To Muslim zealots’ dismay, Indonesians love raunchy dangdut music

Feb 01, 2018

Not exactly poetic

EVEN before they enter the Asmoro bar, a nightclub in central Jakarta, patrons can hear the music. A regular beat—dang, dut, dang, dut—spills out, only slightly muffled, onto the street. Inside the smoky, dimly lit space, women in tight mini-dresses and teetering heels stand by a stage where nine men play various instruments. Occasionally one woman, known as a “waitress” although she appears to do little waitressing, breaks into song, usually accompanied by one of the male visitors to the bar. At other points the women sway to the music as customers slip them wads of cash, flashing disco lights illuminating them momentarily in the darkness.

On the other side of the city, around a thousand people sit in a television studio owned by Indosiar, a private TV station. They are there to watch the recording of “Liga Dangdut”, a show that started on January 15th. It involves 170 contestants competing to be the best dangdut singer. Male and female performers...

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