Pesta Rabak lands in Kuala Lumpur with a diverse arts spread.

THEIR beginnings were humble: tucked away in a little tuition centre in Ipoh, Perak, a group of people, united by their love for the arts, would gather for their fortnightly events.

It could be a film screening one week, an art exhibition the next, and a reading the week after. Sometimes they even got all experimental with their attempts at street theatre or welcomed an underground band on stage.

“Projek Rabak is an arts collective that originated in Ipoh. We were a bunch of friends who wanted to share and spread our love for the arts,” says Mohd Jayzuan, 32, who goes by Jay, during an interview in Petaling Jaya. “And then, as more and more people heard about what we were doing, the movement grew.”

Jay, one of the initiators of the collective, says that the first Pesta Rabak was held in 2012, to commemorate the first anniversary of their “small events”.

‘We just want to spread the love for arts,’ says Mohd Jayzuan, of Pesta Rabak that will be held in Kuala Lumpur for the first time this Saturday.

“You could say that the first Pesta Rabak was a culmination of all the people and activities we had over the course of a year. We never expected it to get to something so big, so quickly,” he says.

This year, Pesta Rabak moves from its Ipoh base to Publika, Solaris Dutamas in Kuala Lumpur on March 22. The third instalment of this one-day festival is curated by six curators, one for each category (streetwear, books, art and photography, film, street theatre, poetry marathons, and music).

Jay describes Pesta Rabak as a “counter-culture, pop culture festival” with events running the gamut from art exhibitions to film screenings, live music to mime, edgy streetwear to alternative book publishers and more.

Preparations for this year’s festival have been going on behind the scenes since September last year, but the people behind it only started getting the word out in January this year.

“It’s quite a big event but it didn’t feel too difficult to coordinate as we have six curators who are very good at what they do. It is a very ‘DIY’ project and maybe the hardest thing in pulling something together something like this is the lack of sponsors,” Jay shares.

The six curators are The Little Birds Convention, Sisi Seni, Paradoks, Haru Monia, Rabak Lit and Tempatan Fest.

He says that they don’t really know what to expect as it is the first time the festival is being held in KL.

Bands on parade at the Mindrubdown stage include Pitahati, Dirgahayu, Soft and Enterprise. Alternative book publishers confirmed for the day-long event are Rabak Lit, Fixi, Legen Press, Salut Press, Sang Freud Press and many more. There will no shortage of independent films too, especially with screenings from indie directors Syahid Johan (100 Anak Tangga) and Nabil Zamanhuri (Ganggu). Where street fashion is concerned, the Tempatan Fest ‘South East Asia’ @ Pesta Rabak is the place to check out edgy clothing brands from the homegrown scene.

“We always say, ‘the more the merrier’, so we would be very happy to see a huge turnout of course, even though numbers isn’t our goal. The objective is simply to spread love for the arts.”

Interestingly, there will be another Pesta Rabak held in Manchester in Britain that will run on the same day as the festival in KL. Organised by “one of the core members” of Projek Rabak who is based there, the event will be held at the University of Manchester.

“Like the Pesta Rabak in KL, there will be Malaysian artistes there. Although it will be done on a much smaller scale than the one here, I think it’s pretty cool that we have something going on at the same time overseas,” concludes Jay.

Pesta Rabak will be held at several locations (White Box, Black Box, The Square, Mall) at Publika, Solaris Dutamas in Kuala Lumpur on March 22. Free admission. Event duration: 10am to 10pm. More info: