IMG_0361End-of-school parties are ubiquitous for this generation of junior high and senior high students. And malls are very much in the black during the scorching months of May and June when boutiques have hordes of teenaged girls going through their racks of RTW dresses and trying on endless strappy stilettos to see which pair would go with the chosen attire for the farewell party. Let us not forget the hair salons that are booked solid for hair and make-up sessions. Rayon from Hair Code at Grand Metropolitan Mall had back-to-back sessions during the last week in May.

Farewell party is what the end-of-school parties are commonly referred to in Indonesia. It also doubles up as a prom which you only get to know about when the Prom King and Queen are announced. Unlike two decades ago, there is no David Pomeranz’s “King and Queen of Hearts”, the unofficial anthem of proms in the Philippines, playing in the background when the announcement is made.

The junior high unit of Global Prestasi School (GPS) kicked off June with fun and entertainment. The outgoing grade 9 students decided on holding their farewell party titled Verenigen Hastha, or the eighth batch, on the first day of June at the Cinema XXI Lounge. My apprehension was all for naught, as the venue proved to be more than fitting. It was, in fact, perfect. Traditionally, hotels in Jakarta are the preferred venues for reasons that are associated with the words grand, classy, and formal. Given the exorbitant price tag that is attached to renting a ballroom or a room smaller than a ballroom, the principal, Yulie Tan, broke away from tradition and challenged the committee members of the farewell party to scour every nook and cranny of Bekasi for a suitable and reasonably priced venue. Who said GPS students are ones to walk away from a challenge? They meet them head on and with panache.

Verenigan Hastha in full swing

Verenigen Hastha in full swing

Getting the par-tay started

Getting the par-tay started

Cinema XXI Lounge is inside Mega Bekasi Mall, one of the malls within close proximity to GPS. On a good day (read: no traffic), a taxi ride is a breezy 20-25- minute ride. It’s even breezier if you take the local transport angkot and cheaper. At Rp3, 500 – 4,000, you’re at Mega Bekasi in 15 minutes. For parents picking up their children after the party in the evening, it’s not a taxing drive from home to Mega Bekasi unlike when the pickup point is in Jakarta which usually spells a two or three hour plus ride back and forth depending on the traffic.

The lounge is spacious – one doesn’t feel hemmed in – that a fun photo booth fits in perfectly within the floor area of the lounge and which was buzzing with adults and students hamming it up for their keepsakes. The stage at the centre has a huge screen that was clear and the sound system was in tip-top shape. None of the musicians had to spend minutes tuning their instruments; there were no embarrassing microphone problems; and the videos screened brilliantly.

Proud teacher - my students taking to the stage

Proud teacher – my students taking to the stage

A common bugbear for people who are organising parties is the service crew. They can be blatantly incompetent and indifferent at times. But, much to my surprise, the Cinema XXI Lounge service crew was in fighting form. No glass was left half filled; the chafing dishes were never empty and cutlery were not lacking; chairs were cleared for students when needed; and courtesy was the order of the night.

Food can make or break a party and, fortunately, the buffet table at Verenigan Hastha was a cornucopia of culinary delights fit for gourmands. Indonesian cuisine is always something to feast on but when you see them in the cafeteria every day, it becomes commonplace. Not this particular buffet table – it was a fusion of European, Western, and far-from-ordinary Indonesian dishes from appetiser, main course to dessert.

And they danced through the night

And they danced through the night

As a guest, the transformation from roguish to respectable impressed me. Unabashedly biased, I was bursting with pride at seeing my students at the forefront of the affair as committee members, emcees, party hosts, and performers, who brimmed with glittery aplomb all night. They also cleaned up, I noted.


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