It Takes a Village to Raise a Festival, Ngayogjazz Round Up 2024

It takes guts to let a hord of strangers wander through your village, perch on your steps and dance around your crops – but for around 10 hours the village of Gancahan became Ngayogjazz, and threw open its doors for tens of thousands of music fans and musicians to call its streets home.

Among them was baby Bian, out for the day with his parents and grandparents for their first festival. Held by the Hamengkoni stage, Bian was transfixed by the sounds of the Purwokerto jazz community Romansa, his tiny arms outstretched toward the stage. “Our house which is just by the fields over there,” said his grandmother Tumiatini. “This is the first time Gancahan has held an event like this so we’ve come to see what’s happening!”

It is during the evening that Ngayogjazz really comes to life and the crowds draw in from all across the city. With a site as large as a village, the site team spends weeks before each festival planning how best the lighting of the festival can accentuate the area come sundown, highlighting certain features such as the traditional Joglo buildings dispersed around the neighbourhood and towering fruit trees. The lighting team works alongside long-time Ngayogjazz collaborates, Froghouse, a group of community-centered bamboo artisans who respond to each host village with their intricate installations and gateways. Each stage takes on its own personality, and this year was particularly atmospheric.


As the sky turned from magenta to purple, groups stood around the timetable billboards pointing and debating who to see next. Down at the Hangayomi stage, a small Joglo set a small walk away from the bustle, crowds sat trancelike watching Rotterdam-based electronic duo Kretek Beats. Along a winding path to the Hamengkoni stage by the village lake, the crowd salsa-danced and shimmied to the lively Papiculo Latino. A little while later, crowds at the tree-line Hangresnani stage bopped and bumped to the up-and-coming 5Petani, while many expectant fans were getting ready to sing their hearts out to Eva Celia ft. MLDProject before swooning along to White Shoes and the Couples Company. 

“This year we wanted to try something new, not make it entirely about jazz but bring in new faces for a younger crowd, with fresh talent and different genres”, said Vindra Dhiratara, one of Ngayogjazz’s creative board.
After nearly two decades of the festival and a constantly shifting cultural landscape where the gap between generations often feels like its growing wider, it seems almost unimaginable that a festival the size of Ngayogjazz, incorporating the local wisdom of the host village and the sometimes considered inaccessible genre of jazz to all, can continue to be so popular, but this year’s experimentation has paid off, with Ngayogjazz boasting perhaps one of the most diverse crowds of any festival. 


“The atmosphere is so cool!” said Shannon who is travelling to Indonesia from the UK, “I loved how the stages are scattered through the village. There’s such a sense of community and I’ve heard a lot of Indonesian folk music for the first time blended with jazz.

One student from Jogja, watching Kretek Beats’ set, laughed at how he’d lived in Jogja his whole life but was only now coming to the festival. He marvelled at how an imported genre like jazz could be transformed into something local in such a way.

With the final speeches made, the food stalls closing up and the final stragglers traipsing their way home, there was a collective sigh of contentment in Gancahan. Children from the village, still on a high from all the activity sped along on bicycles, men and women sat on their porches chatting about the hundreds of new faces coming through, in the media tent the journalists and photographers puffed on their final cigarette of the festival, unwinding after the rush. The organizing team finally sat down too with a sigh of relief – and instantly began discussing the plan for Ngayogjazz 2024. See you all then!