Tong Setan Riders: Life In Indonesian Funfairs

Tong Setan Riders: Life in Indonesian Funfairs

Riding Bikes in Tong Setan Funfairs: A Life on Wheels in Indonesia!

In the vibrant tapestry of Indonesia’s cultural landscape, funfairs hold a special place. Amidst the kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, one can find a unique group of individuals who navigate their lives on two wheels, quite literally. These are the “sepeda tong setan” riders, whose daring performances in the bustling funfairs provide not only entertainment but also a means of livelihood for themselves and their families.

The Origins of Tong Setan:

The term “tong setan” translates to “devil’s barrel” in English, and it aptly describes the cylindrical wooden structure that serves as both stage and arena for the riders. Originating from the streets of Java, this form of entertainment has evolved over the years into a staple attraction in Indonesian funfairs. What sets tong setan apart is not just the spectacle of acrobatics and stunts but also the camaraderie and sense of community among its practitioners.

Life on Two Wheels:

For many riders, tong setan is not merely a job but a way of life. From dawn till dusk, they dedicate themselves to honing their skills and perfecting their performances. Balancing atop their bikes, they defy gravity with each twist and turn, captivating audiences young and old alike. But behind the adrenaline-fueled spectacle lies a harsh reality – the precarious nature of their livelihood.

Challenges and Risks:

The life of a tong setan rider is fraught with challenges and risks. From the physical demands of constant practice to the financial uncertainty of seasonal fairs, they face an uphill battle to make ends meet. Moreover, the very nature of their profession exposes them to the dangers of accidents and injuries, with little to no safety nets in place. Yet, despite these obstacles, they persevere, driven by a passion for their craft and a sense of duty to provide for their families.

A Family Affair:

In many cases, tong setan is a family affair, with multiple generations following in the footsteps of their predecessors. Children as young as five or six are taught the ropes from an early age, learning the art of balance and control under the watchful eye of their parents or older siblings. For these families, tong setan is more than just a source of income – it is a legacy to be preserved and passed down through the ages.

Community and Solidarity:

Despite the competitive nature of the funfair industry, tong setan riders share a strong sense of camaraderie and solidarity. In times of need, they come together to support one another, whether it be through financial assistance or moral encouragement. This sense of community is not only a source of strength but also a testament to the resilience and spirit of the Indonesian people.

Looking to the Future:

As Indonesia marches forward into the 21st century, the future of tong setan hangs in the balance. Rapid urbanization and modernization threaten to erode the traditional way of life for these riders, as funfairs make way for shopping malls and amusement parks. Yet, amidst the winds of change, there remains hope – hope for the preservation of a cultural heritage that is as vibrant and resilient as the people who embody it.


In the colorful tapestry of Indonesia’s cultural mosaic, tong setan riders stand out as a testament to the enduring spirit of human ingenuity and resilience. Through their daring performances and unwavering determination, they defy the odds to make a living and leave a lasting legacy for future generations to cherish. As the wheels of progress continue to turn, may we never forget the indomitable spirit of those who ride the devil’s barrel in pursuit of a better tomorrow.

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