In Arab circles in the 1930s plays were staged not only to entertain but also to educate and emancipate the traditionally-oriented Arab minority. The playwrights wanted to emphasize that their community’s future lay in a free and independent Indonesia. Some plays were well received, other evoked protests. Fatimah was one that stirred up commotion. The play came as a slap in the face to traditional members of the Arab community, attacking their outdated ideas and practices, especially the role of religion in a secular state and the position of women. The play is as topical today as it was 80 years ago.
Menagerie 7: People Like Us brings together twenty stories by or about “people like us:” Indonesian gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals. This is a book that should have “come out” a long time ago. Not only do the stories disprove the persistent yet baseless myth that all forms of sexuality and sexual behavior that fall outside the norm of socially acceptable heterosexual behavior are not, somehow, “Indonesian,” but they also show that the Indonesian archipelago is as multi-sexual as it is multiethnic.
Perkolong-kolong, a form of art that combines dancing, music and singing, originates from Brastagi Regency, North Sumatra. Perkolong-kolong is a performance art often hired by the people for traditional Batak Karo wedding ceremonies. The dancers are also singers, and each group consists of two male and two female performers.
The signature of Perkolong-kolong is its use of two or three percussive instruments very small in size, one kecapi, one gong and a flute.
The lyrics sung by the dancers contain words of advice, information that the public needs to know, and elements of moral education. Nowadays, the musical accompniment of Perkolong-kolong is dominated by the keyboard, which replaces the traditional instruments, while the original composition and traditional arrangements are retained. Some contemporary Perkolong-kolong groups even use dangdut music to fulfill public demand.