House of Ink Bali
Bali has a reputation as an tropical island that offers something for everyone, from the all-night raves of the legendary Ku De Ta nightclub, to traditional dance performances in ancient temples, from simple family homestays to luxury villas. But nothing quite prepared me for the full-on assault on the senses at Pretty Poison, which opened last summer and is the hottest underground address on the island for tattoos – and a lot more. I arrive just before midnight on a steamy Thursday night and follow a narrow lane named Jalan Short Cut that zigzags precariously through the paddy fields surrounding the bohemian beach resort of Canggu.
Pretty Poison is easy to find, with hundreds of buzzing scooters, clubbers, skateboarders, performance and visual artists swarming around the place each night. There are show-off barmen, resident DJs and a packed dancefloor, live bands, indie movie screenings, regular exhibitions by young local artists and a salon staffed by four fearsome-looking tattoo artists who will create a permanent souvenir for £15.
But what marks out Pretty Poison is what looks at first like an old, empty swimming pool. It is actually a skateboard bowl, built like the rest of club from scratch last year by owner Maree Sutejaa, a longtime Bali resident from Bondi Beach, who has tapped into a vibrant underground skateboard culture where locals mix with expat kids and curious tourists. Although the average age seems to be around 18, Maree assures me that the secret of the club’s success is that respect for the culture of skateboarding means it attracts all ages, Balinese and foreigners.