “characters”, both long-term and just-visiting. We recently visited it on two consecutive nights, to enjoy the excellent music that the venue offers. The food is great too, but it has plenty of competition in that respect.

The first evening was fairly tame, with the usual Japanese and Javanese tourists, as well as an assortment of Australian, American and European expatriates and tourists. The “funk” band was great, although the requests from the audience had them eventually sounding like an Indonesian country and western band.

The audience mix on the second evening was verging on unbelievable. One couple, in particular, seemed to be the hands-down winners for the “most extreme” award. He had very long, white hair and a white moustache, with a white shirt, silver lycra trousers and white gym boots. She had orange hair, white blouse, and what looked like a black netball skirt over black bike pants. They were both well into their 40’s, if not older. She was very animated, he was almost comatose.

However, as the evening progressed, a small, middle-aged woman in black, with a long scarf, crept through the doorway. She looked like she had escaped from day release. Suddenly, as she became aware of the music, she began to gyrate on the dance floor. Following her, a woman, possibly her daughter, in a black singlet and denim skirt, entered, followed by the boyfriend, in black singlet and shorts. He was the sort of person who, in any western society, would be regularly beaten simply for who he was trying to be. In the safety of expatriate Ubud, his (their?) arrogance was spell binding.

They immediately ensconced themselves in the pathway of the waiting staff, and seemed oblivious to the fact, as they began to chain smoke. “Mum”, clearly on something, ashed her cigarette on another patron, and the boyfriend had to mediate. Luckily, a table became vacant, which resulted in them moving to a less obstructionist position.

In the meantime, an obese tourist after looking at Helen, moved seats so that she was exactly blocking Helen’s view. One of her two companions, realising that she was never going to see anyone in the restaurant again, ever, got up and began to “groove” on the dance floor. This encouraged an elderly Japanese couple to rock and roll, and a few others to join in. Her obese friend joined in, which wasn’t a pretty sight.

Eventually, tiredness overcame us, and, even though the blues music was excellent, and the “floor show” was entertaining, we headed back to our hotel.


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