Everything To Sea runs trips in the Flores Sea of the Indonesian Archipelago – not too far from Bali. In this blog post, we want to put a spotlight on the island of Bali – a place our travelers often want to explore either before or after the cruise. Known as The Island of the Gods, Bali is abundant with cultural activities and traditions. Our Support Specialist Ron Roeslan wrote this piece about “Kecak” – a ritual that features a hundred half-naked men. Enjoy!

Bali, often nicknamed “The Island of the Gods” or sometimes “The Island of a Thousand Temples”, is known as a mythical place rich with art and culture, fascinating its visitors. 

One thing the Balinese still maintain is the famous Kecak. Part ritual, part art-performance, part dance, Kecak is carried out by about 100 bare-chested men wearing nothing but black-and-white sarongs. It is meant to illustrate the world’s diversity. For the Balinese, it’s important that each aspect of the world is in balance. The concept is that there are many differences in the cosmos, and they should strive to be in harmony. Kecak is often performed before sunset surrounded by breathtaking views, such as the oft-visited temple in Uluwatu. 

“Chak … chak … chak”. This is the repetitive sound of chanting during Kecak. All the male performers vocalize it in synchronicity. Some of them drop into trance. Watching it is engaging… mesmerizing… hypnotic… and exciting. There’s really nothing like a Kecak experience.

There has been an ongoing debate about the origin of this ritual. Some people say it was created by Balinese artist Wayan Limbak in 1930, and then promoted to the world with the help of his friend, a Russian-born German artist, Walter Spies. However, some claim it was Spies himself who choreographed it as a dance performance.

Kecak was inspired by the Sang Hyang dance and Ramayana stories. Sang Hyang is a form of ritual dance where the performers are in trance, so they can communicate with the Gods – as well as their own ancestors – and therefore deliver their message. The Ramayana itself is a story depicted in Hindu scriptures. It tells the battle between the good King Rama with an Evil King, Rahwana, in an attempt to save Rama’s wife Dewi Sita. The good king is aided by the monkey god, Hanuman. In Kecak performance men sit in concentric circles chanting “chak – chak – chak”, representing a full army of monkeys.

One might wonder what musical instruments they use during it. Kecak is actually performed without any instruments – it’s a capella. The sounds come from the mouths of all of the performers who vocalize the chants, as well as from metal bells that are attached to the dancers’ ankles.

This compelling show is highly recommended for guys who visit Bali. Anyone interested in dance, ritual, storytelling, or feeling masculine energy and expression, will not be disappointed. Should you travel with us, Everything To Sea is more than happy to organize viewing a Kecak as part of your Add-On experience on The Island of the Gods. 

Chak … chak … chak … chak … chak … chak … chak … chak … chak!