I’ve been to punk, noise, rap, rock, s/m, and wrestling shows here, and what I’ve learned all boils down to this: Basically there are only 2 types of events in Tokyo. Events where you can take pictures, and events where you can’t. events where you can’t, generally feature non-famous people putting on some pretentious rock-star act, and a too-cool audience to go along with it. These are the shows you wouldn’t want to go to anyway. Today, however was a total and utter ‘PICTURES ARE OK! YAY!’ event. . . .
Today was a hip-hop event, improbably named ‘SUGmission.’
Also odd was the fact that it was totally fun. . . .
Probably this had something to do with a near total absence of hip hop!!!
I came expecting the usual bunch of sullen 17 year old guys with do-rags, who are too ‘cool’ to cheer or move their butts. but instead it was a whole room full of young women. Why? They were there to watch the 12 teams of hip-hop dancers, who happened to be. . . . other young women. Today, ‘hip hop’ was just an excuse for some Shibuya girls to get together and dress up and show off. pretty much it was like a Visual Kei show )except for some reason the rapper girls are even shorter than the Visual girls).
And it made me think . . .the Tokyo hip-hop dating scene must be really weird. Every time I’ve seen a guy who’s all super bling bling, he’s with some totally normal-looking girl. And here’s a room full of girls who ARE all super rap-looking bling bling, but the guys DON’T go to this concert at all. Huh?? Plus somewhere right now theres a whole buttload of salarimen who are paying some bar hostess like a million bucks to just TALK to them, while meanwhile there’s teenage girls shaking their ass here for 8 hours for a mere twenty bucks. . . and the only people who want to watch the butts shake is. . . other girls?? Am I perverted for even wondering what’s up with that??
SUGmission lasted 8 hours! And there were over 20 teams of dancers, usually consisting of 2 or 3 women in matching U.S.A. Black-person-circa-1980-style outfits. There’s a women’s magazine here called MOVEMENT which has like HUNDREDS of ads for different ‘hiphop’ dance classes. It looked like most of today’s dance teams had taken maybe one semester of dance class, and then been offered this show as a reward. Nobody was doing crazy head-spinning breaking moves. In fact, the unwritten rule seemed to be ‘don’t dance hard enough to break a sweat, please. It’s not ladylike.’
But to be fair, it was kind of cool how having fun was a higher priority than being super technical, and all the dancers were on the same ‘level’ as the audience, and hung out in the audience after their show. In fact, this was the only show I’ve been to, where WOMEN were all up on the first row, arms crossed, looking like guitar nerds at a Yingwe concert, studying the performers’ technique. Excellent! The only downside was, you had a lot of girls who got up and acted like they THOUGHT they were all hot and sexy but in fact, were so utterly not.
plus, i discovered, if you leave your flash off, the pictures get SO MUCH MORE ARTY!!!
BEFORE: not arty
AFTER: totally capturing the Magic of Dance.
Plus some of the dance teams had awesome names like OPUS OF WEEDS or AFROISM.
These dancers came out with pink afros and did some ‘avant-garde’ dancing, and their song? ‘PRETTY FLY FOR A WHITE GUY.’, of all things. . .
These dancers totally staged a fight onstage, where the one dancer is all cussing out the other dancer for stealing the spotlight. Good times!
THESE dancers, on the other hand, had some of the most SEVERE extensions PLUS crimping PLUS insanely bad weaves that, when put together, hurt my feelings. Plus it was awesome-they kept busting stripper moves, and the girls in the crowd were all looking at them with their faces all screwed up into that Universal Girl Expression of ‘who does she think she is??’ which was hilarious
Then, FOR NO REASON, here come two guys dancing the bossa-nova, and doing crazy Fred Astaire acrobatics.
Then, like 20 people all bum rush the stage in Kung Fu uniforms. Not the person in the front row of the audience giving herself some eyedrops.
