Monday, December 6, 2021

Ronggeng Dance | A Controversial Dance Art


Seriously I knew nothing with regards to Main Ronggeng or Ronggeng dance/performance until I see and was later explained by En. Nazmi. I remember telling myself I must write about Ronggeng as I have not touch this topic before nor do I know nuts lah kan (obviously). I googled and briefly read thru what is Ronggeng but couldn’t find much info, hence info from En. Nazmi was much appreciated. I do need to put a caveat here that Ronggeng is not originated from Selangor but Selangor is one of the places where it expanded its reach.

Here’s the thing, as far as I know (probably main of us too) is that the word ‘Ronggeng’ has always be associated with bad connotation, I believe movie and media played a role in this too. We always thought that it has to do with ‘bad or club girls that entertain men’, boy was I wrong. So I figure, let’s educate and create awareness on Ronggeng dance/performance.

I was told that the origin of Ronggeng is from Java in Indonesia where couple dance to rebab/violin music, starts with Tarian Melayu (slow pace Malay Dance), Tarian Inang (up tempo dance) and followed by Tarian Joget (quick tempo dance). Form my experience, the song sung was poetic/berpantun and the foot step is in accordance to the tempo with coordinated hand movement. The instruments that accompanied this dance are rebab or violin and a gong. The female dancers are dresses in bright kebaya labuh with a flower on their sanggul (hair bun), whilst men in baju melayu, sampin and songkok.

Desktop research stated that ‘female professional dancers are expected to invite some male audiences or clients to dance with them as a couple with the exchange of some tips money for the female dancer, given during or after the dance (base on Wikipedia).’ However, in verbatim-during the event it was said that the men will invite the lady dancers to, no touching and sexual innuendo are allowed.

Ronggeng is made popular in Southern Thailand and the Strait States namely Penang, Melaka and Singapore. As the we assimilate, Ronggeng has become part of the Malay culture and Ronggeng Melayu (or Malay Ronggeng) became a popular social dance, it is usually performed on Ronggeng stage (dance floow) at amusement parks back in the 1930s and 1940s. Infact, I remember my mom and aunts often talk about the famous BB Park in Kuala Lumpur being THE place to socialise as it has dance hall for cabaret, boxing ring, stage shows, theatres, restaurants and many more, and was closed in the 1970s.

I believe we need to preserve the art of Ronggeng for our younger generation, and effort that need to be undertook by Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, our Art School and relevant parties in order to elevate it internationally.

Rentak Selangor Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor), Tourism #Selangor and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.
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