» Posts tagged: ‘popular culture

posted by Roy Huijsmans

Some days ago the Lao B-Boy group Lao Bangfai posted a strong statement on their Facebook page (for an earlier post see on Lao Bangfai go HERE). Their message is straight forward. They are happy that they often asked to perform on all sorts of occasions, yet, they are annoyed with constant requests to put on such shows for free or for a much lower fee than their usual one.

In their words:

Of course you would prefer us to dance for free, and WE don’t dance for the money, but who pays our bills? Who pays our food and water while we are training for your event? We have a studio that we rent, just like you rent your house.’

To be sure, Lao Bangfai does not always charge fees (e.g. exceptions may be made for charity  related events) and it is particularly when their involvement is sought by commercial parties that complaints about fees annoys them:

‘You know yourself (Organizers and Promoters) that Laobangfai can attract more people to your event than any other local artist (no disrespect but it has been the case in all past events). So please respect our service fees, think before commenting and complaining.’

The artistic value of Lao Bangfai is recognised across the globe as their long list of awards and prizes indicates, so why then is it not recognised as a form of ‘work’ and properly rewarded? Their may be two issues at stake here. First, is the work of art, which b-dance is, which is too often not recognised as a form of labour. It may be viewed as an unproductive activity, a form of leisure rather than labour, etc.  Second, this artistic labour is done by young people who present themselves as youth. Diane Elson observed in an article way back in 1982 that due to the ‘seniority system’ it is extremely difficult for children, and to some extent for youth too (!), to achieve ‘full recognition [by adults] in monetary terms for the skills they possess and the contributions they make’ (p. 493). This appears to hold for Lao Bangfai too and is further complicated by the fact that their artistic work is seldom given due recognition as a form of labour.

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