Above: the dining room at Ku De Ta.
A decade on, Ku De Ta remains Bali’s ultimate beachside haunt.
By Natasha Dragun
Ten years ago, Bali’s beachside village of Seminyak—today a fashionable hub of shops, eateries, and nightclubs—was little more than rice paddies and sleepy streets. “It was a bit on the coconut-palm side,” recalls Arthur “Arch” Chondros. Few people know the area better than Arch, the brains behind the now-legendary restaurant and lounge-bar Ku De Ta (9 Jl. Laksmana; 62-361/736-969; kudeta.net). An Australian restaurateur, Arch purchased a plot of seaside land next to the Oberoi hotel back in the late 1990s, intending to use the space to build holiday villas. The development fell through. “I realized that what Bali really needed was a place for holidaymakers to show off their freshly minted suntans, designer thongs, and fashions,” says Arch, who then began planning a coup of a different sort.
Ku De Ta opened above the sand of Seminyak Beach in 2000. The concept was remarkably simple: a few sun loungers overlooking the Indian Ocean, well-mixed cocktails, international cuisine, and chill-out music. Yet many will attest that Arch’s vision changed the face of nightlife not just for Seminyak, but for Bali as a whole. Tourists and locals alike now flock to Jalan Laksmana (a.k.a. “Eat Street”) to while away an evening in the restaurants and bars that line the pavement. And hundreds of beautiful people regularly descend on the island for a night of revelry at Ku De Ta’s famous house-music parties, in full swing throughout August as the establishment celebrates 10 years of sunsets and soirees. The anniversary event on August 14 will see British funk group The Brand New Heavies perform live under the stars, while London-based DJ Dave Seaman will take to the decks on August 21 for an installment of the bar’s hugely popular White Party series. If you can’t make it to Bali for the bash but happen to be sitting on a deserted beach instead, keep your eyes peeled for Arch; rumor has it that the Ku De Ta brand might soon be coming to a coconut grove near you.
Originally appeared in the August/September 2010 print issue of DestinAsian magazine