Simon Stanley drops into the dynamic new social hangout that everyone’s talking about. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Indika’s arrival was something of a happy coincidence. With the recent closures of Cargo and Decibel, the stage was set for a new venue and a new social hangout, somewhere centred around music, performance arts and creativity.
Co-founded by the folks over at Saigon Dub Station, music is in Indika’s blood. With a dynamic lineup of parties, live events and more socially-oriented get-togethers, from live acoustic sessions on Wednesday evenings, to book swap nights, gipsy jazz, and the LGBT party that happened last month, it’s obvious why the place has been packed to its high colonial rafters since opening in July.
But Indika is not all about partying and boozing. Afternoons are a chilled affair, and plans are afoot to begin opening from 9am onwards, possibly by the time these words reach you. Established inside an old French-built house, at the end of a winding alleyway beyond the B.O.C. barbecue joint and several funky boutique shops, in daytime cafe mode it’s a nice spot to retreat from the bedlam of the city and enjoy a pot of tea. In its evening attire, Indika’s secluded location and private courtyard make it feel more like a private party with like-minded friends than a bar.
If you’re going to stay all day, it’s good to know that drinks are cheap, with a pint of Fuzzy Logic sitting at VND60,000, and cocktails at around VND100,000. A short but sweet food menu consists of barbecued Jamaican jerk chicken from their partners over at Shanty (VND120,000), plus a variety of pizzas (VND70,000), bar snacks and desserts.
Inside, colourful artworks and sprawling murals sit alongside antique furniture and century-old design features. “We call it ‘the house of curiosity’,” says Morgan Mugnier, co-founder and events organiser. “The place is… kind of strange, but that’s what we like.”
It’s then that I realise that the table sitting between us is actually an old wooden-box television set. Behind us is an vintage sewing machine table with various randomly shaped, randomly aged chairs arranged around it. The bar looks to be an antique display cabinet, filled with mis-matched cups and saucers.
“We hope that it will capture people’s attention,” adds Mugnier, “and maybe help their creativity if they come to work here during the day, or if they come to play music in the evening. We just wanted a vibe that will help people’s artistic direction. It’s chilled, open-minded. We’re not pretentious in any way.”