Dancing in Roppongi
I much preferred dancing to drinking. I was introduced to clubbing by Eddy and Aki from the circle. Eddy was a half Japanese American guy who grew up in Kobe and went to an international school until he moved to Colorado for high school and college. Because of his background, he was the reliable vessel of two different cultures. Aki was a year older than me, from Chiba but had attended a boarding school in England before Waseda.
After we went out drinking with the circle members on a Friday evening, Eddy, Aki, and a few more of us took the last subway train to Roppongi. The area was long known for lively nightlife that attracted ex-pats and visitors from all over the world. During the ’80s, Roppongi thrived with bars, restaurants, and discos. Even in the late ’90s, it seemed to be the very place people went for a wild night out. Once we came out of the Roppongi station and crossed the busy junction, I found myself in a foreign city. I had never seen so many foreigners in one place. Even if some looked Japanese, they dressed with a hint of out-of-placeness and spoke in a different language, like Eddy.
We walked into an alley lined with buildings with bright signs outside. Loud, thumping music flowed into the street every time one of the doors opened – hip hops from one, Latin from another, then hard rock. From one of the opened door, I peeked inside and saw women in mini skirts dancing on the bar counter, holding what looked like a handrailing attached on the ceiling. Some of them danced like Madonna in her music video, but others reminded me of monkeys on a tree. There was a sea of men of all races on the floor looking up at them with animal-like eyes, drinking, and cheering.
We entered a club in the basement, with the more mixed dance music of the ’80s and the ’90s. People were younger and less diverse than the places we saw outside. It had passed at 1 am, but the energy was explosive. We drank more beer and laughed and danced. I didn’t know any of the music, but my body moved naturally to the rhythm as alcohol relaxed my senses. The lights flashed on our faces at the peaks of the music waves, which gave me an illusion that we were dancing in unison. It was ecstatic.