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This is just a fun video of my relatives dancing daling-daling to a
I had seen much better performances in marriage ceremonies than the
videos that I can get hold of. Most of these commercial videos are
from Semporna so they are Bajau based especially Ubian.
The Sabah's ministry of culture had produced an audio CD called
Gemilang Sari which compiles the music accompanying these dances.
Daling-daling is mentioned there accompanied by a vocal song. The
original song is written in pure Suluk but this one has Malay words.
The English words, such as "Darling-darling" and "my girl- friend"
must have been there originally but not the Malay words. The word
Sandakan had been removed so I cannot verify the original Daling-
I interviewed my aunty who was a dancer in the 1940s. She learned the
dance from Tausug from the Philippines. She call the dance mengilai or
mengilok, which just means to dance. They usually dance to the sound
of the bronze kulintangan. The style is different compared to the
current ones. There is too much hip and breast movements. But based on
her demonstration, she also must have moved her hips when she executed
her dance moves, although more gently.
The current version of the dances are named lolai, doldang and
pakiring, based on the names of the songs. More will be invented but
all appear to follow the same original daling-daling movements, that I
first saw in the 1970s, performed by men to a Suluk daling-daling
Now the Semporna bajau claimed that daling-daling originates from
Semporna, and sung in the bajau dialect. It may be true in the 1990s
when the Semporna bajaus had popularised this dance. One theory is
that the Suluks in Sandakan, had disallowed their women from dancing
because of the numerous jealousy fights. The bajaus, tend to be less
religous so they developed this dance.
Unfortunately the bajaus also claimed that Igal-igal is the true name
for daling-daling, but the dance which they showed is very different
from daling-daling, because their feet are virtually static so the hip
movements are not prominent.
Igal-igal is similar to other native dances in emphasising hand
movements only. That is why daling-daling is unique. It must have been
adapted from the Indian dances which are shown on films here.