The kampung and commercial-venue sections of this chapter both begin with events featuring extremely immobile participants. This, I will argue, was primarily a result of levels of formality and economic disparity respectively. Other events in these settings involved transitions into greater inter-gender engagement, though still in comparatively subdued forms. While musical detachment in these contexts generally reflected significant power imbalances among the participants, I will seek to show how engagement in various ways challenged and addressed these imbalances.
Wedding receptions that I witnessed in 2001 were sites of markedly detached bodily postures among guests and hosts, a situation at least partly a result of the symbolically important transitions underway. For guests, the reception phase most often consisted of arriving in formal wear of kain and kebaya for women, and shiny batik shirt and tidy pants for men, shaking the hands of the wedding party, and then sitting down to a meal in a spatial and social arrangement not conducive to conviviality. Throughout the reception, the bride and groom sat on display in a separate chamber.
The musical detachment pervading wedding receptions was not especially related to class position. I attended the predominantly middle-class wedding reception of a senior police sergeant's son at a national police training school outside the city, where music was provided by an ‘electone’ keyboard player accompanying various singers. Most of the 200 or more generally wealthy guests conveyed the sense that they were fulfilling their duties as witnesses and were eager to leave. There were parallels to this at the wedding involving the brother of an Astro Band street musician held near their humble home by the river near the city centre. The band dressed in newly acquired cowboy shirts and played with great exuberance, yet the lower class but well-dressed guests were visibly detached and preoccupied from start to finish. In both cases the event took little more than two hours of a late morning.
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