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Controversy in Bali: Erotic ‘Joged Bumbung Jaruh’ Dance Videos Spark Legal Concerns

Controversy in Bali: Erotic ‘Joged Bumbung Jaruh’ Dance Videos Spark Legal Concerns
Controversy in Bali: Erotic ‘Joged Bumbung Jaruh’ Dance Videos Spark Legal Concerns. Image Source:

The rise of videos featuring sexually risqué dancers in Bali has angered the province’s Department of Culture.

Dancers may be subjected to the Pornography Law, and those circulating videos of their performances could face legal action under the Information and Electronic Transactions Law (UU ITE).

The Balinese art-loving community has once again been intrigued by the circulation of a video featuring a Joged Bumbung Jaruh dancer in action.

In the video circulating on Instagram, a woman complete with sacred attributes can be seen performing sexually risqué dance movements that are outside Balinese societal standards. The video, uploaded by an Instagram account named @aryulangun, went viral on social media and caught the attention of netizens. The majority of them were furious about the circulation of the Joged Bumbung Jaruh video, as similar cases have occurred many times in Bali at different times and locations.

The Joged Bumbung Jaruh dance exhibits suggestive movements both during the performance and when accompanied by music. Additionally, there is a widespread phenomenon of female escorts also performing the said sexually risqué movements. Furthermore, the attire typically worn by the Joged Bumbung Jaruh dancers in their performances is no longer considered appropriate as the kamen (a cloth used to cover the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles) they often wear features a high slit.

The circulation of the video has angered the Bali Department of Culture.

Gede Arya Sugiarta, the Head of the Bali Department of Culture, acknowledged that he was considering legal action in this case, especially for the Joged Bumbung Jaruh dancers whose performances do not comply with societal standards, so much so that their performances are potentially borderline pornographic.

“We have been making persuasive and normative efforts for a long time, together with Paiketan Krama Istri [an agency that provides a forum/place for women to participate in various activities in Bali]. Now we are studying the most likely way to eradicate this by bringing it into the realm of law,” Sugiarta told the press on the 16th of March, 2024.

Udayana University criminologist, Prof. Gde Made Swardhana, stated that dancers and those circulating Joged Bumbung Jaruh videos on social media could face legal action. Swardhana also explained that the sexually risqué dance falls under the Pornography Law, and uploaders or distributors of the dance videos are not protected under the Information and Electronic Transactions Law (UU ITE).

Having said that, Swardhana also noted that some Balinese might argue that Joged Bumbung Jaruh, as suggestive as it appears, remains within the corridor of arts.

“But sometimes people often argue that it is considered art – for example, by comparing it to nude or see-through paintings. It cannot be included in the same category as arts and sports, though,” Swardhana remarked.

A local artist from Buleleng, Ary Ulangun, hoped that the authorities and the Bali Department of Culture could intensively socialise the acceptable standards concerning dance performances. If there are dancers displaying eroticism, Ulangun agreed that legal action must be taken.

“If there are still dancers or performers like them, legal action should be taken to avoid pornographic scenes – especially performances that are often watched by minors,” Ulangun told the press on the 16th of March.

Actions to include the Joged Bumbung Jaruh dance in the Pornography Law or ITE Law and law enforcement have yet to be officially carried out.

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