Joged: The Balinese flirtation dance

by Nick on June 13, 2005

by Nick | June 13th, 2005  

Bali has many traditional dances and one of the most fun is the joged bumbung. Tourists will often see and participate in a joged dance. The joged is a flirtation dance and a solo female dancer will select men from the audience with a tap on the shoulder with her fan. Back in 1937 during Miguel Covarrubias's time in Bali, before the onrush of mass tourism, the joged was popular. Here is his description.

-A very popular dance that seems related to the legong is the joged, performed by a girl in a variation of the legong costume and in the traditional legong steps. The dance is considered erotic by the Balinese because the girl entices the men from the audience by 'making eyes' at them during the course of the dance. The man invited must dance with her in postures that represent a love game of approach and refusal (nibing), in which the man tries to come near enough to the girl's face to catch her perfume and feel the warmth of her skin, the Balinese form of a kiss. As the audience becomes worked up, other men 'cut in' and dance with her. I have seen performances of joged that had an intoxicating effect on the crowd, especially in the more decadent form called gandrung, when it is a boy in girl's clothes that performs. Fights among the men of the audience at gandrung dances are not unheard of, a procedure of which is extremely un-Balinese. The joged could easily be a modernized, decadent version of the ancient mating dance still to be found in the village of Tenganan, stronghold of native tradition. There, once a year, a dance called abuang is performed in which the unmarried girls of the village appear dressed in their best, wearing gold flower head-dresses and meet bachelor boys who posture with the girl of their preference in a short dance in which the gestures make one think of a chaste and restrained joged. Curiously enough, the joged is forbidden in Tenganan.-

Look out for a joged advertised at your hotel, it's a good laugh.

{ 3 comments }

Rex June 13, 2005 at 9:37 pm
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I love the joged. As a ballroom and Latin dancer since I was 16, I am comfortable with “being on show”, even though, in the case of Joged, I have very little idea what I’m supposed to do.

One of my very treasured memories was in the Canggu area some years ago. I was with my wife [who I sadly lost three years ago]. Kathy, originally from the North of England, was an accomplished belly dancer. She danced at some very well known venues around Perth and Fremantle and taught this art form for the Western Australian Education Dept. And she was a very beautiful woman.

One of our friends, a taxi driver from that area, had seen Kathy fooling around in a restaurant and knew what she could do. He called around and said that he would like to take us to a special function and stressed that this was his treat and not a paying job.

We finished up at a joged dance totally for local Balinese people. We were the only outsiders there, but were made very welcome.

Several young men got up to try their luck, but the dancer was always in total control. One young guy was trying to show off in front of his mates and get closer to the dancer than was appropriate. She grabbed his hand with one of hers and, although he was bigger, she was stronger and physically controlled him. When she finally let him go, he couldn’t get off the stage quick enough!

Halfway through the evening, the compere made an announcement which we didn’t understand, but we recognised the name “Kathy”. Then Kathy was being ushered onto the stage, where she danced with the Balinese dancer, not joged style, but as a performer of equal standing. It made me feel very proud and I will treasure that memory forever.

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Maryam June 22, 2005 at 10:14 pm
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Does anyone know how I could get in touch with a Balinese dance troupe? I will be in my final semester of Uni in the fall, and would like to take photos of balinese dancers as my exhibition project (i’m a photo major). I will be in Bali from July 20-26. Thanks.

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Maryam June 22, 2005 at 10:15 pm
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Does anyone know how I could get in touch with a Balinese dance troupe? I will be in my final semester of Uni in the fall, and would like to take photos of balinese dancers as my exhibition project (i’m a photo major). I will be in Bali from July 20-26. Thanks.

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