Jack Taylor talks to a Bali kid made good. Photo: Angga Pratama.
Everyone loves a party, but not everyone knows how to throw a good one. Nina Hadinata is one of the special few. She earns a living out of party making and she couldn’t stop now even if she wanted to.
“I did make a pact with myself last week, that I’d go to bed earlier and wouldn’t drink as much,” she confesses with a laugh, but the mischievous glint in her eye reveals Nina isn’t ready to hang up her dancing shoes quite yet.
“I think my crazier days are over, after 10 years of partying I’ve slowed down, but with the work I do it tends to come back.”
It all started with a job at Rumours back in 2002 when she was 18 years old. Two and half years organising events there led her to working at clubs and bars like Mbargo, Bacio and Liquid. She could see first-hand Bali was lacking a venue for alternative music acts to play.
“You have to dare to do something new, untested, and that’s what too many bar and nightclub owners aren’t prepared to do. But sure, big venues have huge overheads so they stick to more commercial stuff, the safe bets,” she says.
“I started Home Café around 2006. There was no other place like it in Bali, it was underground, people only really knew about it through word of mouth,” Nina says.
The place was a hit.
“It had a capacity for 150 people but with the crowds we were drawing the party soon spilled out into the street.”
Word was out – one night even Björk joined the fun, but it wasn’t long before things got out of hand. Some people wanted the place closed down, one even went to the trouble of Photoshopping naked people into photos taken inside the bar and showing them to the police. Then the day came when she woke up to find the tyres on her car slashed.
The bar closed its doors after a few blurry years, but Nina still lives in the same house just behind it on Jalan Oberoi.
“It was a first for me and I learnt a lot. It was a place where I could throw the types of parties I knew people wanted in Bali,” she says.
On a brief time out from her party making she decided to dabble in the fashion business with partner, Stephanie Vermass, creating the brand This Is A Love Song. Her old bar was transformed into their concept store and their clothes reflected their passion for music, festivals and fun.
Soon orders were coming in from the States, they were flying to LA, New York and Miami, and now there’s talk of opening their own store over there. At the same time Nina carried on organising music events on the Island through her Love In Tents label, and the travel really helped.
With one business on the up it was time to move onto the next project. Something that would bring all her passions together under one roof.
“The idea for Warehouse 82 has been floating around for about three years already, we just needed to find the right place. I stumbled across this old warehouse and just saw the potential instantly. It took about one month to get the coin together, then another three to renovate it,” Nina says.
Opening in May earlier this year, there has already been a film premiere, street art exhibition, pop-up food stall and a whole bunch of talented DJs and performers taking the stage after dark.
It’s a fresh idea that will surely have many eyes watching to see how it pans out, and Nina knows this.
“If business people here see Warehouse is a success and there is money to be made from it, that’s all they need. We’ll see more places like this pop up for sure,” she says. Approaching her 30th birthday Nina knows that things are on the up, and she knows that things could have been so much different.
“I owe a lot to growing up in Bali. There is so much opportunity to do things here that I know would be much harder in the West,” she says.
Her entrepreneurial skills have guided her, and so far so good, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing all the way.
“It’s not always straight forward doing business here, the lack of rules aren’t always a good thing, it actually makes it really hard to know what you can and can’t do.”
She sees potential for new business ideas and projects all the time, and believes Bali is fertile ground for entrepreneurs ready to take risks, but for her right now she’s happy with what she’s got.
“All the things I wanted are happening, right now there is nothing more I want to do, I’m satisfied. I’m blessed to be doing something I enjoy and can share, to have fun with a business and give something back.”
Throughout her journey Nina has managed to stay grounded and she knows the most important things in life haven’t changed with the times. For her it will always be about community spirit and love for her family and friends.
“I’m a Bali kid, and I just wanted to give Bali a place where we can come together and have fun.”