Dara Puspita (Flower Girls) were an all-girl rock group from Indonesia, whose career spanned from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s.
Formed in Surabaya in East Java in 1964, the girls were heavily influenced by the sounds of the British Invasion, as well as American garage rock. When they relocated to Jakarta in 1965, they quickly gained a reputation among the teenage crowd for playing kick-ass shows.
Unfortunately, like a lot of bands around the world (Os Mutantes in Brazil, and Traffic Sound in Peru, for example) Dara Puspita faced hostility from an anti-Western government. The Indonesian president, Sukarno, had a violent distaste for rock music (particularly the Beatles, whose music he once called “a form of mental disease”).
Although they were frequently interrogated and harassed, the girls were lucky to escape the fate of some of their friends and contemporaries. In 1965, the band Koes Bersadaura were thrown in jail for three months for playing a cover of “I Saw Her Standing There.”
To get away from the pressure, the girls moved to Bangkok, where they played as the house band in a nightclub for three months. The collapse of the Sukarno regime in September 1965 meant they were free to return to Jakarta and release their first album, Jang Pertama, which came out in early 1966.
Enjoying the new freedom of post-communist Indonesia, Dara Puspita released a self-titled E.P in 1966 and two more albums in 1967. The song below is the title track from A Go Go the second of those albums. The military jackets they’re wearing on the cover is entirely in keeping with the Beat sound of the song.
In 1968, the band left Indonesia to embark on a mammoth three year tour of Europe, playing shows in West Germany, Hungary, England, Holland, France, Belgium, Spain, and even making it down to Turkey and Iran. They also recorded a few singles while on tour, including two in England.
Returning to Indonesia in 1971, they played a string of concerts for a sell-out home crowd. The pressures of touring had taken it out of them though, and they eventually disbanded in March 1972.
They may not have set the world a light, but they released some great music and rocked Jakarta with their all-girl garage grooves. Next time you’re watching Kill Bill and the 126.96.36.199’s start Woo Hooing in the izakaya, remember that Dara Puspita were there first, and they were way cooler.