Gandrung is performanced in various events such as wedding, pethik laut, circumcision, and Indonesia independence event. This performance started in 21.00 until 04.00.
The first Woman Gandrung Dancer, in history, was known as Gandrung Semi, when a 10 years old girl performed in 1895. Semi had an illness, that could not be healed though she had need taken to dukun. Her mom vowed “Kadhung sira waras, sun dhadekaken Seblang, kadhung sing yo sing” (If you are healed, i will make you a seblang, if not, i won’t make you so). Semi was healed and she was happened to be seblang and Gandrung was started to danced by woman.
Historically, Gandrung was performed initially by men that were dressed as women, and according to Scholte (1927), the main instrument in this Gandrung Lanang (men) was kendang. Violen has been used as well, but Gandrung lanang was disappeared gradually in Banyuwangi in 1890s, and estimated that Islam banned any form of transvestism. And Gandrung Lanang disappeared completely in 1914, after the death of the last dancer, Marsan. According few sources, Gandrung was born initially to entertain forrest loggers, and performed in thanksgiving ritual ceremony.
Gandrung tradition then followed by Semi’s sisters and used Gandrung as name of the stage. This performance then evolved and was popular in entire Banyuwangi and becomes the icon of the regency. Initially, Gandrung was performed by the descendants of Gandrung dancers, but since 1970s young girls were interested to be gandrung dancers for occupations but until the end of 10th century, the existence of Gandrung dancer was gradually ignored.
Gandrung dance constume is unlike other dance in Java, there is influence of Balinese , Blambangan. The body costume is made of black velvet and decorated with gold ornaments and sparkling beads wrapping neck to chest, and shoulders and half back are bare. Neck wears decoration that covers chest. Arms wears decoration and something like belt decorated the hip with colorful scarf. Shawl is worn on shoulder. The head wears crown-like ornament called omprok made of bull leather and decorated with Antasena figure in gold and red. Antasena is the son of Bima, with human head but snake body and antasena ornament covers hair of the dancer.
In the past Antasena ornament was not attached to the crown but like wings on the dancer. Since 1960s, tail of Antasena ornament was attached to the crown until today. The crown was also decorated with silver ornament that makes the dancer having egg-round face, and completed with flower ornament called as cundhuk menthul. Often, omprok was also put incense for magical impression.
Gandrung dancer wears batik with various morives, but usually they wear gajah oling morives, plants motives with elephant trunk on white fabric. Before 1930s, gandrung dancers did not wear socks.
In the past gandrung dancers bring 2 fans for the performance, but today, only one fan, and 2 fans are brought only in few sequences such as in seblang subuh sequence.
Musical accompaniment of Gandrung dance is 2 kempul, one kluching, one or two violin, 2 kendang, and pair of kethuk.