Within this blog post I would like to begin an analytical conversation around the punk scene within Indonesia and overlay some of my own brief experiences within the scene against those cited in reputable media and text.
Firstly what’s the significance of the punk movement in Indonesia? ABC’s; RN vividly describes the way Punk can, “provide… community and a way to survive.” (Radio National, 2019) for young Indonesians. Specifically, activist art collectives like Taring Babi have provided and ran thousands of free workshops in an effort to equip young Indonesians with musical and survival skills to co-exist with an oppressive government. The fact that some youths indulge into poverty and make the streets their home merely to defy cultural and religious norms speaks volumes. (Radio National, 2019)
One of the punks I spoke too at a local three-day punk rock festival and market (Instagram: @rv.lintang) hinted at the regulations on their community within Yogyakarta. In response to me asking why they weren’t moshing (mosh: to dance in a wild, almost violent way.) He stated if things got too out of hand the government would shut down their event. He went on to highlight that these events were only possible because they were viewed on a community-based agenda, thus supporting the people and local business. This made sense as I explored the multiple vintage fashion booths and food stalls that surrounded the back of a main stage in a horseshoe layout. They informed me most events and bands thrived on word of mouth and a small social media presence.
The punk scene has not always been so straight forward. For example Indonesian punks known as the Aceh made global headlines in 2011 as they were illegally detained and rehabilitied in a “moral re-education military camp.” (Radio National, 2019), I’ve attached some further links bellow.
Thus the scene I was being exposed too seemed much more ‘relaxed’, in light of this claim I must give tribute to the determination of the Indonesians I met at the three day event I attended. @rv.lintang alluded to the notion that the skate and punk community intertwined at this specific cite, thus the crowd didn’t as strongly represent a punk aesthetic. The clothing stalls boasted a mix of classic street wear, skate culture and punk band merchandise.
Regardless of the relaxed nature I experienced, hints of a punk rebellion persisted, I was offered many homemade Indonesian alcholic beverages, neatly stowed away in plain label ice tea plastic bottles. Hints of the classic mosh culture perpetuated, youth took to the front__ of the stage flung themselves around violently on certain songs. Friends of the performers constantly riled each other up, lifting and throwing their friends, screaming into the microphone, pushing and shoving each other in a violent but lovingly protective manner. The punk scene with it’s lack of aggressive mohawks and jackets layered with sharp silver was well and truly alive at a second glance.
Wallach, Jeremy. “Living the Punk Lifestyle in Jakarta.” Ethnomusicology, vol. 52, no. 1, 2008, pp. 98–116. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20174568.
(www.dw.com), D. (2019). Indonesia’s punk scene rocks on | DW | 02.04.2013.
DW.COM. Available at: https://www.dw.com/en/indonesias-punk-scene-rocks-on/a-16715001 [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].
BBC News. (2019). Punks forcibly shaved for ‘re-education’. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-16176410 [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].
Radio National. (2019). Indonesia’s radical underground punk scene. [online] Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/archived/360/indonesias-radical-underground-punk-scene/5919506 [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].
Sites.psu.edu. (2019). [online] Available at: http://sites.psu.edu/punk/wp-content/uploads/sites/36177/2016/05/Wallach-J-Punk_Lifestyle_in_Jakarta-2008.pdf [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].
the Guardian. (2019). Police arrest punks in Indonesia – in pictures. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2011/dec/14/police-arrest-punks-indonesia [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].
Youtube.com. (2019). YouTube.
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Sbne-qCNzU [Accessed 19 Dec. 2019].