Then we had some awesome chubby girls with matching fake tans and Dockers pants do a striptease, until they just wore bikinis, and try to pull off some stripper dance moves and fail. Normally I hate it when people use sex to distract from their lack of talent. But stripping in front of a crowd that’s like 90% jealous-ass females, that takes total balls!!!
. . . but i still didn’t take any pictures of them in bikinis because i was like, ‘oh, you’d like that wouldn’t you?’ i was mostly checking out the bewildered audience.
In between the dancers there were some rappers, and R&B singers.
The singer on the left is this crazy-buff 5 foot tall bodybuilder, and the skinny lady on the right is doing some human beatboxing. And then some rapper came out in the traditional men’s yukata (summer robe) and rapped to the crowd.
Plus, the best rapper of the night: please note that his polyester shirt consists entirely of tiny Playboy magazine covers…
… because if you’re this guy, really, what other shirt can you wear???
and more rappers:
And, every 2 hours there was an intermission, so people could dance. And even as early as 4 pm, a mostly sober crowd was shaking their butt. THIS DOES NOT USUALLY HAPPEN. I haven’t been dancing since I got here, so I totally busted some moves and made some b-boys laugh, and we started hanging out. Then there was this excellent spontaneous breaking-battle between some 6 foot dude and this 8 year old biracial kid with a bowl cut.
Eventually we got to see dancers that knew how. . . here’s the DOUBLE D SQUAD doing double-dutch style jumprope. This super acrobatic jumprope style was developed in the 70s in the Bronx. I think.
Then there were the POP ROCKING GIRLS, who wore matching mechanics’ overalls, and did West-coast-circa-1980-style robot dancing.
Then PERFECT COMBUSTION did some INSANE breakdancing with all the head spinning you could ask for. I talked to the leader afterwards and he not only spoke English, but he was super nice and told me about other breakdance battles I could go to.
By then it was 9 pm, and the show was only 2/3 over! But I had to bail because my day was just getting started… I had to run home, shower, and go to Tama, which is a suburb 1 hour away. I was meeting some guys I had never even met before, but they wanted to record my rapping for some kind of TV commercial.
while we were in Tama, walking to the studio, we just happen to run into one of the b=boys from today’s Shibuya show!! i’ve never seen homey before in my life, and suddenly i meet him twice in one day, in two totally different and far-apart locations. DUDE!! but i utterly blow it because i don’t even recognize him. he was like, ‘DUDE, YOU TOOK MY PICTURE!’ i was like, oh, yeah, you’re that b-boy with a baseball cap and baggy athletic shorts. how could i forget? no actually, i was more like, ‘DOH! I SUCK!!!!’ but still, it was eerie. the hip hop twilight z-to the – o – to the -n – to the -e.
Actually, it turned out that tonight’s goal was to produce a ‘demo tape’ for a client, with different styles of rap. And if the client likes the tape, THEN they’ll hire us to record the commercial. I didn’t care, it was totally fun! We were recording in homeboy’s apartment, which had a mini-recording studio that was totally high tech , soundproof, AND she size of your shoe.
here are the producers and their Mysterious Hello Kitty Chair. This photo is actually wider than the studio. to get the feeling for reals, print this picture out and take it into a sauna with you.
We spent all night writing rhymes, and recording. They said ‘write a battle rap’ and I wrote something about the Simpsons episode where Homer becomes Mr. Burns’ prank monkey.
It was all cool until the producer said, ‘you sound like fred durst.’ I was like, ‘ oh my gosh I’m SO SORRY, I’ll do it over again.’ Ouch. Just for that I made him sing ‘PRAAAANK MONKEY, PRRRRAAAAANK MUUN-KEEE’ in a little falsetto for the chorus. It was adorable.
Walking back to the station, checking out the bright smog-enhanced pink sunrise, I saw that the sidewalk was COVERED with dead locusts. Every summer they show up, make a huge buzzing noise for one week, mate and die. And they’re NOT SMALL. Maybe 3 inches long and surprisingly heavy.No comments