Brazilian diva Bebel Gilberto gave a surprise concert last Friday at Hotel Tugu Bali. The lovely Lucienne Anhar, la princesa de Tugu is always full of surprises. She and her mischievous friends Valentina Audrito and Abhishake Kumbhat cooked up the idea of the concert just three days in advance. Bebel was in Bali, taking a break from her Asian tour, when Lucienne, Valentina and Abhi proposed the idea, and of course, she said, “Why not?” Spontaneity is magic. Three cheers for spontaneity.
Tugu as a venue is magic, too. This time it was spiced up with the wild and whimsical furniture creations of Word of Mouth (Valentina and Abhi’s daring design nexus here in Bali). On the night, Bebel herself was decked out in Word of Mouth designs (Val and Abhi do innovative, wearable fashion as well as furniture, architecture, lighting and accessories). Bebel was so taken by her strappy slinky WoM outfit (above), she wore it again for a concert in Singapore, her next stop after Bali.
Spontaneity is very Bali. It’s how we live. So it was no surprise that despite the moment’s-notice nature of the event, over 300 Bebel fans turned up, buzzing with anticipation. Invitation was almost exclusively by word of mouth (pun intended). Valentina and Abhi tell us that this kind of synaptic networking is part of the Word of Mouth mission statement. Hence, the name. It expresses an unwavering faith in the interconnectedness of like minded people the world over, and in the ways that webs of inspiration work . . . without planning, without paperwork, like an ecosystem.
Enough backstory. What an evening it was. Cocktail hour on the Tugu beach became a grand reunion of old friends and co-conspirators from Bali and beyond. It’s always an enchanting spot, enhanced on this occasion by cutting-edge comfy wedge-shaped loungers by WoM (above), masses of lanterns, and Valentina’s new notion of a sofa in the form of a giant basket of cushy eggs. WoM’s star-shaped lucite seats twinkled in the sunset (below), so stars could sit on stars and wish on a star as the sky faded to dark.
Bebel’s sexy set in Tugu’s grand hall was received with orgiastic enthusiasm, matching the singer’s own martini-fueled enthusiasm, with people dancing in the foyer and mashing merrily into a grinning sweaty mass around the stage. We longed however, for masses of cushions (or cushy eggs) strewn on the floor, so short people like me didn’t have to sharpen their elbows and prod so many ribs just to get a good look. Also, acoustics are tricky in this space. The high alang-alang roof hinders harmonics, and so do throngs of bodies. A portable band shell behind the performers could have done the trick, though.
The party migrated en masse back to the beach after Bebel’s last number, and many remained reclined in conversation on the WoM wedges until well after midnight. We bumped into scores of old friends, many from Ubud and beyond. Among them were furniture designer extraordinaire Etienne de Souza, bijoux wizard Frederic Bonnet, Cyril Battini, Tricia Kim of Nagicia, Tina Ardie the PhD Professor of P.A.R.T.Y., Mathias and Gaelle Echene of Pantai Lima, seminal tropical architect Cheong Yew Kwan, Pascal and Marie-Eve Morabito of Morabito Art Villa, artist Sebastian Mesdag who is about to open a unique bijouterie in Ubud, ever-affectionate gadabout Fabrice de Barsy, Gaby Wehn of LVDK Productions with our new BGF Monica Benet, British textile artist and impresario Simon Marks who has recently relocated to Ubud from India, musician-entrepreneur John Marciano of Republic of Soap, Paola Zancanaro who has just opened an utterly charming design boutique called Namu on Jalan Petitenget in front of Biku, and painter-designer Kirsty Ludbrook who has just opened a design studio next to Cafe Moka in Banjar Anyar Kerobokan. Met a brand new friend, who we hope will spend a lot more time in Bali, Kiwi film director/producer Jason Moon.
Images courtesy of Word of Mouth, and of Hotel Tugu Bali (by Denny Febianto).