INDONESIA (Part One)
Selamat Detang! So, after our jaunt around Malaysia, we journeyed to the pulsing epicenter of Indonesia, which is the bustling city of Jakarta. When I say “bustling”, I mean just that. Upon our arrival to Jakarta, we were instantly welcomed with an amount of traffic unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’ll talk more about the specifics during the post tour wrap-up. During our stay in Jakarta we were able to post up in the uniquely awesome Artotel for 6 straight days, which was a nice “home base” to return to after each day. What was cool about this place was that 8 local Indonesian artists each got to represent a different floor of the hotel with their own unique style, concept and design of the hotel art. It was a great place to come back to after long days of work! Check it out here : ARTOTEL JAKARTA
Our time in Jakarta was unbelievable and pretty different from our time in Malaysia. First and foremost, we found that the amount of English that was known in Indonesia was much less than what we encountered in Malaysia. We found it necessary to incorporate translators into several of our shows to ensure the main talking points were conveyed properly to the audiences. This was the first time that we’ve had to do this and it taught us quite a bit about having to adjust more on the fly within the midst of ongoing performances.
We figured this out at our very first engagement in Jakarta, which was with the students of Jakarta State University. These students offered us such a warm welcome to their university. We workshopped about 50 choir members (along with approximately another 100 students just observing) and got to answer a lot of questions from the eager students. The nighttime performance was super fun and memorable because it was so intimate. We performed our full show in their music room and it was so personable. Honestly, those are some of the best performances that REVOICED gets to do. Sure, performing in front of large audiences is exhilarating and gets the adrenaline pumping but it’s the smaller audiences that you really get to know and share more intimate moments with. Those are the real special ones. Those smaller audiences usually have such wonderful personalities that it’s hard not to be touched dearly because you’re literally mere feet from them. You get to see and feel every emotion of theirs and that’s so special. That’s something that you really can’t gather from the larger audiences in the same way.
Day 2 was an intense day. We drove about an hour and a half to Bogor to meet the unbelievably charismatic students and faculty of the Al Falak Islamic Pesantran (aka boarding school). Let me tell you something, we weren’t ready for this day at all. This day brought about another amazing “first” for us in REVOICED; we needed a security detail once on the grounds of the Pesantran. Lead by Uphie and Pira, two of our amazing reps from the US Embassy, they gathered a rock solid team of women at Al Falak that helped protect us from the screaming students that were desperately clawing for selfies and the mere ability to touch our hands. Girls, boys, students, faculty… all were pumped for our presence and we didn’t even sing anything yet!
The whole day was outside in the middle of the Pesantran and it was a scorcher. We ditched our normal suits and decided to dive into the beautiful Indonesian culture by wearing some colorful Indonesian batik shirts. Batik is a “technique of wax-resist dyeing” that is applied to cloth with beautiful colors and designs. You’ll be able to see from our pictures that batik’s and REVOICED are a match made in heaven. With the power of our batik’s, we dove into meeting the students and what was only supposed to be a workshop, quickly turned into a beatbox jam session with Chesney and several of the students that were a part of the beatbox club at the school.
After the jam session concluded, we were presented with a beautiful opening ceremony by the many of the students that involved traditional musical prayer, dance, and the beatbox troupe even broke it down for everyone to get the show off on the right foot! Our performance was fun for everyone but the better parts of the day was when we were just all hanging out and having fun with each other. And to conclude our visit we were all given beautiful wooden rod puppets called “Wayang Golek” as parting gifts. They’re 100% handcrafted and just absolutely stunning. According to our US Embassy rep / bouncer Uphie, these puppets are commonly made in the Indonesian Province of West Java, which is a an island covered by lush, woody forests. These puppets are used to tell stories loaded with comedy and moral virtues during special events such as weddings, religious ceremonies or cultural days. We were so humbled to receive such a beautiful gift of thanks from everyone at Al Falak Pesantran.
Day 3 brought us to a somewhat familiar location. The location is called “@america” and is the US Embassy’s American cultural center in the heart of Jakarta. Here, @america “provides a space for young Indonesians to learn more about the United States” and to share ideas about issues cared about by both Indonesians and Americans. The @america venue is modern, colorful, comfortable, and doused with American Culture. Via state of the art technology, @america hosts discussions, web-chats, performances, debates, workshops, and exhibitions of all kinds. We were honored to be able to perform here.
Another intimate audience of vocational school students, faculty, some representatives from the South Jakarta District Attorney’s Office gave this tiny venue the symptoms of a rocking house party! We were also able to meet and chat with the other vocalists from three local a cappella groups after the show. What amazing and down to earth people, although they wouldn’t sing for me which bummed me out! Next time I’ll get ya’ll to sing even if I have to follow you home!
Following a relaxing day of rest and amazing / cheap massages, we brought our time in Jakarta to a booming close with two performances on our last day in town. In the morning we got to perform a short set on the streets of Jakarta during their “Car Free Day”, which happens every Sunday when Jakarta’s main thoroughfares (Jalan Sudirman & Jalan Thamrin) are closed from 6am to 11am. During that time, approximately 100,000 people ranging from joggers and cyclists to children on scooters, and street hawkers take over the 5km stretch of road. During this time, we performed right on the street with a large crowd of onlookers grooving with us as we did what do. It was short, sweet, and feel good for all.
Later in the evening we took part in an amazing festival called Festival Bebas Batas meaning “Free of Boundaries”. This amazing event was organized by the Indonesia Ministry of Social Wealth, National Gallery, and the British Council combined and was Indonesia’s first festival of work by disabled artists and hopefully it’s the first of many! All of the performances that we saw that evening were beautiful and unbelievably moving because they were all performed by individuals with some sort of disability. This evening stirred up many emotions for everyone as it reminded us that it’s not as easy as it should be for some people to be included in things that many of us get to experience without any effort. Festival Bebas Batas hopes to be the educational spark that will catch on and help educate the public that people with disabilities share the same role in community life as those without disabilities. The potential that this Border Free Festival has isn’t just limited to the showcasing of beautiful artwork. It also has the ability to open up doors for networking, discussions, friendships, job placement programs and opportunities as well as much more for those that struggle to obtain those experiences that many experience regularly without any thought. Needless to say our already positive experience in Jakarta was brought to a close by an infectious evening doused in “love” and “inclusion” for all.
A major thanks to our ground team / bouncers from the US Embassy in Jakarta for everything. Uphie, Pira, and Jed… you are all amazing it was a pleasure to work with you all! Can’t wait to work with you guys again. Terima kasih!
Next stop… Palembang, Indonesia!!!
– Chris –
#revoiced #AmericanMusicAbroad #ExchangeOurWorld #CulturalDiplomacy