Grup Gedebong Goyang (the gyrating banana tree trunks) was formed in 2003 in response to the grief experienced by the Balinese after the 2002 bombings. The entire island seemed to be enveloped in a fog. The name came about as Rucina’s husband said to her one day “Do you know what you and your Western girlfriends are called?” I knew something was coming that I wouldn’t like. “What” I asked. “Gedebong”. A gedebong is a banana tree trunk: porous, white and with no shape.
So I decided to form a group that would empower Gedebongs and Balinese women. Grup Gedebong…..there should be a third “G” there, I thought, especially since 2003 was the campaigning year for the presidency and there were dozens of parties, all with acronyms and most of them triple letters such as HHH, PPP, TTT, etc. So I needed to find that third “G”. Aha, got it. Inul was becoming a sensation with her flexible hips and gyrations. “Goyang” means to gyrate or rotate one’s hips so we became Grup Gedebong Goyang.
Four women (the late Kerry Pendergrast from Australia, Sue Winski from the US, Suzan Kohlik from Switzerland and myself from the US), all of a certain age and body type, got together, rehearsed some Balinese songs, found a band (they are still with us today DA BIYU BAND) that would work with us crazy women and started performing at festivals.
We took songs, changed up the words, created skits and fake news shows and made a commitment to be 1) funny 2) empowering to women and 3) not offend the majority. So our political jokes had to be filtered. We have been through two more configurations (Kerry, Suzan, Rucina and Antonella de Santis from Italy), then Suzan, Rucina, Antonella and Alex Ryan from Australia and since 2016 Suzan, Rucina and Antonella.
We are concentrating on making videos (one of our songs has hit the million views!) now. You can see them on our You Tube channel (Gedebong Goyang); there is one with English subtitles: Bali Today
We worked with Mount Agung Relief to make videos on evacuating from the danger zone, how to wear a mask properly and how to protect yourself from Dengue Fever. Here is one example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2TQ6BLPM74&t=7s.