Ketut Denda, early Kuta surfer and one of Bali’s first aerialists

In the mid-80’s, I used to work for a friend’s home-grown Bali clothing company with its main office located in a Kuta Balinese family’s compound on Gang Poppies 1. Ketut Denda was one of the sons, a local beach kid with a big smile who ripped in the surf. He did things I hadn’t seen before, like shooting his board high over the lip, grabbing the rails while he was in the air and somersaulting backwards with the board and landing it back on the wave and on his feet to keep riding. He wasn’t copying anybody, or imitating any video clip, he was just having fun.

I only have one photo of him in my albums, at Labuhan Haji in East Lombok. Mike, me and Denda were getting on the good ship Hati Murnih (which we’d sent ahead and then flew to Mataram and rented a taxi for the cross-island ride to Labuhan Haji). This was pre-forecast days, and as I recall, we didn’t score big, but had fun waves here and there.


denda hm

Denda lives in Japan now.

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4 Responses to Ketut Denda, early Kuta surfer and one of Bali’s first aerialists

  1. robert says:

    Hey Denda, Ken Ken kabare ?
    Yes he was certainly one of the experimental rippers of the time …

  2. I have a couple of early 80’s photos of Denda, one tubed at Ekas by Dick Hoole, and the other doing a layback at Canggu (Pererenan right). He certainly showed a lot of style and power. So is he family of Made Jati?

    • Yeah, family. Kuta originals. I can still see the family’s patriarch — Denda’s father — down at the beach casting his nets. He didn’t need to go fishing any more to provide food, but he was a proud of the traditions.

  3. It’s great seeing the old blokes still casting a net. Last year on the beach in front of Poppies Lane 1, I recognized Kim Fly’s old tailor who made the first boardbags and motorbike straps back in 1977. We had a great old chat watching the famous Kuta sunset 35 years after we first met just the one time. Amazing how you can recognize a face after all those years. And I can see Made Jati’s family resemblance in your photo of Ketut Denda.

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