Ketuk Tilu

One generic type of social dance is ketuk tilu, in which ronggeng dance with male members of the audience, usually for a small fee. Ketuk tilu is a traditional social dance that originated in the villages of West Java, with its roots in Hindu tradition. It is said to have originally been performed during fertility ceremonies. Ketuk tilu is now performed as a social dance at almost every festive occasion.

Ketuk tilu (three gongs) derives its name from an instrument that accompanies the dance -- a set of three small kettle-gongs that are mounted on a single frame and played by two musicians. The ensemble also typically consists of gendang (drums), a gong, a rebab (a two-string fiddle), and a female dancer/singer (ronggeng). In ketuk tilu both men and women use basic pencak silat motions in the dance.

Each region has its own term for this social dance. Examples of these are:

  • Jaipongan (from the city of Bandung)
  • Cikeruhan (from the town of Cikeruh)
  • Bajidoran (from the city of Subang)


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.


waledan2Bajidoran originated in Subang, West Java. Bajidoran refers to active fans of Kliningan Bajidoran artists. The word is said to be from the phrase BArisan JIwa DORaka (Group of rebellious people) and also the acronym of the words Banjet, Tanji, and Bodoran (Banjet = a traditional drama, Tanji = a type of traditional music with trumpet, Bodoran = comedian).

Most of the movements of Bajidoran are adopted from pencak silat. The pencak silat movements in this dance are very curved and soft, so it can show its beauty instead of its physical activity.

Usually the performances happen at night. During the performance, the sinden (singer, also known as ronggeng) will call the names of people in the audience. The rule is that anyone whose name is called must come up and give the sinden some money. Sometimes the sinden will sing a song known as lagu tilang or penalty song. It contains the names of many members of the audience, who must each pay a penalty to the sinden. Sometimes the aesthetics of the lyrics are lost because so many names have been added.

Bajidoran is now a popular entertainment, not only in Subang, but throughout West Java. Besides being fun to do, people enjoy watching it. People from all backgrounds, men, women, teenagers, old people, rich, and poor all participate.