With terraces and water gardens nicely laid out under giant trees, the new Ayodya Barito park near Blok M is surprisingly attractive. The usual suspects were in attendance with high school and under predominating over crusties.
My three-year old nephew wasn’t the youngest rasta-nesian in attendance, but he was right up there. The little dude climbed on a park park bench to keep out of the mud and properly get his skank on. Mud seems to be a recurring theme at these free Indonesian reggae shows.
Like the last show, it took Psycho to get everybody rocking to the rhythm. Even the willing weren’t always able — due to the wet, hilly terrain and poor acoustics. If the stage had been facing the opposite direction — out over the water — it seems many more Jah-kartans could have been accommodated. Some 80% of us found ourselves on the ass-end of the bands and the speakers.
Turnout must have somehow been wildly at odds with the hopes and expectations of the promoters — if there were any promoters. The cool, moonlit venue itself was eerily free of tobacco advertising. And it crossed my strange, dark mind that perhaps everything was just as it seemed and this was just some bands jamming in the park. But there are few secrets in Jakarta. And Tony Q at Blok M is never going to be one of them.
By midnight everyone had edged a little closer to the center of the park. And despite an earnest self-policing effort , Jack and Jill did start to slide down the hill — towards the ponds — since even South-East Asians can only squat for so long (approximately 205 minutes).
Despite a total absence of cops and security, kids stayed pretty well under control. At one point I did catch Jack sipping some very nasty stuff from a black plastic bag through a straw. And in another episode, Jill was totally passed out amongst the flowers. No idea what her deal was. The flowers, by the way, took it the hardest. Despite a very earnest self-police job on the part of — I guess — the promoters, people kept wandering through the plastic line and trampling the lilies.
I figured it was just a matter of time till some soul rebel or another ended up in the drink. Would it be a gleeful rasta-lad in red-gold-green knit beret? Or his woman, in knee-length jeans shorts and Bali hippy smock?
In the end, the thunder cracked, the massive tropical trees towering over the pond swayed, and thousand-plus one-lovers scrambled for their vespas.
Some of the anak rasta queried said they remembered Indonesian reggae being more popular when they were in grade school. But the gloom and doom reports of reggae on the rocks and downtrends in Jamaican music seem to be at odds with scenes like this. Many thousands of Indonesian kids who have adopted “Marley” as a last name for Facebook purposes. What’s up with that?