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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: October 2015




On Saturday night in Yogyakarta, the fourth of August 2001, the full moon cast iridescence through the city lights. Thousands of Indonesians, cashed up after their monthly payday, were further cramming the bustling city centre. Preparations for Independence Day added to the fanfare. Megawati had replaced Gus Dur as Indonesian President, after a drawn out and often heated showdown between leaders and supporters alike. On the streets of Yogyakarta, hundreds of red flags were posted along roadsides and across the front of buildings, while the Islamic parties’ green flags had, for the time being, all but disappeared.

In the Sosrowijayan kampung near Malioboro Street, the Shower Band had just finished their first public performance at Resto café/bar. Most of the band's dozen members worked as tourist street guides, and resided close by the popular backpacker-patronised Resto. An air of jubilation surrounded the Shower Band musicians, most of whom, with several others, drank and talked at their hangout across the street from the bar. Gradually they clustered into smaller groups: a few settled on the makeshift benches; some made their way home; and half a dozen, carrying three guitars and small bags, headed eastbound toward Malioboro Street.

At the Sosro Bahu becak driver stand, the musician-guides met with a drifter who carried and played his trumpet wherever he went. The bench inside the stand, usually occupied by becak drivers, was now transformed into a venue for a drinking and music-making party for street guides and a few of their friends. The young guides, already quite merry, settled in and began to strum and sing along together. Soon some of them were slouching back comfortably in the relatively luxurious, padded roadside seating; others standing and singing at the tops of their lungs.

Significantly, Sosro Bahu becak drivers returning to their stand from their evening's rounds neither joined in the gathering nor expressed any discomfort toward the guides. Instead, they walked their becak along the nearby alleyway and to the rear section of the Yogya Tours office.

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Musical Worlds of Yogyakarta
  • Online ISBN: 9789814414463
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