“To the committee of sohibul hajat, please bring ten chairs and one box of mineral water onto the stage, thank you…” That was the statement from the MC as a sign that the Familys Dangdut Show was about to start soon. This time, Dangdut Familys was shaking East Pamulang area, South Tangerang. From Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, to Tangerang, who didn’t know Familys? It was a dangdut group name which was known by many people. From farmers, labors, traders, housewives, to officials, member of parliaments, conglomerates, old and young people, adults and children, all were entertained by this unique music with beautiful and melodious voice.
At first, they made a dangdut music group just for fun, because at that time there was a place where young people who liked dangdut music liked to hang out. There were people who could play guitar, kendang, bass, and sing among them. So they made a dangdut music group which they called ‘Familys’, which meant family. The name Familys was chosen because the members of that group had a family relationship with each other. But as time went by, people often called them pamilis (familys).
Starting from 1992, this group started its career by performing on a small scale from village to village. Ultimately, many people knew its presence. Then this group made a successful performance on 5 July 1993 in Aliandong (a name of an alley in Sawangan, Parung). Its principal was not about the money, but prioritizing the quality. One of the managers and founders of Familys was Bang Iwan. He had been close to and knew one of the members of Soneta Group led by H. Rhoma Irama, H. Riswan, a bamboo flute player. Bang Iwan then had an idea to ask H. Riswan to be the leader of this Familys Dangdut Group. He said so that the Familys’s name became solid and more famous.
In East Pamulang, on Pinang Alley precisely, we were welcomed by the merchants’ offers. They sold various stuff such as fried tofu, tapaiuli, boiled peanuts, children’s toys, drink, dangdut VCD, and so on. What interesting here was when I approached a dangdut VCD merchant, apparently he sold many Familys Dangdut VCD. When I had a casual chat with him, it turned out that he was a merchant who sold Familys Dangdut VCD faithfully. According to him, as long as the place where Familys performed was still easy to reach from his house in Pondok Aren, he would always be there to sell the dangdut VCD of Familys Group. This man with Betawi dialect admitted that he had already become a part of Familys’s family, even the hat he wore when he sold the goods had the words ‘Familys’ written on it.
When I walked towards the stage, my eyes fixed on the under the stage part. There I saw an activity under the light of a 10 watts bulb which was hung on the foot of the stage. The curiosity came over me, so I decided to approach it. Oh…apparently it was a merchant who also sold the Familys Dangdut VCD. He sold his goods under the back part of the stage which had a height less than 1.5 m. I stooped to reach the place where he sat. His goods were spread out on the cardboard on the ground. The cigarette merchant sometimes stopped by our place, because he saw us standing around the VCD merchant.
“I brought this bulb from home, to light my goods. I get the electricity from the stage,” answered this VCD merchant who had really thick Betawi accent when I asked him where he got the electricity from. It was the first time I saw a merchant trading under a stage. The Family VCD merchants sold their goods at a price of 20,000 IDR/piece. That was the price before the show started. When the show was over the price could drop to 10,000-15,000/piece. “Well, it’s late, the important thing is the goods are sold, even though the profit is less,” said one of the merchants who also always followed the Familys wherever they had a concert.
While waiting for the show to begin, Umam and I stopped by the merchant who sold Betawi food, under the light of an oil lamp, which made me eager to try this Betawi food. There were Tapai Uli, Onde-onde, Tofu and Apem Cake. I bought the tofu from a woman who claimed that she came from Jombang Administrative Village, Ciputat, an area which bordered on Pondok Aren District. She always traded every time Familys performed. Beside her, there was a young man hanging out near a motorcycle. Maybe he was her son. Maybe they followed every Familys’s show which was certainly visited by many audiences who would be the buyers of his mother’s goods. Perhaps he brought the cake’s ingredients, the stove and the pan by his motorcycle from Jombang Administrative Village to the areas they could reach where Familys performed.
