The Barong dance is a traditional dance performed daily in Bali. It’s a story of good versus evil – the Barong versus Rangda – full of action and humor. There are variations on the storyline, but the Barong is basically a sacred lion (sometimes translated as tiger) and protector of the people. Rangda is an evil spirit, who in one storyline sends his evil minions to kidnap a princess. The forces of good, then, backed by the Barong attempt to kill Rangda, who uses magic to make them turn their knives on themselves. Eventually, of course, the Barong prevails, Rangda is defeated, and the people are safe.
It’s all pretty dramatic, buoyed by lively, percussive music. But there is plenty of humour – some of it kind of phallic and naughty. At one point, for example, a monkey, dying, pinches his red-tipped tail between his legs, transforming it into a large erect penis. The men attacking him begin to sort of poke it and play with it, before cutting it off and ending the monkey’s life.