Greased Lightning and Temporary Tattoos

A band of handsomely dressed young men took the stage. Fully clothed in formal attire, waist coats and ties, I naturally assumed that these fine young men would have devoted as much to their music as they did to their apparel. I was sorely mistaken.  As soon as they began, bludgeoningly loud guitars tore through the room, wiping out the audience like the plague. What these boys lacked in technical skill, they also lacked in taste, butchering any chances of leaving the room with my hearing. Being at the stately age of 20 and a half, I maintain my god-bestowed right to complain about loud noise and foreigners. – the reason I kept this in is because I feel like the last sentence about getting old doesn’t make sense without this one- you can take it out if you don’t like it.

What I was witnessing was not the slaughter of a small animal but the beginning of the annual Indonesian community open mic night. ONE Indonesia was a 50s themed event organised by the Indonesian Student Association (PPI Rotterdam) aimed at promoting Indonesian culture and tradition through workshops, food and cultural performance.

Cowering for cover before the next band started, I proceeded to the woefully neglected cultural stands like the batik manufacturing workshop occupied almost exclusively by 6 years olds and a very serious looking 63-year-old man, dutifully manning his station. After half an hour of reading the display and straining to hear the instructions, the grand sum of knowledge gained, was that batik probably has something to do with manufacturing materials and it’s quite pretty. I still have no clue what was happening but the man looked quite old and wise so I’d rather not question his clear seniority.

Leaving the stand I was lulled into a trance by the sound of the traditional music of the Indonesian people- the Grease soundtrack. All your favourite indo-classics were there; Summer Lovin’, Greased Lightning and the other ones that no one really knows. 

Little known fact, 1950s themed Indonesia sounds a lot like 1950s America with both countries clearly sharing a deep seated appreciation for rockabilly and shoo bop. The only discernable difference between these two, obviously akin, cultures was the wonderfully unique Indonesian intonation of the singers. This was fully displayed in, what I assume is, the Indonesian national anthem: You’re the one that I want. This furiously charismatic 50s cover band had taken stage and it really was “electrifying”. The band had me hooked right up until the singer threatened to crowd surf and even then I was still, rather sadistically, cheering them on.

The day was kind of filled with these strange juxtapositions of culture- “come experience our culture through the timeless practise of fake tattoos” or “document today’s cultural experience with a photo in our photo booth…complete with novelty glasses”. It’s pretty difficult to know what to make of all this because on one hand, I don’t want to believe that every country on this little blue dot has effectively devolved in an American wannabe, complete with poor John Travolta impersonators. On the other hand, that cat had some damn fine moves.  

Perhaps I will maintain my right to grow old and leave the party early, whilst any hope for a culturally diverse future still exists.

Daniel Boonstra (20) is a self-proclaimed passionate lover and is unanimously agreed to be a 7.5 maybe a mid-8 at a push when he wears “those jeans”. He studies IBCOM at the Erasmus University and enjoys long walks on the beach. Every month, he visits a student event to shed his light on what’s hot on campus.