The Jakarta Post
Dangdut groups in Tangerang, Banten, have chosen to comply with a recent ban on the use of revealing outfits by female singers during their performances.
The decision was taken in a bid to acquire performance permits from the Tangerang Police.
“Basically, we will just agree [to the ban]. We prefer to comply with the rule instead of losing some income,” said Toing, the boss of Tangerang-based dangdut group RGJ, which usually holds its performances in villages throughout Tangerang regency.
Toing said that in the performances, the group’s singers usually wore tight or low-cut clothing in order to draw an audience.
Audiences in villages such as Dadap or Cisoka, both in Tangerang, preferred to have dangdut groups featuring such singers, he added.
“We always follow the needs of our hosts. I will usually ask them how our singers should dress or whether we should use a particular concept,” he said, adding that most hosts requested that the singers wear clothes that exposed parts of their body, such as the thighs and chest.
Conversely, he further explained, some hosts preferred their singers to dress modestly, such as with long pants and longsleeve blouses.
As stated by Toing, dangdut performances in small regions have long involved female singers with revealing outfits — from mini-skirts and low-cut tops to undergarments.
These singers are also typically instructed to interact closely with the audience, sometimes even providing erotic dances, to get the spectators to throw more saweran, or money, at them.
In some cases, some spectators act excessively by touching or squeezing the singers’ body parts while throwing the money.
Given this fact, the Tangerang Police have recently instructed subprecinct police offices in the region not to issue a crowd permit for dangdut groups whose singers perform with sexually revealing outfits that expose their body parts.
The permit is a solid requirement for dangdut groups holding performances in public areas as such shows are usually flocked to by large crowds.
The police claimed that the ban was needed as singers with “clothes exposing skin” could trigger crimes, like “riots or other immoral acts.”
Responding to the issue, the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) regretted the police’s reasoning in implementing the ban.
“Before anything, the police should have further examined and acquired data on why the criminal cases [were taking place at dangdut performances]. Don’t point the blame so easily on the female singers,” said the commission’s chairwoman Azriana. “On the other hand, the existence of sexy dresses is a complex matter. There is exploitation taking place.”
Azriana echoed Toing’s sentiments, saying that most female dangdut singers were required to wear provocative outfits at the request of their hosts, as well as the dangdut group bosses.
“In many performances featuring women, there is usually a lot of content exploiting women. This is not in the interest of the singers but the industry’s owners as they read and, hence, want to satisfy the market,” Azriana added.
Separately, another dangdut group boss in Tangerang, Asep, also said that he agreed with the police’s decision to enforce a dress code.
“Not all dangdut fans want sexy singers, although dangdut is usually synonymous with erotic performances,” Asep said, adding that his group required the singers to dress modestly. “[Polite dress] has become my strategy to compete with other groups.”