During the New Order period, Indonesia's political structure extended from central government to province, regency/municipality, sub-district, and finally the kampung levels of sub-ward and neighbourhood association. Changes following Soeharto's fall in 1998 had profound consequences for this complex structure. The Regional Autonomy Law, implemented in 2001, was especially influential (Ryaas Rasyid 2003; Bubandt 2004; Erb, Sulistiyanto, and Faucher 2005). Under the new law, the functions of the sectoral ministry offices were shifted to the more autonomous ‘local service units’, initiating Indonesia's largest bureaucratic restructuring since 1974 (Ryaas Rasyid 2003:64-5) and precipitating heated contests between Jakarta and the regions and within the regions themselves. At the same time, regional parliaments, known locally as DPRD, gained greater powers in matters of regional policy and leadership. The regional parliaments thereby gained significance in what Bourdieu (1994:5-7) calls the bureaucratic field. Added to all of this, Yogyakarta remained in the highly unusual position of having a Sultan as governor.
The central location of Yogyakarta's Regional Parliament building reinforces its socio-political importance. Located in the middle of bustling Malioboro Street, it is only metres away from heavily populated street stalls and shops, next door to the Garuda Hotel, and close to Malioboro Mall. Public actions such as student and worker demonstrations often took place here, which in turn served to bring political activists and those involved in everyday commercial activities into close physical proximity. Organized musical events here were staged in various parts of the complex, reflecting power relations between organizers, participants, and political leaders. The Parliament and its grounds was in this way an important interface between struggles over statist capital and wider public protest amidst the multi-ethnic, international and cosmopolitan Malioboro Street.
Performance organizers often conceived of, organized, and finally carried out events according to an established formula. As some street musicians explained it to me, the initial impetus was usually a simple desire to perform; subsequently, an organizer or coalition of organizers sought out a theme that would be acceptable to government officials.