Jakarta 24/7 — What’s up with the 7-11 Jakarta thing?

The secret’s out of the bag — Jakarta’s lovely at night. If you can find a way to sleep days, do it. For obvious reasons working, shopping, and strolling about — just about everything — is so much nicer vampire-style. So definitely check out former Sharehouse guest Prodita Sabarini’s take on the 7-11 Jakarta thing.  The world has waited much too long for this article.

Of course, I’m sure it took a bit of ethnographic discipline, as there’s more to this 7-11 thing than meets the eye. And how would you feel walking up to dozens of people at 7-11 and asking, “Friend, in your opinion just what is it that makes 7-11 such a great place to hang out ?

I couldn’t have done it myself. I was just coming up to speed on the Alfa Mart and Circle K. I could compare each location to the shopping alternatives that preceded and succumbed to them   — the warung, the traditional market, etc. I could compare individual locations in terms of hours, prices, and distance from the Sharehouse. Or compare the Jakarta v. Bali Circle K experience.

And then 7-Eleven showed up in Jakarta with this ridiculous round-the-clock crowd scene.  It’s visible inside and spilling outside into the cafe/parking lot areas outside. Even if you don’t have a whole lot of time to get involved (or lack the connections), you can deduce that it’s pretty damn fulfilling chilling like a villain at the local 7th haven. And this, despite the bad prices, worse food, nasty decor and the lines . You’ll be pleased to turn a blind eye to all the above and count yourself lucky to be a part of the scene.

Says one of Odit’s informants:

The atmosphere is different. The concept is similar to Circle K’s, but the products sold are different. There is a self-service snacks counter… They sell slurpees, Coca Cola — they also offer a variety of coffee and hot chocolate. I enjoy that.

The same dude, who admits he used to chill in [beautiful historic parks], like Menteng or Suropati further spills the beans:

We never plan our get-togethers. We usually arrange them at the last minute, by SMS, or on Twitter, Facebook or BBM [BlackBerry messenger] . . . Once 20 of us met at 7-Eleven.

Another insider observed:

The convenience store has grasped city dwellers’ need to create an image and socialize. “There’s a shift from [selling] utility to selling pride. People go there to socialize but also to see and be seen.

So there it is, Instant Expat — live culture, bubbling up all around us like exotic pro-biotic yogurt imported from Japan. This is a new Jakarta 24/7  phenomenon not to miss.



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