Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 22 August 2018
It’s too irresistible not to write about the 2018 Asian Games opening ceremony. The 2-hour show that marked the beginning of athletes, gladiators of our times, in the battle of their nation’s pride. It was my first time watching a big event like this live in a stadium and I couldn’t help myself to mark it down on my own notes.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: there’s no doubt the stage is magnificent. There’s a huge freaking waterfall inside of the stadium and the floor was projected with various pictures supporting the show (I was very much reminded by the Victoria Secret runway). Now I did miss the massive Aceh Raboeh Dusk Dance and I heard it was spectacular, and I did miss the president’s entrance which, but from the stories, didn’t impress me much. So, this is based on what I saw by order.
My most teary part was during the torch passing to light the main fire within the stadium, symbolizing the beginning of the Asian Games 2018. It was a relay of many former athletes with Susi Susanti, a gold medalist for badminton in 1992, as the last bearer and setting fire to a man-made volcano. It was such a touching moment because it was so nice to see so many former athletes invited and acknowledged for their achievements. It’s not easy being an athlete in Indonesia. The government hardly supports them, hence it’s not a popular career choice. Moreover, after competitions, many of our athletes have had the hard life, being rickshaw drivers or had no insurance during dying days. Some gold medalist were even Chinese descendants, and it wasn’t an easy time for them during their days of glory. So having them in the spotlight again in such a grand moment made my eyes watery.
During the segment where the whole stage was green, hundreds of dancers came out and danced traditional dances along with their native costumes. With so much to see, sitting close to the stage, I’m sure the athletes were confused on where they had to look. Only 19 traditional dances were presented simultaneously—Indonesia has more than 300 ethnicities, each with various traditional dances—that alone was a lot to see. It had occurred to me that finally many Indonesian cultures are present on one stage in front of an international audience. It was an opportunity to showcase our diverse culture and show that the only one identity of Indonesia is diversity. And one day people would know that Indonesia is not only Bali.
The show was divided into segments showcasing the elements of life, however the last element ‘Energy of Asia’ was much focusing on technology and all things modern. Somehow I’m reminded that technology plays a very important role in our world today. The performance wasn’t too special, or maybe it was too small to see from my seat, but a great stage for Indonesian modern dancers.
I have admired this piano prodigy ever since he became an internet sensation in Indonesia. In the show, Joey played alone on a grand piano while the audience lit up their flash and performed with him from their own seats. Joey played a slow song and the ambiance was set mimicking the night. I had chills listening to him play in his home country, as he was known first to succeed in America before being appreciated by his own nation.
Throughout the show there were many fun times. Not only were the athletes the active subject of the moment, the audience were too. Fun, for me, include singing along to some traditional songs that Indonesians are obligatory to memorize since primary school. I haven’t had a sing-a-long medley like that for some time. Another segment was the interactive choreography during the closing bit, a segment using flashlights from our phones. The moves was super simple, but seeing a stadium filled with people with the same enthusiasm and movement made me feel like I was participating the grand event.
In addition, I do have to add a few splinter-notes to this list. First, I think Erick Thohir, head of the Asian Games 2018, needs a writer for his speech. He basically kept repeating about diversity but, despite that it is an important issue for the country, should speak on a more regional topic. There were a little too many singers performing—one segment had 4 vocalists on stage singing a song together. In the stadium, they didn’t sound different from another. So.. why???
And Agnes Mo—currently has a single with Chris Brown—should be the girl opening the ceremony. Not just because she’s awesome in her stage performances and I’m a huge fan (yes, this is subjective), she is international and her parents are athletes. Need I say more?
Overall, I would say that the Asian Games 2018 opening ceremony was awesome, especially for Indonesia. Although I don’t think it was ‘superbowl’, despite one of important creators did handle the super bowl, I couldn’t be any prouder than what has been done by Indonesia’s finest.
Here’s also a glimpse from the official YouTube account of the 18th Asian Games opening ceremony.