Monday, August 8, 2011

Multiculturalism in Tokyo

Studio 80
The short version: An American teaching belly dance to women in a Tokyo bar while Japanese men played live middle eastern music.

The long version: I have a friend that teaches here in Tokyo (we'll call her R), but her passion is belly dance. She recently invited me out to see a friend of hers play some live middle eastern music at Studio 80. It's a funky little place with inexpensive drinks and hand painted doodles on the walls. There's also some unusual decor.

We were given some finger cymbals and a tambourine so we could better participate in the live music. Participate we did, with wild and rhythmless abandon. So did Chucky.

The music was impossible NOT to dance to (I've had exactly one belly dance class, so I was happy to boogie in my seat), and R met another woman with finger cymbals and some belly dance experience (although, I would guess, not as much R who just makes it look so darn's a shame this video came out so blasted dark).

To get the rest of us party poopers to dance, she got us up and to the center of the dance floor to teach an impromptu class. And got the four or five other women in the bar to come over as well. It's not nearly as easy as it looks, but it's a really good time.

The short version: Anniversary celebration of a Korean bar in Tokyo.

The long version: Seo is a Korean bar in Tokyo run by a friend of a friend (not the same friend as the previous story). She invited me out for a drink, but I didn't know that it was the one-year anniversary of the bar or that there would be something special going on. Surprise!

It's a cozy venue, not too crowded, drinks are inexpensive after the cover charge, and I'm told that they serve excellent food. I also discovered マッコリ, a Korean rice wine. It's mild and a little bit sweet and I can't believe I'm just learning about it now.

The first part of the celebration was a small dance performance. Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the bar to get the ideal view. (Side note: it's not a strobe light, it's a fan blade spinning under a regular light.)

Then the bar show, which was impressive. He puts on a great show!

The fire/glass show may actually be a weekly thing. Even better!

Following the performance, he gave a crowd-pleasing speech that I didn't understand, using a long-handled stir spoon as a microphone.

Next up: audience participation in drinking games! There were a few, but one was four men racing to the bottom of a beer cup through a meter-long tube. Husband, of course, was critiquing their technique and claiming whoever lifted the cup above his head and used gravity to siphon the beer would surely win. Why I mention just that one will be come more apparent in a later post.

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