Get some culture into you

3 Feb

Malam Budaya or Culture Night is the traditional end to the four week PIBBI program. It is something to be feared as a girl or anticipated if participating in just the for week program. It’s also the time where it is best to keep your mouth shut and not tell the Course Director that you know a traditional Javanese welcoming dance.

The night started early for a number of the other girls and I with hair and make up appointments to attend followed by being dressed in some incredibly uncomfortable traditional Indonesian clothes. We had people dressed in outfits from Papua to Aceh and everywhere in between which was a nice change from the usual heavy turnout of Javanese outfits. For me it meant going through the process of being dressed for gambyong which features several metres of fabric, a corset, a hair piece adorned with gold accessories, sampur (scarves), a lot more bling and then topped off with a two metre chain of jasmine flowers which left me smelling lovely but unable to sit down. Faced with the idea of not being able to walk properly or sit down let alone go to the toilet or breathe, it was time for culture night. IMG_0770

It’s always fun to see your newfound friends descend on the LTC (Language Training Centre) and laughing at how ridiculous you all look. The host families find it entertaining and everyone gets a chance to mingle before the ceremony begins. This was the part I feared the most as I would be the first performance of the night’s proceedings and as the gamelan started playing and I waited for the D’lang of the drum, the sign to make my entrance, Malam Budaya began.

Gambyong, a traditional Javanese court dance is a dance I have a great deal of respect for but not one I particularly enjoy performing. It requires complete control over your movements in order to dance slowly and gracefully. Also if you get Gambyong wrong it looks awful. I have never been an expert at controlling my movements with anyIMG_0786 degree of grace so the pressure was well and truly on. I was extremely focused during the dance so can’t really comment on it however many of the Indonesian audience members loved it so it must have been ok.

After my dance we presented our cultural class activities including pencak silat, batik (which I had to present), cooking and gamelan. This meant everybody had to play some role in the night before we got our certificates and transcripts. Group photos were followed by dinner and a chance to try a different aspect of Indonesian culture- karaoke where I attempted to entertain  the crowd with a Rod Stewart classic. There was more photos and a chance to have a chat to different people and then we were entertained by a Papuan dance which bore strong resemblance to a traditional aboriginal dance. We were then invited to join in this dance with mixed results. As the night drew to a close and it was becoming later it was time to get out of our IMG_0814uncomfortable traditional clothes and head off to the local bar for a few drinks and a debrief of the night.

Malam Budaya was a really fun night despite its meaning being slightly affected by the fact we still have another three weeks of the program left to go. We did have a fair few people leave after four weeks who will all be missed and Malam Budaya marked the end of what has been an enjoyable four weeks.

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