Dangdut and Fashion Influences from the West, India and Korean

Just like the standard of an ideal body for women, in the globalization era fashion influences from abroad can rapidly spread among Indonesian through the means of various mediums, such as magazines, local mass media, and the internet. The development of the world of commerce, accompanied by the advances in communication technologies in the process of globalization, has triggered the integration of many culture, and in the end creating uniformity in many societal groups.

The standard of beauty and appearance from the West is one of the things that are often referred to by Asians, including female dangdut singers, for many decades. Dresses, mini skirts, black leather, high heels and boots are a few examples of Western influences that shaped the style of female dangdut singers.

In the 1990s, in the music video for "Bisik-Bisik Bisangga", Elvy Sukaesih was seen alternately sporting a brown fringe jacket (usually worn by cowboys), black leather jacket, fedora hat, beret hat, and long red dress, with long hair and poufy bangs, which at that time were the trend in the West. In 2009, in the music video for "Cinta Satu Malam", Melinda appeared to be wearing a sparkling gray sleeveless mini dress, black thigh-high boots, and big hoop earrings. This style can easily be seen in American singers such as Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, or Beyonce.

Since the 20th century this androgynous style has been seen in a number of Western celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn, as well as several fashion model when showcasing designs from Chanel or Yves Saint Laurent.

Next up is fashion from India, as seen in Cucu Cahyati’s backup dancers in her music video “RT 5 RW 3” who were wearing Saris. This kind of fashion were first introduced by Ellya Khadam in her live performances and music videos for many of her hits such as “Boneka India”, “Janji” and “Pengertian”. Itje Trisnawati, another female dangdut singer, once donned a similar style when performing “Bunga dan Kumbang”.

Apart from India, fashion from other Asian countries such as Korea and Japan is also featured in female dangdut singer’s performances. The influence of Korean fashion in Indonesia is inseparable from the spread of Korean pop culture (known as Korean Wave) in the early 2000s, which includes music (KPop), television series and movies, and video games. In dangdut music, Korean Wave’s influences can be seen in Ayu Ting Ting’s performance in the music video “Sik Asik”, where everything – from the fashion, how the video was produced, choreography, and musical arrangements of the song – was inspired by KPop.

In the video Ayu was seen wearing a few costumes. The first was a long-sleeved tee paired with pastel-colored mini skirt. Then she changed into a sequined dress with pointy shoulder and a long black coat with a white wide collar accent. The video also featured a male model of an Oriental descent. The whole aspect of the video brought Ayu Ting Ting’s brand of dangdut closer to KPop.

Regarding Kpop influences in her brand of dangdut, Ayu Ting Ting herself admitted in an interview, “…. People can get bored. That’s why I wanted to make a new one. I mix my dangdut with a touch of KPop,” (Kompas.com, January 17, 2012). Based on the argument that globalization triggers uniformity and creating segments in fashion, Korean-style fashion can be seen as having similarities with Western fashion. For instance, if we compare clothing worn by Western, Korean and Indonesian celebrities, we will find a number of similar fashion items and clothing combinations. Blazers and high heels are examples of fashion items that connect the style of celebrities from those three regions.

Another instance is the music video for “Nobody But You” by Korean girl band Wonder Girls, where 1960s fashion of the West is evident – beehive hair, sparkly dress, gloves and high heels. Meanwhile, in Ayu Ting Ting’s “Sik Asik” music video, the dress with pointy shoulder worn by the singer was similar to the kind of dress that Western celebrities, like Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga or Rihanna, would often wear. What distinguishes Western and Korean fashion lies in the detail modifications.

Within Korean fashion, hairstyle is another aspect to be highlighted. Many Kpop singers dyed their hair with a lighter color. This can be an indication that bright colored hair, often portrayed by Western media, is a beauty standard, which is then followed by Asian women who naturally have darker hair. Ayu Ting Ting, Inul Daratista and Trio Macan are a few examples of women in dangdut who incorporated dyed hair into their style.

As outlined above, Western, Indian and Korean fashion style indicate several things. First, Western-style fashion represents glamor and luxury. While Indian fashion is an interwoven part in dangdut as the music heavily drew inspiration from Indian music. This also applies in the context of dangdut and KPop crossover, as it was evident in the song “Sik Asik”. Lastly, the amalgamation of fashion and dangdut signify the efforts made by players in the dangdut industry to reach a wider audience, and saturation in the consumption of this music – as expressed by Ayu Ting Ting in her interview with Kompas.com. Furthermore, the varied and ever-changing style of dangdut singers can also be seen as an attempt made by the producers to show that dangdut is not outdated, either from its musicality or imagery.


Ayu Ting Ting: Dangdut Campur K-Pop. (2012) Kompas.com. Diakses dari https://bola.kompas.com/read/2012/01/17/18242867/