Saturday, January 01, 2005

Welcoming New Year's Day at Ageha Nightclub

I had the most fascinating nightclubbing experience and the most memorable experience of welcoming a new year.

Although I was staying in Japan now, I didn't follow the Japanese traditional way of seeing an old year out and a new one in, like visiting a temple or a shrine to do hatsumode (the first - and usually the only - worship in a year) at midnight or watching Kohaku Uta Gassen on TV (a long-lasting TV programme on the evening of New Year's Eve where popular singers, divided by sex - male singers form the "white" group and female divas the "red" group - compete with each other). I spent New Year's Eve night and New Year's Day morning at a super-nightclub called Ageha in Shinkiba, one of the bay areas of Tokyo.

There were as many as five dancefloors, each of them featured a different style of music: house, techno, hard house, hip hop, and reggae. Every single one was impressive. If I go into detail, I have a couple of complaints (for instance, why wasn't there a drum & bass floor?). But no single dancefloor made me lose interest in dancing because of, say, poor sound quality, or poorly skilled DJs. This is amazing: especially considering I don't usually appreciate house, techno, and hard house. Actually, the best one was techno. DJ Tasaka made the crowd keep on dancing for ever. I didn't like the idea that one nightclub features a wide variety of styles of music. But it actually worked in this place. It continuously refreshed my interest in dancing whenever I changed the dancefloor.

What's more, it wasn't only about music. This nightclub overturns the idea that nightclubs are dim, scruffy, cramped, and unstylish (in terms of decor in detail). It's quite spacious, high-ceiling, neat, bright (except dancefloors, of course), and stylish (speaker boxes have unusual shapes, for example).

Furthermore, there were quite a few extra entertainments: drug-queen-looking girls called Tokyo Kya-bunny performing naughty dancing on the bar counter tables while bartenders keep working as usual (I didn't like the dancing, but what I liked was it didn't interrupt the stream of passing time: usually when dancing starts in a nightclub, everything stops with all the attention of people forced to be paid to dancers, which I hate). Food stalls set up outside the building, selling jerk chicken, donar kebab, and Thai noodle as well as Japanese winter foods and drinks (so it was like an outdoor music festival in summer).

And last but not least, watching the first sunrise in 2005 while dancing to lounge music at the sides of an outdoor pool. (As the nightclub is located near Tokyo Bay, this was possible.) It's probably unique in Japan; the new year's first sunrise (called hatsuhinode in Japanese) is something special. Some people get up early and go out to see this every new year. This is seen as an happy event in Japan. But waiting for the sun to rise at an uninspiring place in a freezing winter morning while you're sleepy is not a pleasurable experience. However, with dancable music and cool environments, waiting time wasn't boring at all. In a way, this was a great combination of Japanese tradition (hatsuhinode) and Western influence (nightclubbing), which Japanese people have always been good at. The vibes were extremely happy for no reason. Plus, luckily, even if the most parts of the sky were overcast, clouds were cleared away just around the point in the horizon where the sun came up. When the sun finally showed up, everyone cheered. Beautiful.

That was the moment I felt I made the right decision to come back to Tokyo. It was the most enjoyable nightclubbing in my entire life. All the worry that I had has gone with year 2004. Very refreshing.

Big up all the Ageha crew who organised this ridiculously beautiful event. Also big shout goes to Kurosaki-san, Mizoguchi, Kimiko, and Reiko, who came with me. Without you guys, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed that much. Tokyo is a great place. It always energises my soul in an unexpected way.

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