Bandwagon Places: Arab Street

Bandwagon Places is where we take you out to spots around town (and outside) with live music, because that's what we're all about. Armed with (adequate) wit, photo-taking equipment, questionable sartorial choices and all right walking skills, we take on the Arab Quarters for our first instalment. Besides discovering dodgy karaoke lounges on a Friday night, we found some good ones too. Keep up! 

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101 Jalan Sultan, The Sultan Hotel

Situated in the very atas and quaint Sultan Hotel along Jalan Sultan, this very swanky club offers exactly what its name denotes: pure unadulterated jazz music. When we stopped by the Club last week, Greg Lyons and Gabe Evens was playing, with a new piano and all. The air was unmistakably heavy with sophistication and extravagance, and we felt kind of awkward with Delfina’s pyjama shirt and my hoody. But the staff were amicable enough and treated us no differently (big up).

Higher live music culture increased by: +10

Drink of choice: Cocktails, wine

Beer bottle swilling patron in sight: 0 (Beer is too cheap)

Chandelier: Gold in color, size of a small car

Walls: Made of velvet

Ornaments: Ornate

Music vibes: Definitely not Pitchfork-y

Median age of patrons: 35

Apropos adjective: Super Classy


56 Kandahar Street, Kampong Glam

Viking Cafe was a total contrast from the total swankiness of Sultan Jazz Club, and we had to remove our monocles and top hats to re-adjust to the very relaxed, chill-out ambience of the cafe, located at 56 Kandahar Street. When we entered the cafe, we were greeted by the very chirpy and welcoming staff. We just missed a live set, they said. Other than us, there were only a handful of other people in joint, happy to be peacefully preoccupied in their own company. The whole place generally felt very earthy, with hand-painted murals, paintings and handicrafts adorning the place, along with the warm tone of the decor. We really liked the place!

You will ask: Are we still in Arab Street?

Presence of ancient nordic warriors: None, unfortunately

Staff: Extremely affable

Comfort level: Extreme

Ratio of sleazy persons to books, art on walls, and organic t-shirts: 0: 100

Where you can get a proper sandwich in the Arab quarters: This place

Where you can get a refreshing drink on a balmy night: This place – try the Jamaican Punch, definitely fresh.

Feeling you get when you leave and turn into the Arab Street Friday Night crowd: Definitely a little sad with a tinge of social anxiety. 


63 Haji Lane

One would think a place called Going OM would be a yoga studio or something (only in the day) but the cafe turned out to be quite a lively, rambunctious place. It’s a place where people come to lounge and hang out with a few friends while enjoying beers and sheesha. If you’re inebriated enough you can even grab a tabla and plug in your instruments into the available amplifiers and perform an impromptu set. It’s a very free-spirited place, like the decor imply.

Vibes: New Age Zen with cigarette smoking

Crowd vibes: Having beer in a sophisticated manner with friends from uni with some sophisticated discussion in casual wear

Who would perform here: An Asiatic Jason Mraz type

Beer bottles: No one was not drinking beer

Where one would have a Foucauldian discussion with Bruno Mars playing in the background: This place

Where one would banter about superhero movies and their OSTs with Bruno Mars playing in the background: This place

What I would like to steal from here: The hanging lanterns and some beers to go


12 Bali Lane

Everyone knows where Blu Jaz is, it’s been there for years as a popular hang out to get your live music, beer and sheesha fix. With a crowd like that, the people at Blu Jaz need not worry about underutilising the abundant space (it's a three storey joint). The outdoor area was well occupied, some dancing was going on upstairs and the third floor though the quietest, was still vibrant. The finger food is a definite must have, for they are all consistently delectable. Mandatory quick tour of place: The first floor is where you have your sheesha and maybe watch some jazz musicians playing (if they are), the second floor is the bar/club area, a smallish area but perfectly adequate to dance to good electronic music and the third floor is another lounging area with a bar, a more quieter place to hang out (and it’s air-conditioned).

Crowd vibes: After work x Ladies Night x Picking up ladies Night x Regulars x Here to catch some Jazz for real

Decor: Purposefully organised clutter of mismatched furniture that overall is very pleasant

Floors where people are doing things: 3

Floors where people are dancing: 1

Number of people dancing: Maybe 2 or 3

Vibes: Like a nice big kitchen where people walk in and out all the time

Value for money: Decently priced grub, 3 levels + alfresco area to choose seating arrangements from, quality music while you chew 

Text & Photo | Delfina Utomo, Ilyas Sholihyn