65,000 join Jakarta mass dance for record bid

An aerial view of thousands of Indonesians participating in a traditional dance called poco-poco at the National Monument in Jakarta yesterday.
An aerial view of thousands of Indonesians participating in a traditional dance called poco-poco at the National Monument in Jakarta yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA • Indonesian President Joko Widodo led some 65,000 of his compatriots in a mass dance through the streets of Jakarta yesterday to promote the Asian Games and try to set a world record along the way.

Jakarta and the city of Palembang in Sumatra will jointly host Asia's biggest sporting event from Aug 18, but President Joko has previously complained about the lack of promotion and enthusiasm in the country. In a bid to drum up support ahead of the Games, the authorities turned to the poco-poco, a traditional line dance from North Sulawesi province.

Dressed in white and red - the colours of the Indonesian flag - Mr Joko, his wife Iriana and several high-ranking officials led tens of thousands of Indonesians in a long, snaking line of dancers through the capital.

Organisers hoped to break the world record for the largest number of people performing the traditional dance in one place, and said 65,000 people took part in Jakarta.

"Poco-poco is the original culture of Indonesia and it's a native dance, so we are now performing a mass poco-poco dance with 65,000 people setting the world record, showing and reiterating poco-poco belongs to Indonesia," police chief Tito Karnavian, who took part in the event, said.

Police and military staff, Members of Parliament, students, members of fitness centres as well as inmates in prisons across Indonesia also showed their best poco-poco moves. "I am happy that I can help promote a tradition that could have been forgotten," said high school student Raja Farid Akbar.

About 11,000 athletes and 5,000 officials from 45 Asian countries are expected to flock to Jakarta and Palembang for the Aug 18 to Sept 2 Games, the world's biggest multi-sport event after the Olympics.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2018, with the headline '65,000 join Jakarta mass dance for record bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe