Its culture is one that higher-middle class Indonesians cringe about, but it is very much a quintessential element in Indonesian culture. If you were to visit Jakarta , the array of nightlife is vast – The selection of nightclubs and bars span from the swanky to the downright dodgy.
So you’ve consulted your Lonely Planet guide book, and it refers you to a ‘popular’ nightspot that offers cheap drinks and popular western music. What you find when entering the club, is a room packed with hookers and seedy looking South East Asian men, rocking out to some sort of music that sounds like Euro trash techno grilled up with hardcore amphetamines.
Dangdut (pronounced Dung-doot) is a genre of popular Indonesian music. It is enjoyed largely by lower middle class youth, and played extensively on all mediums from bars and clubs, television, radio, stadium concerts, and even at wedding parties. The fans of this genre span widely from Indonesia, Malaysia and Southern Philippines.
Comparatively, its is regarded as Pop music, and the lyrics accentuates the trivial problems found from falling in love and maintaining relationships, like Ria Amelia’s SMS, where she sings her sorrows about finding a mysterious SMS from another woman on her boyfriend’s phone.
Ria Amelia – SMS
Contemporary Dangdut originated somewhere in the 1960’s, and finds its influences from Malay, Arabic and Hindustani music. Throughout the years, Dangdut saw its sounds evolve by trend setting artists adding new styles into the composition.
With the self proclaimed ‘King of Dangdut’, Rhoma Irama blending in Western rock music, and Dangdut Diva, Ade Irama introducing Disco,modern dangdut incorporates features from the styles of House, RnB and Hip Hop music.
What makes the music popular, is the element of eroticism found in Dangdut dancing. Known Ngebor, a blend of Hip Hop and belly dancing, the girls of Dangdut can goyang-goyang their asses to an extent that would put Shakira and Beyonce to shame.
Artists such as Inul Daratista and Lina Geboy have created controversy with Islamic authorities with their sexually ‘suggestive’ buttock revolutions, that have portrayed them as Jablays (whores) and labelling their music as aural pornography that leads pious men to Haram activities such as getting smashed from anggur merah.
Inul Daratista – Terlambat The guy on the right off Inul redefines the saying ‘rock out with my cock out’.
Lina Geboy – Basah, it means ‘wet’ in English, or ‘moist’ as I like to see it. Damn, Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me? Imma take my shirt off….
When listening to Dangdut with a Western ear for music, one will smirk with amusement and relegate the genre to an embarrassing component of South East Asian culture. However, with self opinions kept to oneself, it is a multi million dollar industry that finds its fan base in Indonesia’s population of about 250 million people.
The expansive influence of Dangdut music has found appeal in the western world, spurning multiple Youtube video’s of white tweens singing along to its bouncy, high tempo rhythm and even founded American Dangdut artists.
So, love it or hate it, and cringe all you want when you hear it. Dangdut is very much an essence of Indonesian music and its culture, and it seems it be an ever evolving genre that can either get better or worst, depending how you look at it.
Arreal Tighlman – Dangdut in America