Written by: Fajar binti Benjamin
Edited by: Gee Ren Chee
Togetherlah!’s Lokal Night was a colourful display of Malaysian art and talent organised by Sunway University’s Department of Communication and Liberal Arts (DCLA). Organising this event was not only merely a fun experience but also, a requirement for their degree coursework to prepare them to enter the field of public relations and media planning.
Lokal Night took place on Wednesday, 17th March from 7pm to 10pm. From 6pm, participants could be seen milling around outside JC1 in the university building, excited to enter and experience what the night had to offer. Coupons, a brochure with the event itinerary, food and goodie bags containing Malaysian classics such as muruku and Apollo were handed out at the registration booth. The VIPs including Dr Elizabeth Lee, senior director of Sunway Education Group, Professor Matthew, Associate Dean of Performing Arts and Talitha Tan, the Instafamous performer for the night were ushered into a VIP room to mingle before the start of the event.
At 7.15pm sharp, the VIPs were paraded into the hall, led by Sunway’s very own kompang team as they beat their traditional drums to a tune reminiscent of the Malay wedding march. Once the VIPs were seated, emcee Asyraf Nasir started the event with a friendly greeting, lightening the mood as he joked about Malaysian quirks, our deep appreciation of food, and the cultural tengkolok he was wearing. As per custom, the entire hall stood up to sing the Malaysian national anthem, Negaraku. Afterwards, Dr Elizabeth Lee delivered a speech where she emphasised on the uniqueness of the ubiquitous word “lah” amongst Malaysians, musing at how even international students and staff learn to accept and use it after a while.
After that, it was time for Togetherlah!’s Director, Joanne Yep Tee Wey and her Assistant Director, Lee Weng Gene to give their speech. They recounted all the activities they carried out leading up to Lokal Night including the Lokal Bazaar held at the Boulevard with a variety of traditional snacks being sold, their flash mob dance at the university foyer and their tireless efforts to promote Lokal Night to ensure the event hall would be filled with people.
“Every performer strives for perfection, every performer seeks to inspire and connect to people’s hearts, and that is what Lokal Night is all about. It’s about bringing people together to appreciate what culture has to offer.” This phrase from their speech reminds us of the importance of protecting and embracing our vibrant Malaysian identity, the symbol of a shared history that unites us all.
It was then time for the fun to begin. The first performance was a traditional dance performed by the Performing Arts and Culture Club from Management and Science University (MSU) who preferred to be referred to as the Pac Squad. Their first dance was the Masri Manis, an Inang, Rampai and Joget combination.
Following that was a Taichi and Wushu performance from Lee Ming Yi and Lam Chee Ken. Dressed in their silk traditional clothing, they wowed the audience with their precision, strength and flexibility.
Up next was an Indian Semi-Classical dance, with dancer Gyvayksha a/p Ganisen jingling her way across the stage with boundless energy, ending her set with an Indian cover of the song “Shape of You”.
The performances were put on hold for the Lucky Draw session to be held. Professor Matthew drew the names while the director of Togetherlah! handed over the prizes. Amazing prizes obtained from Togetherlah!’s sponsors such as tickets to the Selfie Museum in KL or free exclusive Togetherlah! t-shirts were awarded to the lucky winners.
The event continued with a diabolo performance by Gam Jing Khai. Diabolo is the Chinese take on a yo-yo with a plastic wheel detachable from the string. It’s much more impressive than the standard yo-yo with the wheel flying through the air and impossibly being caught and spun at the last minute. .
The Pac Squad came back out in furs and even sparklier outfits to perform a Melanau and Sumazau dance. Then the emcee went back to entertaining us while the Chinese Orchestra set up their instruments. The wait was well worth it as the traditional wooden string and wind instruments were played with respectable expertise imprinting the haunting tunes in the audience’s memory.
Another Lucky Draw took place, this time with the stakes upped. Tickets to Sunway Lost World of Tambun in Ipoh and an overnight stay at the Meridian were handed out while the unlucky members of the audience groaned a little in jovial disappointment.
Finally, the performance that many in the audience had been excitedly anticipating, Talitha Tan’s three song set, came around. The rising star perched herself on a stool and sang her heart out while her guitarist strummed away expertly. The audience happily sang along with her as she requested, starstruck by her friendly personality. At the end of her set, she answered a few questions, revealing to the audience that her journey as a singer began in the shower.
Last but not least, to close the night, the Pac Squad came out once more to dance to Terima Kasih Daun Keladi clad in new colourful costumes. There was a brief Token of Appreciation Ceremony before the event concluded and the audience disbanded, gleefully chattering about all they had seen and learned that night.
One DCLA student who had played the part of managing publicity for the event proudly told us about her gratitude seeing the success of the event and that her favourite performances had to be those from the Pac Squad. An enthusiastic audience member listed out facts he had learned about Malaysian culture that night. “It’s great because it’s fun, but I also learned a lot of new things especially about the different dances relating to which races in Malaysia and the clothing different artists wear.”
The event was an all around success, fulfilling its purpose of simultaneously educating and entertaining the audience with spectacular traditional performances. The project management team should be proud of what they have accomplished and we can’t wait to see more from the DCLA!