They may not conform to the western stereotype of a provocative girl band but Myanmar's first all girl pop act, the Me N Ma Girls are certainly pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in deeply religious and conservative Burmese society.
The five band members, all in their early 20s, live at home with their parents and may present themselves very differently to their parents. Yet when they venture out on stage, as they're doing increasingly often around Yangon and other towns, they display all the flare and youthful daring of their Western counterparts. The band is the creation of Nicole May, an Australian dancer, who came to Myanmar to pick 5 women out of a pool of 120 candidates who had responded to ads in the newspaper and on the radio. Ms May works alongside Moe Kyaw, the Burmese co-manager of the band, who has also stumped up some of the cash to launch the band.
The Me N Ma Girls' rise to prominence has coincided with a slow yet steady easing of the political repression and restrictions that made Myanmar one of the most repressive regimes in Asia. Despite this, they still struggle against their parents' and boyfriends' criticism, an ever looming censor, a lack of money and banal hurdles such as frequent power cuts during their gigs.
The band released its first album in December 2011 and the girls also travelled to Bangkok to record a video for one of their songs - the first time out of the country for all of them. They plan to return to Thailand in the near future and "to be famous and globally recognised" as Su Pyae Mhu Eain, one of the band members hopes.
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