Joged – A Fun Dance
TEXT BY DARMA PUTRA & ANDREW CHARLES
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MADE WIDNYANA SUDIBYA
Balinese dance usually identifies sacred characters because most dances are performed in connection with religious rituals. However, there are also many secular types of dance that are done purely for entertainment and fun and there are others that are performed with the tourists in mind.
One of the most irreverent of Balinese dances is joged, which is also known as joged bumbung; referring to the instruments made of bamboo used to accompany it. In the Indonesian and Balinese languages, joged means to shake the hips. A joged dancer wears relatively unelaborate attire, comprising a kebaya and sarung. Her head, either with or without gelungan, is decorated with fresh and gold-plated flowers and she will be holding one or more fans while dancing. The fans are used to touch spectators in order to invite them to join the dance.
Unlike many other forms of dance, joged doesn’t have any particular pattern of movement or special steps. It can start and finish at any time but 10 minutes is about the average time for each dancer. Great ability to improvise is a must for a joged dancer and although every dancer can do joged, the audience always expects to see an attractive and charming girl. She has to throw a lot of smiles to make her appearance attractive to the spectators, who are generally predominantly male!
Shaking the hips is one of the important characteristics of joged. The dancer does this in a seductive way in order to attract people to dance with her. An onlooker invited to dance is called pengibing and his dance is called ngibing. In one joged performance, there can be between 6 and 12 dancers and the show can take from 1 to 2 hours. Each girl appears once and invites from 4-8 spectators to dance but there is no set number for this.
A joged dancer usually comes to pick one of the bystanders after making a brief attractive dance movement. She selects one among many of usually rowdy watchers who raise their hands; this invited spectator won’t necessarily know how to dance. Before dancing, the girl gives him a sash to be tied round his hips as a symbol of tying up his desires. While he tries to dance, his appearance will almost certainly look odd and this is a great source of amusement for the rest of the crowd. If you find yourself at a performance of joged bumbung and you don’t fancy being dragged in to the centre, try to keep a good distance away because it is considered impolite to refuse the dancer’s invitation.
Pengibing are attracted to dance, not just because they like it, but also because they are attracted by the charms of the joged. It is not unusual for one or two of the more adventurous young men to try to move his hips so he can touch the joged’s hips, or even to steal a quick kiss. The more beautiful a joged dancer is, the greater the number of men volunteering!
Joged has a long history. In the kingdom era, early 19th century in Bali, the image of joged dancers was not very good. A performance was often arranged by kings to entertain their guests and the dancers were often low status women who could do little to object when asked by the king to please guests, whether romantically, sexually or in any other way.
Unfortunately, the negative image of joged dancers continues until the present time. After the reformation era, joged became a wild performance in terms of its hip shaking and erotic movements.
The distribution of a VCD of pornographic jogged, filmed using an amateur video in 2002, made the negative images of joged even worse. In this and in following years, images of joged caused public controversy; many people liked to watch a ‘wild joged’, while others accused it of not being in accordance with moral values.
Joged had usually been performed in the annual Bali Arts Festival but, as a consequence of the joged porn VCD, the performance disappeared from the 2004 Bali Arts Festival. Interestingly, at the national level, issues of erotic gyrations of the young dangdut singer Inul Daratista also sparked controversy, but it has been allowed and accepted by the dominant view as a type of performing art.
Ideas to promote joged came up and were welcomed as long as the dance developed without any tendency to sensual or sexual movement. A ‘Festival ngibing’ was held to improve the politeness and dancing ability of spectators when invited to dance. Additionally, the aesthetic aspect of the dance was emphasised.
After some efforts to minimise wild aspects of joged, it reappeared in the Bali Arts Festival 2005. As expected, it was in a more polite form though the tendency to the hot shaking hips and kiss-stealing has not disappeared at all.
Joged has often been performed to entertain a group of tourists with the main aim of creating a cheerful and fun occasion where tourists, male and female, can experience stretching their hands for a Balinese dance! The happy and entertaining quality of joged much depends upon where it is performed and who are the audience.