jaiponganJaipongan was developed largely by a single individual, Dr. Gugum Gumbira, as a response to the Indonesian government’s ban in 1961 of Western music (specifically rock and roll). Although an urban dance, the dance form is based primarily on village forms of ketuk tilu and on pencak silat, the Indonesian martial arts. Musically, it is also derived from ketuk tilu and the masked theater dance, topeng banjet. Ketuk tilu was very popular in the villages, but at the time was considered disreputable among urban Sundanese, because it involved mixed dancing (men dancing with ronggeng) and because the movements were suggestive.

What Pak Gugum did was to preserve the basic structure of ketuk tilu, but speed it up. This made the dancer’s role more active. He retained the traditional use of a female singer (sinden), but paired it with urban gamelan orchestration, featuring an expanded drumming section. The form debuted in 1974 when Pak Gugum and his gamelan and dancers first performed in public. It soon became a craze; sporadic attempts to suppress it due to its perceived immorality just made it more popular. Since the mid-1980s Jaipongan’s importance as a social dance has waned, but it remains very popular as a stage dance, performed by women, mixed couples or as a solo.