The show must go on. That phrase gets uttered quite a bit these days. However, one up and coming artist, 29-year-old Irma Bule, upheld that belief all the way to her grave. As a viral video of the performance has made its way around the globe, commentators in other countries have asked what would compel someone to perform on stage surrounded by snakes, including deadly King Cobras.

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In a country that is predominantly Muslim, the provocative dance moves of artists performing dangdut, ‘snake dance moves,’ has raised quite a bit of controversy. However, that has not stopped the style from gaining a large following. At the center of this movement is a financial incentive. Singers facing extreme levels of competition for audiences often turn to dangdut. For a single performance with non-venomous snakes, usually pythons, people like Irma receive $20. But dancing with deadly vipers, like Bule was venturing into, can lead to the performing earning $25.

Bule, originally from West Java, was performing a concert in the village of Karawang. During the second song of the night, in front of a crowd of over 2,000 fans, she accidentally stepped on a cobra. It instantly latched onto her thigh, fangs sinking deeply into her flesh. A snake handler rushed to her side and it was nearly a minute before he was able to remove the serpent from Bule’s leg. After consulting with the handler, and refusing some anti-venom offered by the stage crew, she returned to her performance. She was greeted by loud applause for sticking with the show and performed for another 45 minutes. Unfortunately, at that point, she began to vomit on stage before having a seizure. Despite being rushed immediately to the hospital, she was soon pronounced dead. In the end, the concert promoter gave the $25 earned by Irma for her performance to her three young children and husband. No doubt that money will be of small comfort to her grieving family.

孫子
Sun Tzu has spent about 7 years in Asia traveling through Japan, Hong Kong, China, and Korea. A true fan of everything that is weird and strange, he decides in the end what is displayed and published on this site. Sun has previous experience writing for numerous print mags such as XLR8R, URB, and Movement Magazine.
孫子