Two men were busy tending to their motorcycle, slapping the tires with the palms of their hands to check the air pressure inside. Nearby, another man cleaned the carburetor of his motorbike. “This safeguards our lives,” Rhaka, the third man, said. “We can fall if things go wrong.”
The men are all drivers for the Tong Setan, or Devil’s Barrel, roadshow, which has recently been performing at the night fair in Pamulang, Banten.
Watching the men in action is petrifying.
As spectators hold their breath, Rhaka, Tebe and their fellow stunt drivers their bikes at around the wall of the aforementioned barrel, which stands 8 meters high. “It’s a matter of balance rather than just speed,” said Nurdin, who has been working as a daredevil for two years. Outside, visitors were lining up to buy tickets for Rp 8,000 apiece.
On holidays, the men, who range in age from 17 to 25, can earn Rp 1 million in saweran (money thrown by spectators), as well as splitting 40 percent of the box-office take. For tips, the men don’t hesitate to ride with eyes closed, with hands off their handlebars — or even standing with one leg on their bikes.
Like most other night fairs, the only hitch is rain.
Showers that day reduced the number of visitors to about 25. After finishing a 20-minute set, the men wrapped things up for the night, choosing to look the devil in the eye another day.
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