Goroka Show

Last weekend I attended something I’ve been looking forward to since my arrival in PNG. The Goroka Show!! The Goroka Show is basically a pacific pow-wow – tribes from all around PNG come to showcase their traditional dress, dances, and songs. This is going to be a fairly heavy post picture wise, so PNG friends, you may just want to come over and see my pictures in person 😉

I went with some friends: Connie (also works for IMR), Morgan (works for CARE), and Julia (works for Marie Stopes in POM). But, when we got there, we realized we didn’t have a parking pass, so we headed back to town to get one. It turned out the office was closed, but Julia managed to finagle a police escort so we got to park at the show grounds without paying for a pass!


Julia with our police escort, pushing through the crowds of people

We purchased ‘VIP’ passes at K150 each. This meant that we were able to show up at about 9 am, and mingle with the groups. It was really cool to see all of the groups come in and be able to talk with them and take pictures.

A group dancing like birds of paradise (a common theme) on their way in

A group dancing like birds of paradise (a common theme) on their way in

It was also a bit weird having the VIP passes. Since it’s so expensive, it was 99% white tourists inside, while all the locals waited along a fence to see the festivities from afar. So it seemed really awkward to me that us tourists were able to see everything up close and personal, while the locals were barred from being immersed in an event showcasing their culture. Also, some of the tourists were EXTREMELY rude! Getting in the middle of the dancers and disrupting them, asking them to pose in certain ways, getting right up in their faces without asking! If you’re taking a picture of an individual, it’s common courtesy to ask – and then show them the picture if they’d like to see it… It made me feel pretty conflicted about taking pictures, but I did it anyway and I’m glad I did so that I can share a small piece of the incredible culture and diversity that PNG has to offer.

Left: This guy was pretty terrible the whole time – here he’s interrupted the dance and asked the dancer to do a warrior pose.
Right: I’m showing one of the dancers a picture I took of her.


The field before most of the groups had come in, a crowd of locals behind the fence

Anyway, the gates are opened to the general public in the afternoon and it gets pretty crowded. We left around 1pm, after which there were fights and apparently tear gas thrown into the crowd… Which is, I guess, why they have the ‘tourist’ time, but it still seems pretty sad to me.


The crowd of show-goers and dancers after opening the gates to the general public

Many groups used traditional dress – using things natural leaves, grasses, feathers, etc. But there were some modern ones as well who used modern synthetic materials and non-native feathers. Most chose a combination of old and new.


Top Left: Fully traditional Top Right: Almost completely modern Bottom: Combination of old & new

It was incredible, and I will definitely attend again next year! Here’s some of my favourite pictures out of the 600 or so that Connie and I took.


Dancers from Manus



These guys are from Mt. Hagen – definitely one of my top 5 favourite groups


When I showed her the pictures I took she said “Whoa, I am too beautiful!” On the right: With a coworker, Abby




The Asaro Mudmen were also in my top 5. They move extremely slowly, it’s very eerie!


Connie & I with a loving mudman


Also in my top 5. The kids in this groups were super eager to have their photos taken, and excited to see the result.




Ooooh it’s a snake!


The centre lady reminds me of a woodland seer of some kind, straight out of a fantasy novel


Left: ??? Middle: Looks like these guys were influenced by the war. And Nike. Right: Modern Eastern Highlands


Bamboo Band from Madang (I believe) – another top 5. These guys were just awesome to listen to! I’ve shared a video on FB (from my friend Louise) you can check out to get the gist of what the music sounds like. Singing to guitar and flip-flop on bamboo tubes. There were a few coastal and island groups like this. Definitely a highlight for me!



Last, but not least, my final top 5: the penis-gourd guys. They were doing a marriage song & dance.

So, who’s coming to visit next September? 😉


8 thoughts on “Goroka Show

  1. These pictures are nuts! Looks like so much fun and so completely strange at the same time… Okay back to looking at these pics again!

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