Thu, 11 Aug 1994

History may not repeat itself at Woodstock

By Riris Irawati

JAKARTA (JP): It isn't known whether any Indonesians had the chance to witness the original 1969 Woodstock concert which the 60s generation affectionately refers to as three days of love, peace and music.

However, a quarter of a century later, it's unlikely that this country of over 180 million people will have no representatives at the festival being held in Saugerties, upstate New York, from Aug. 13 to Aug. 15, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the counterculture concert.

After all, a popular Jakarta based youth magazine has been advertising for weeks that, together with a private travel agency, it is offering a package trip to the U.S. called "Woodstock '94 Tour".

The package includes a Jakarta to New York return air ticket, admission to Woodstock '94, five nights accommodation at a New York hotel, breakfast and lunch, city tours and more for only a mere US$2,425, excluding one percent value added tax (VAT).

Knowing Indonesian teens' and twenty-some-things' increased travel-mindedness, it would be dead surprising if the package did not sell well, especially in major cities.

In Indonesia, like everywhere else, Woodstock '94 has been sold in a very methodical manner, something which would be quite unthinkable back in the 60s.

Like it or not, after 25 years, Woodstock and the people organizing it, are moving and grooving in the 90s.

While the original Woodstock is remembered as a symbol of solidarity, peace, love and anti-establishmentism, Woodstock '94 is likely to go down in history as a very heavily marketed event.

The organizers, including Michael Lang of the original Woodstock, have teamed up with a $4 billion entertainment company. While the 250,000 available tickets are being sold at $135 each, the concert will also be broadcast live on pay per view television.

Responding to criticism of Woodstock's commercialization, Lang, now 49, said he is not trying to recreate history or sell Woodstock '94 to his generation. The event is grounded in the realities of the 90s.

With such arguments at the forefront of the organizers' minds, obviously it would be naive to expect a repeat of three days of love, peace and music in Saugerties.

However, it would also be rather premature to suggest that Woodstock '94 will be merely a showcase of 60s' fading stars.

The fact that until early this month about 100,000 tickets remained unsold indicates that even in the 90s, it takes more than just marketing to capture the spirit of a generation.

While history may not repeat itself at Woodstock '94, it's nice to know that something, besides flairs, from a decade hailed throughout the world as days of rage and years of hope, is still alive here and there.