For 2,000 IDR I could enjoy three pieces of fried tofu which tasted a little salty. “I always trade when Familys performs, Tong (a nickname for a Betawi boy). But if it is far, I don’t,” said that woman. After finishing my tofu, Umam and I walked towards the stage. Along the way to the stage there were many sellers who sold things such as ketoprak, meatball, ice and balloon.
This show which would start at 9 PM until late at night invited many people who wanted to dance enjoying the dangdut music. The audiences came from various places around East Pamulang, Sawangan, Pondok Cabe, Ciputat, even Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. The concert show started with a song from Soneta Group, ‘Riba’. The audiences dissolved into the rhythm sung by the Familys members.
Dangdut was a genre of music which developed in Indonesia. This kind of music was rooted in Malay music in 1940’s. At the Familys’s dangdut music show, the audience wasn’t only the ordinary people, but there were also many community organizations that came crowding the front part of the stage such as, PP (Pemuda Pancasila – Pancasila Youth), FBR (Forum BetawiRempug – Betawi Brotherhood Forum), Forkabi (Forum Komunikasi Anak Betawi – Betawi People’s Communication Forum) and BMB (Barisan Muda Betawi – Betawi Young Front).
The show was getting merrier. It was proven from the audiences who seemed enthusiastic to fill up the stage area, especially in the front part of the stage. The children dissolved into the show too. Some children watched it on the stage and from the corner of the stage. Some even watched it from under the stage, between the stage’s floors. When I cast a glance at them, they were engrossed in watching the vocalist sang when she went on the stage background wearing her seductive outfit. The first vocalist who performed was Amoy Karamoy. In a short time she managed to hypnotize the audience with her deadly sway. I thought her sway was very sexy it stunned all eyes watching. That thing invited the audience’s instinct to come onto the stage just to dance and to give the money to the singer.
However, there was something that bothered me, which was the number of children who were also fascinated by the dance that was performed by Amoy. On the stage, there were transactions of money exchange between audiences who wanted to give the singer money and one member of Familys, who was in charge to exchange money to the audience. For example, an audience had 100,000 IDRbill and he wanted a lengthy period of dance with the singer on the stage, then the 100,000 IDR bill was exchanged by the Familys member who provided notes or coins of lower value, from 1,000 to 50,000 IDR. The audiences only gave money to the vocalist they liked, both the performance and the song they sang. Usually, the money the singer got from the audience was put into the Familys’s cash, then it was divided in two, 50 % for the Familys and 50 % for the players’ and vocalists’ fees, in accordance with Familys policy. According to Bang Iwan, as the event coordinator and Familys’s manager, the singers’ fees were bigger than the players’ because the singers got more extra point. It was because they needed their own additional fund. They had to prepare their own makeup and costumes. That was why they were paid bigger than the players.
The band players in Familys Group had their own uniforms. Maybe one of the uses of the cash was to make their costumes. They had several types of costume. That night they wore red short-sleeve shirts and black pants. When we had visited Bang Iwan’s house, his wife had shown us their top uniform, which was a short-sleeve shirt patterned with black and white stripes, just like a referee’s uniform. I had seen them wearing those uniforms on the cover of their VCD. There was another mandatory uniform they had. It was a type of baju koko (a collarless long or short-sleeve Muslim shirt for men with traditional embroidered designs similar to Chinese shirt). The uniform’s color was white and had short-sleeves. Bang Iwan’s wife called it ‘Baju Soneta’ (Soneta Shirt). Maybe because Soneta, the famous Dangdut Group often wore a uniform like that, and also because the influence of Soneta was very strong in this group, because they were also led by one of Soneta members, Haji Riswan.
At 1 AM exactly, the Familys dangdut show was over. The audiences left the stage area one by one. The merchants were ready to close their shops. It was the time when Umam and I tried to approach the singers who were relaxing and taking a rest after singing. I asked permission to them to take their pictures. I was amazed while I was taking pictures, because even though they were tired after singing, they were still very cheerful, even a little bit ‘narcissistic’ when their pictures were taken. After the photo session was over, finally, one by one the singers left the stage and got ready to go home. Some of the singers were picked up by their boyfriends, and some others went home together with the other Familys members.