View Full Version : Pool halls now popular with Muslim women

06-26-2004, 03:38 AM
Pool halls now popular with women

Slamet Susanto, Yogyakarta

Wearing a cream head scarf, or jilbab, Paramitha, 22, stares intently at the balls racked in front of her. After a few seconds of concentration, a loud crack is heard and the spheres roll to the corners of the billiard table.

"What a pity, none have gone in!" Paramitha, a student of a private university, exclaims.

Her friend, Palupi, 23, approaches the table, picks up a cue, and rubs it with chalk. After Palupi plays her turn, Paramitha plays hers and the two friends continue until all the balls are sunk.

Such scenes of young Muslim women playing billiards in parlors are now commonplace in the traditional city of Yogyakarta.

The fact that this no longer raises eyebrows is indicative of how successfully the game has managed to throw off its negative image. Up until not long ago, billiards was connected with the dark and seedy world of prostitution, premanisme (thuggery), and gambling. Not a place for a student or a professional woman to let off steam.

"Billiards is now perceived as a recreational sport, good for relaxation," Palupi told The Jakarta Post one evening.

According to Welli Chandra, Sport Manager of Q Club billiard center here, negative perceptions of billiards originated from where the game came from. In America, billiards was often associated with fighting, gambling, and commercial sex operations.

Before its recent renaissance, billiards was generally played in smoky pool halls and bars and the 15-ball version of the game used to require the presence of scorers, usually women.

"To attract the players' attention, score girls often wore sexy dresses and behaved provocatively as well. The more sexy a score girl was, the more she was wanted by players and thus the more tips she received," Welli said. Many score girls were also commercial sex workers, which explained why the game had been connected with prostitution.

Many players used to bet on the result of matches -- a reason for another of billiards' names, "pool", which refers to the pool of bets made on the game. Fights often occurred because of bet-related quarrels, Welli said, which did not enhance the game's or the players' reputation.

"However since that time, perceptions have turned 180 degrees. People now see billiards as a clean, recreational sport and more and more young women are beginning to join the mushrooming billiard clubs in the city," Welli said.

The negative perception of the game, according to Welli, began to change in early 2000, when entrepreneurs worldwide began to establish classier billiard clubs.

In Indonesia, the nine-ball or eight-ball version of the game has became more popular -- which means the presence of a "score girl" is completely unnecessary.

"As a result, billiard courses are also mushrooming in the city," said Welli, adding that televised billiard games had also changed people's attitudes toward the game.

This change of perception has been followed by an increase in the number of female billiard players in the city. The Q Club, quick to eye a business opportunity, encouraged this trend by offering special training for women players -- the Female Fun Course -- which began a year ago.

"We are offering free instruction. And the response has been incredible. We now have some 250 female members in the club," Satni 'Negro' Satu, Q Club's Marketing Manager, said.

The club, Negro says, has also opened special hours for women players every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon, complete with chilled-out pop music.

"Of the 20 tables we are offering, almost all are always occupied during these special hours for women," Negro said.

During the last six months, five new billiard clubs have begun to offer a similar service for women.

And it seems that as more women join the game, the tidier the clubs get. Older billiard clubs -- Galeria Billiard and Perdana Billiardare -- are now renovating to accommodate the increasing number of female players.


06-26-2004, 07:18 AM
"What a pity, none have gone in!" Love it, Nick!


06-28-2004, 03:27 AM
as far as attire is concerned, I think pool is a sport that is perfectly acceptable to conservative/religious muslim women.

Chris Cass
06-28-2004, 08:21 AM
Hi Nick,

I think this is great. I hope every woman in the entire world needs to feel free to do anything they wish. I can't see them held to a standard that some countries set for their role in society. These heavenly creatures are our gift to all men and sometimes women too but for the most part should be treated equal. I'm not trying to put down their customs but I believe that they should be afforded the chance to make up their own mind to do so.