Bali’s Rockin’ Style

By Hannah Black

This may sound condescending, but when I arrived in Bali, I was amazed by the stylishness of the young people. Coming from New York via the UK I never expected Bali to be such a trendy place.

I’m not sure exactly what I did expect, but it sure wasn’t 1970s New York punk.

I was amazed by the amount of guys sporting shaggy rocker haircuts, black jeans and tattoos. The island had even been touched by the worldwide phenomenon of the faux-hawk (almost Mohawk, but less daring).

On the Kuta surface it may look like everyone is decked out in head-to-toe surf gear, listening to Bob Marley 24 hours a day, but delve a little further into the real Bali and you’ll be surprised to find a bubbling underground music scene and a whole lot of youngins trying to express their identity just like everywhere else in the world.

When I met my husband, Ongky, I had been warned about the various facial piercings he had, but I had no idea he would have the grand selection he does. He is ahead of his time by Bali standards when it comes to extra bodily holes.

He’s always saying he doesn’t like to be just another part of the crowd and for sure he isn’t – one of the many reasons I married him.

Silakarang, the village where I live, seems to be especially under the influence of the rock n’ roll bug. The drummer of just-about-as-famous-as-they-come-from-Bali band Superman Is Dead is from here and has been known to make appearances with the band at charity nights.

These nights usually held in the volleyball court, have been some of the most crazy punk/underground/rock nights I’ve witnessed anywhere in the world.

The last time a big gig was held over a 1,000 people came in their darkest, sharpest, most shredded and chained outfits. There were kids from six or seven years old with Mohawks and studded belts eating sate and nasi at the warungs.

I’d never seen anything like it in my life.

Once upon a time I’d be down there in the mosh pit with them, but the girls seem to hang back; that, and I was about five months pregnant at the time.

One thing that troubles me about the current styles (skinny jeans, lumberjack flannel shirts and Palestinian-style scarves) is that it’s just too damn hot here for all that. I know in the UK – well, in the north at least – the lassies like to show off their outfits, forfeiting coats and scarves in the most icy of weather; but here it’s just far too sweaty.

Are young men not worried about overdressing and therefore smelling not so fresh, ruining any chance of impressing the ladies with their styling?

Although this article is mostly aimed towards man-style, I’ve noticed in the past few years girls’ trends have been changing, too. Shorts are definitely getting shorter, and sleeveless shirts are no longer a village no- no.

Haircuts are also getting shorter and there are more women straightening and dying their naturally gorgeous locks. I’ve even started to notice a few more tattoos about, although mostly secret ones easily hidden from disapproving family members.

I’m sure this evolution has been going on much longer than I’ve been here, and I know things like tattoo and piercing was born in this part of the world, but I’m sure Western influences are helping the kids to break out of their traditional roles.

However, style here seems to be just that. It is not a lifestyle change, purely an aesthetic choice.

One thing I don’t see, nor do I ever expect to, is young people shirking their community and religious responsibilities, something that so often goes hand in hand with rebellious style.

That’s the real reason Bali officially rocks.

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One Response to “Bali’s Rockin’ Style”

  1. Concrete Beam Says:


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