If the internet has given us one positive thing, it’s the opportunity to experience the best of other cultures and bring our understanding of life closer together.
With that in mind I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to stop talking so much shop and run you through two of the best (and by best I mean oddest) bits of south-east Asian culture I’ve come across.
Luckily for you, both examples use the medium of dance and are genuinely unique.
First up is the Indonesian/Malaysian craze of Poco Poco, which can be best described as a variation of the line dance that arrived in the 1980s, became and national craze and never went away.
It became so popular that at one point Malaysian police departments used it as part of their daily exercise routine. But then disaster struck.
If you’ve heard the phrase Poco Poco, it might be because it achieved a small degree of international notoriety when a cleric in Malaysia issued a fatwa banning it for various reasons but largely because it has people dancing in the shape of a crucifix and elements of soul worshipping.
Perfect reasoning if it weren’t for the fact that it none of that was remotely true and its origins were as an Indonesian folk dance. Judge for yourself in the videos how haram it is.
The second – and really, truly indigenous – is the misleadingly titled Mambo from Singapore.
It has nothing at all to do with the saucy latin dance – in fact it couldn’t be further from a free moving, hip swivelling fiesta.
In the Singapore context, Mambo is short for Mambo Jambo/Mambo Jumbo, which in turn is an adaptation of Mumbo Jumbo (confused yet?).
It’s so localised that it is primarily found in one localised place – a popular Singapore nightclub called Zouk with an outpost in Kuala Lumpur – and on one night of the week.
According to Wikipedia, it is “a somewhat unorthodox mix of 70s and 80s pop hits and house” in which dance moves “usually restricted to hand and upper body movements, are usually expressed in sync with the songs’ progression and lyrics”.
As strange as it sounds, Mambo Nights are a Singaporean institution. There has been an album released and there are even instructional videos online aimed at teaching novices the correct moves.
And because of the power of online, we can bring you these videos and the glorious sight of hundreds of clubbers in action doing Mambo. Isn’t the internet wonderful?