Monday, October 24, 2011

Not a punk kid

credit: banksy (obviously)
I had the rare occasion to meet and talk with my friend from uni a couple of days ago. It's been a while since we actually met for a proper talk and meeting. That night was quite special. My friend had just finished his post-graduate degree and was still recuperating from the thesis-writing process. I found his thesis quite interesting because it was about a punk community that tries to adapt their root culture, Sundanese, into their new-adopted culture, punk. Thus, 'punklung' was born to the world: a combination between punk music and a traditional Sundanese bamboo instrument called 'calung'. Anyway, his thesis came up because of what had happened to me earlier in the day.

I went to pick up a friend at an event, a punk music gig. My friend was not from Bandung, so obviously he didn't know where to go what to do. So, I decided to come and show him around. The venue was an art space; a place from the past. I used to go there when I was still really interested seeing how artists from Bandung struggling to survive. I was not surprised seeing that the punk community used the area as their event's venue.

I was dressed casually; didn't give too much thought to it. A (kind of) white t-shirt, knee-length dark brown pants, black pump shoes and an ethnic shoulder bag, a gift from a friend. I climbed the stairs and immediately got eyes glaring at me, coming from everyone who was sitting on the porch of the art studio. I was a bit surprised. Definitely was not expecting to get as much as a piercing stare from strangers in blacks. And I thought to myself, "Shit, I should've worn black." So then I smiled (at those people who stared) to hide my feeling of awkwardness. And again to my surprise, no one smiled back. Then I thought to myself, "Well, fuck you, Sir." I was glad when I saw my friend, and felt even better when he said he was terribly hungry and wanted to leave so he could eat before the gig started. So we left.

The whole thing happened probably less than 5 minutes, but it was enough to put me on a I'm-not-going-to-watch-the-stupid-music-gig mood. Things would be different, say, if they smiled back, or if they treated me less like an outsider, just because I wasn't dressed like a punk kid. I told this to my post-grad friend. He then in return told me about the way the punk community in Bandung had this weird exclusivity. Weird because at the same time they're screaming they're being marginalised and repressed. Weird because when the so-called-outsiders want to be involved because they care, the kids said outsiders will not understand because they're outsiders. Weren't they being repressive when they were 'hostile' to outsiders? Well, then again, I may exaggerate the situation. Maybe they were just confused seeing a non-punk person coming to their gig. Hence, the confused-and-a-bit-scary expression on their faces.

Nevertheless, I found this a bit odd. I don't quite get the "you have to be one to understand one" concept. I mean, to some extend, it is quite true. But is that the only way? Do you have to be an Englishman to understand English? Do you have to be a moslem to understand Islam? Do you have to be a punk kid (person?) to understand punk? Maybe it's the lack of understanding of the discussed issue that leads people to give that kind of explanation/answer. I honestly don't understand. I do realise that sometimes you become marginalised because someone (something) tells that you are and then later on you put yourself in that position and decide to do nothing about the situation. In the end, it comes to what kind of action that you will take to change your situation, marginalised or not.


tya said...

ahahaha. i've been in that kind of situation too, my dear. with PINK striped shirt! hell yes they were staring at me. not to mention the "assalamualaikum" greeting with mocking tone and offered me a glass of beer - because of my hijab.

They think that they have been marginalized, but then fortify themselves, and build another élite group. This is quite strange because they want to be accepted, with all the attributes/ accessories they used (piercing, tattoo, etc) that make a very noticeable difference, but on the other hand, sometimes they mock those who don't wear it.

Such actions usually come from those who - as far as my observation - just know punk. I think older and wiser punk kid has this insight; that punk is more about spirit and ideology, and they tend to be more relaxed facing outsiders. Well, IMO.

Anyway, i like this post. Gonna send it to a punk fellow ;)

ari leutik said...

Hey Tia,

Thanx for reading and liking and commenting :)

I agree with you: it works for everything really; whether you're punk, anarchist, feminist, or any other so-called-progressive movements, you just need to appreciate differences, instead of frowning at them. It makes life become less tedious, me thinks.

Oh yeah, please spread this post. I got questioned whether anyone ever reads my blog or not a couple of days ago. It gives me a weird paranoid insecurity about myself ahahahaha :D

tya said...

I got questioned whether anyone ever reads my blog or not a couple of days ago. It gives me a weird paranoid insecurity about myself ahahahaha :D << are you kidding me? of course people read your blog. i read your blog regularly. i don't know how many, but maybe you can put blog's stats or any widget like flag counter to ensure if anyone ever visit your blog. just in case that insecurity knock your door again in the future. ahahaha